By Lisa Noland
Hospice of Anchorage 

Spring break-up and the stages of loss and grief


May 1, 2022 | View PDF

Most Alaska residents really look forward to the time of year we call “break-up.” This is always in April and May. We can count on overnight temperatures being above freezing. We see colors moving through shades of gray and brown to lovely emersion of greens as the daylight extends and it’s warmer. We navigate through patches of ice and compact snow as we drive and walk places. We step through puddles that are seemingly everywhere. Alaskans in our area understand that break-up is a stage in time that will usher in the lushness of our summer growing season. We look forward to that time when the buds on the trees burst into full leaves, and the roads are clear and dry. Hiking, biking and walking the community trails becomes easier. There seems to be more time to tuck in all the outdoor activities we love so much, due to the increase in hours of light.

Stages of loss and grief after losing someone we love to death is unique to each person. Similarly, to us here in Alaska, we often go through a dark time of overwhelming sadness that is like winter. The shock of losing someone so precious to us and fear of the unknown is chilling and a cold shock. As we digest the realization that life is moving forward whether we choose to participate or not, we may go through feelings of frustration and anger. Maybe we begin to feel more comfortable about telling some people what has happened and trying to make sense of the loss.

This period is like spring break-up. Moving through the loss and grief to find comfort and hope is like Alaskans living through the cold and dark of winter and emerging into spring break-up.

Break-up is a time that requires patience, as does the journey of healing. Each person navigating this complex experience of loss has their own individual healing process. There is no given timeline. For many, there is a time that arrives that shows glimmers of hope and a brighter future. This is a time like spring break-up.

The mission of Hospice of Anchorage is to help individuals and families prepare for and live well with serious, life-limiting illness, dying and grief. We seek to build a caring community of help, hope and comfort. We rely on generous grant funding from places such as the State of Alaska, United Way, First National Bank of Alaska, and the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority as well as people just like you. If you would like to know more about what Hospice of Anchorage has to offer, please visit our website at, and like and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Lisa Noland is the Hospice of Anchorage Executive Director.


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