Child Loss and SAD: Seasonal Affective Disorder

Most people are familiar with SAD-Seasonal Affective Disorder-a cluster of symptoms mimicking depression that develop in otherwise healthy folks when the shorter days and longer nights of winter limit sunshine exposure. 

Fewer folks know that nearly every bereaved parent has his or her own version of SAD which has nothing to do with daylight/darkness cycles and everything to do with the calendar. 

For me, it starts in February and runs through May. 

The last time all my children were together was mid-February 2014 as we celebrated the youngest’s birthday.  I remember sitting outside on the unusually warm day and chatting about random things.  There were two upcoming graduations and my oldest son’s wedding.

Someone said, “Hey, we should get a picture.”  Someone else said, “Nah-we’ll be making lots of pictures this spring.”  

So we didn’t take one.  

Every year that’s the day my heart marks the beginning of the end.  

The beginning of a march toward the most awful thing that has ever happened to our family.  

family never gets over the death of a loved one

Then there’s the day Dominic came out to the farm to fix a friend’s car.  They needed the tools and shed to do the job.  We joked and talked and shared a meal.

Then I hugged him and he went on his way.

That grease-stained jacket is still hanging on a peg in the downstairs bathroom.

Spring Break.  I thought I’d see him again before classes resumed but a trip that lasted a day longer than it was going to meant he drove directly to his apartment.  So a couple of weeks passed before he was able to plan another weekend trek out to the house.

I had just exchanged a series of messages with him, sharing photos of the heavy rains that ran our creek out of the banks and almost into the elevated roadway.

julian and creek in 2014

We ended our texts with “I love you.  See you Saturday!”

My heart still accuses me for neglecting the days between the last time I saw Dominic and the last time he drew breath.  If I had known then what I know now…

But we don’t, do we?

So on my season goes. 

From February and all the “lasts” to April twelfth and the devastating news that my son would never come home again.

Then my heart marks the funeral, cleaning out his apartment and the first family celebration of which one of my children was not a part.

A few weeks later is Dominic’s birthday on May twenty-eighth when he doesn’t get any older but I get further away from the last time I hugged his neck.

A long sad season indeed.  

Every parent who is missing a child has their own.  A time when he or she wishes the world would both stop to take notice and spin faster to make the days pass.

My heart and body respond even if my mind tries to pretend these weeks are really no different than the rest of the year.

My son is still missing.  

My heart is still yearning.  

This is still the life I didn’t choose.  

dominic at olive garden


Author: Melanie

I am a shepherd, wife and mother of four amazing children, three that walk the earth with me and one who lives with Jesus. This is a record of my grief journey and a look into the life I didn't choose. If you are interested in joining a community of bereaved parents leaning on the promises of God in Christ, please like the public Facebook page, "Heartache and Hope: Life After Losing a Child" and join the conversation.

13 thoughts on “Child Loss and SAD: Seasonal Affective Disorder”

  1. Oh my word. I had this exact conversation with my husband yesterday.
    Every year I go through this SAD season. It starts the middle of March when he got his drivers license. And it ends after the date of the car accident in May.
    I am struggle so much in these weeks. Everyday I paste a smile on my face and head off to work with the memories coming back to me in full colour with every emotion intact.
    I almost look forward to May. I know it will be over,
    Until next year.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My season runs from May, the month of my son’s birthday, through July, the month he went to Heaven. I dread it EVERY. YEAR. This is my 3rd year of such a season of total sadness and emptiness. May God help us all.


  3. I am here, in MY season. Today marks the 4th birthday where my son is not here. The last time we celebrated both our birthdays together. Mother’s Day will be here before you know it, & I’ll hold the last card he ever gave me. Then his death day…. I relive his suicide & finding him….. & all that came after. And then I will begin to live the next 9 months, including the holidays & a new year, but always knowing THIS season is the hardest. I understand and accept that so many people have forgotten this day, that their lives have taken different directions, but it hurts not to hear someone say his name, just remember… so today I give myself permission to grieve my son who left this world too soon. I will cry as much as I need. The sun will rise in the morning, & I will forge ahead.


  4. I am also in my sad season. Mid March to early May ( easter to mother’s day). Easter is really hard, my 19 yr old son Justin passed away on Easter Sunday 2018. The actual date was April 1 but Easter is always sad too. My mind does try to push past it but I’m finding I am sleeping more, taking less care of my own well being, skipping normal things and not communicating as I normally do


  5. Omg. These are my thoughts, words, heartache, heartbreak. Thankyou for sharing so I know I’m not the only one who marks so many dates!


  6. I know this is my future. I lost my son on February 11th. He would have been 25 on May 13th. Next week I am going to celebrate the 1st birthday of his baby girl. Christmas to Memorial Day will likely be my ‘season’. Love and peace to you all.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is so, so hard-no detours or shortcuts. But I can say that at nearly six years sorrow is no longer all I feel nor my son’s absence no longer all I see. May the Lord overwhelm your broken heart with His grace, love and mercy. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Christmas thru April… She loved Christmas, 5 February she left us, 5 April is her birthday… But really, the rest of the year doesn’t seem to be much different. Wish the world would spin faster so I get be done with this…hugs.

    Liked by 2 people

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