Summer Grief

By Joyce Nevola, LMSW, Bereavement Counselor


A summer in Syracuse, New York echoes etchings of sun-glistened lakes, playful picnicking parks, adventuresome hiking trails, and festival gatherings. Thoughts of sleeping in, leaving stress behind, playing outdoors, and day- dreaming of summers past lift our spirits and spark our anticipation. Each year, The Great New York State Fair calls us to taste the freeing flavor of childlike play.

Nearby vacation destinations like the Adirondacks, Finger Lakes, and Thousand Islands beckon us to rekindle happy times shared with family and friends as the days grow longer and the sun blesses us with welcomed warmth.


For those of us who are grieving the loss of a loved one, however, everything previously enjoyed about summer may be very different this year. Some may find it difficult to cope with grief’s heartache when everyone else seems to be having fun. Others may thrive on the high and often unreal expectation that getting away with family and friends may easily erase the pain. Some may set out to rekindle cherished memories of a loved one’s presence only to discover the agony of absence. Others may lack the energy and enthusiasm to plan all the details of a vacation and may be too stressed to go anywhere. Some may find a summer getaway a rejuvenating break but are dreading the stark reality of returning home alone. Others may feel that the ache of autumn’s “letting go” and the harshness of a cold, dreary winter may more easily resonate with their mood.


Here are some suggestions to help anyone who is struggling with grief this summer:

• Instead of planning a week full of activities, take small steps and enjoy a day or two at a time with breaks in between. Remember, grief depletes your energy.

• Soak in the gift of the present moment and be mindful of simple pleasures that already surround you. Grief draws you back into yesterday. Try to be open to “now”.

• Invite someone who understands and validates your feelings to share your summer

journey. Grief can make you feel emotionally abandoned, at times. Reach out to others.

• Spend time with nature and allow a pretty flower, a beautiful sunset, or a walk at a

lakefront to bring you comfort. Grief can be harsh and barren. Focus on life, if only for a moment.

• Honor your loved one by celebrating memories of times shared and plan a favorite

activity which you enjoyed together. Grief can intensify absence. Find new ways to be


• Pamper yourself with a spa treatment, a good book, a long nap, or do nothing at all.

Instead of having grief consume you, allow it to walk beside you.

• Contact us at The Hospice Grief Center. We offer compassionate support through

individual counseling and a variety of support groups. We are just a phone call away at 315-634-2208.

We are just a phone call away at 315-634-2208.