Summer is gone. And if you live in the middle of the country, fall lasted as long as your afternoon lunch break on November 1st. So, how are you going to cope with the cold weather? The loss of the summer sun and crisp autumn breeze can be a lot like the loss of anything else in your life: riddled with emotional trauma and physical exhaustion. But if you know the road map to dealing with a loss like this, you’ll be that much more prepared for life-affirming spring time… which again, if you live in the middle of the country, will last as long as your morning coffee break on April 30th.
Because this seasonal depression is so similar to other forms of loss, you can keep track for yourselves with these five stages of grief and loss… because it’s cold.
This stage varies widely from person to person. It’s true that a lot of us just end up wearing shorts for longer than we should when the winter weather washes in. I know that I personally refuse to take my winter coat out of the closet for at least a week after the temperature goes below freezing. Yes, it is a bad rule. No, I have no intention of changing it. Denial allows your brain to slowly, but surely, adjust to the change in your body is being forced to experience.
There are some people who take this stage a bit too far. We’ve all seen the guy that wears flip-flops when it’s below freezing. This is not the right way to deal with the cold. The reason they are called stages is because you have to move on to the next one. Otherwise, you are going to end up with fewer toes than you started with. The best way to deal with the Denial stage is to let it run its course. Eventually, you’ll understand the gravity of your situation.
While the other stages in this process can last days or even months, the Anger stage is a single moment in time. It occurs when you have again, gone outside without an appropriate amount of layers. As the wind bites at your cheeks and the cold shivers up your spine, your nipples become hard enough to slice deli meat so thin that even the pickiest grocery store patron would be satisfied.
You make it a couple of steps away from your front door and the anger comes out. “Fuck this! I need a coat!” The healing has begun.
Just as the healing begins, the Bargaining stage begins. This stage could more accurately be described as the Complaining stage, because that’s all anyone does during it. Whiny Facebook statuses, exasperated tweets and dramatic text messages about every icy breeze, every inch of snow and every frozen car door flood the world with the intensity of a tidal wave.
While this stage can come across as annoying, it is necessary to the process. The key to getting past the Bargaining stage is, again, allowing the stage to run its course. If you don’t get your aggression out into the world via social media, what else are you going to do? Sit at home and watch Netflix? Well… we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
If we’re renaming stages, this is the “Sit At Home And Watch Netflix” stage. Right before you accept the fact that you aren’t going to see the sun for a couple of months, you go into what could be commonly recognized as “hibernation.” You eat pizza and fast food that is almost exclusively delivered to your house, you alternate between your bed and the couch like they are your only source of oxygen and you do your best to trick friends into coming over for a “movie night” that consists of every film that pits characters against the sun.
There isn’t a lot you can do to avoid this stage. If you really want to make the effort to go out in the cold, congratulations. You aren’t going to have much company, but if you really think you have to get that jog in, go to town.
This never comes until after you’ve broken your New Year’s resolution. Once your fingers have numbed to the cold and your cheeks are permanently red from the closest thing you’ve experienced to frostbite, there is a calming sense of being initiated. Granted, you’ve survived nearly four months of frozen weather and your winter coat has probably seen more mud puddles and snowballs than 1950’s school children. But the beach is only a few short months away and you aren’t going to want to miss out on all those summer festivals.
So, bundle up and buy some hand warmers. There is no such thing as cold weather; only unprepared people. While you might have hoped this article would provide tips and suggestions on how to deal with the loss of the warm weather, that is unfortunately not what the Five Stages of Grief and Loss are for. They are designed to help you know what is coming so you can adequately prepare yourself for it. So, login to your GrubHub account, pop on some Netflix and fire up your Facebook because winter isn’t going anywhere, but neither are you.