Stormy Weather and its Inevitable Symbolic Meanings

Written by: Jorinde Berben
Image credit: Jorinde Berben

‘I still have a blog post to write today,’ I tell my sister, ‘Any ideas?’
‘How about the storm we’ve just had…’ she said, ‘and the incredibly clear sky after it had blown over.’
‘Yeah, I’m sure I can do something with that!’

So here goes:

We’ve had particularly stormy weather the past few days. On Friday, a storm by the name of Eunice (does anyone still use this name for their newborns?) passed through which was strong enough to warrant the school closing and me cancelling therapy for my son. We stayed inside, drank hot drinks and watched a movie. It was cosy, just so long as we kept our gaze turned away from the windows. Yet keeping an eye on what the storm was doing outside was also important: we needed to see if there were branches about to crack, or whether there was furniture that needed tying down. Eunice needed a check-up from time to time.

There are many times in which storms of any kind rage through our lives. It could be a divorce, or a child being ill, or a friend who had an accident, or a house burning down. During the storm, it can get pretty scary. And often, we try to avert our eyes, draw the curtains and put a movie on to distract from the feeling of unease. There is, indeed, no point in constantly panicking through it (I’ve tried this approach and it did not make any storm blow any less), but it can be important to stick our heads through the windows from time to time to assess the situation. Is everyone still safe? What damages can we already see? Is there something we can do to prepare for what’s coming next?

What comes next after a storm is invariably the dying down of said storm. Unless you’re on Jupiter, no one gets caught in storms that rage forever. And often, the first moments after the storm has settled are moments of singular clarity.

Maybe you’ve experienced this clarity right after someone passed away, or after a child was born, or you were fired from a job. It seems as if, suddenly, the important things in life come into a very clear focus. You assess the damages of the storm, sometimes with a surprising emotional calm that doesn’t seem to fit the situation. Often, we find that human beings in these moments after a crisis rise to the occasion in remarkable ways, finding strength and perseverance where they wouldn’t have suspected to have any.

Eunice, like most other storms, was also followed by a strikingly clear blue sky and bright sun. But it didn’t last. The day after, tears of rain started streaming down the windows. The type of weather that is not so much scary as it is dreary and depressing.

So it is often, too, after the storms have settled in our lives and we’ve done the first assessments and given emergency aid: we see the losses and we mourn. Grieving is the part of the process where we might really feel like we lose control. Sure, the storm itself is uncontrollable, but the adrenaline we feel while going through it can give us a sense of strength and purpose. Grief doesn’t make us feel strong, purposeful, or calm. It can overtake us at a moment’s notice and leave us distraught in its wake.

There is only one way to get through a storm and its aftermath, and that is to weather it (pun intended) as well as we possibly can. We can try to find our strength when strength is needed, ask for help whenever and wherever we can and give in to grief when the time has come to mourn our losses. And we can try to remember, every step of the way, that we are not alone.

For now, let’s just hope it stays calm for a while.

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