April is the Cruelest Month

Spring is here, and, with it, new delights and new challenges.  The poet T.S. Eliot wrote that “April marks the return of the lilacs, and the mixing of memory and desire”.   How do you react to spring?  Do the increased hours of daylight-   or the chance to get out of your winter boots-   bring a spring to your step?   That’s how we’re “supposed” to feel.  But perhaps someone you’re close to isn’t feeling that way.

Maybe your cousin didn’t get into the college of her choice this April.  Or maybe your colleague remembers that he was in love last spring, but experienced the end of that relationship this winter.  Maybe your wife sees the approach of Easter, Passover or other spring celebrations as anything but a happy gathering of family and friends.   April is the time for mixing memory and desire, all right, and that’s not always easy.

Is your friend wishing that spring would be that joyful time of new life and new promise, but not finding any lilacs blooming for him?   Being sad or depressed in the springtime not only feels bad, but can make him feel seriously out of step with those reveling in the sprit of the season. 

How can you help?  Acknowledge what you see and hear: “You look (or sound) kind of sad.”  Give him a chance to tell you about his feelings.  Ask if there’s anything practical you can do for him or if he’d like to talk about taking some kind of action to improve his situation.  And, importantly, be frank with him if you think that he should see a professional counselor or other helper.

Spring can be a joyful season, but any month can have its cruelty.

Be alert to a friend who may be out of step with the season’s festivities.

By asking “How can I help?” you might aid him in finding a way to enjoy the lilacs again.