Laparva, Chile
photo:Adam Clark
Laparva, Chile photo:Adam Clark

Coping With Loss… of Winter

Grieving the end of the season may be one of the hardest challenges skiers face

PHOTO: Adam Clark

Coping with the end of a season you love is one of life's biggest challenges, especially for skiers. Winter is our best time of year—full of friends, fond memories, questionable decisions, and deep powder snow. Often, the pain of rising temperatures and melting snow can feel overwhelming.

As warmth returns to your fingers, your shin bang starts to heal, your toes are no longer falling off, and your knees gradually re-lubricate themselves, you may experience a range of difficult and unexpected emotions; from shock or anger to disbelief, guilt, and profound sadness. These emotions are cyclical, resurfacing during this time every year, which can lead some of you to feel like this pain is bound to happen again and again and again. We understand.

The pain of having to hang up your skis can also disrupt your physical health, making it difficult to sleep in your own bed, eat (foods other than meats, cheeses or beer), or even think straight. Returning to a regular schedule of bathing can also be troublesome to navigate and can lead to feelings of confusion. Perhaps you’ve grown a beard and find yourself unrecognizable after shaving for the first time (you too, ladies). These are normal reactions to the end of winter. But while there is no right or wrong way to grieve, there are healthy ways for skiers to cope with this change of season.

These tips can help ease your sadness and help you come to terms with the loss of winter, find new meaning for your life, and reemerge as a productive member of society again—until next fall.

Find a supportive community:

Grief caused by the loss of winter can often lead us to feel alone and isolated. You are not alone. While the end of winter occurs at different times throughout the northern hemisphere (and might not happen here or here), it happens to everyone.

Turn to your friends and family members for support. Now is the time to lean on those who best understand your grief—your bartender, the seasoned lifty, your local ski tech. By engaging in open and honest dialogue about your feelings at this time, you can help each other overcome the obstacle of grieving the end of another ski season.

Take time for self care:

When you're grieving, it's more important than ever to take care of yourself—especially considering the crap you put your body through over the past five to six months. You've slept on floors, dirty couches, in the back of your car; you haven't eaten well; you've certainly over-served yourself on one or seven occasions; not to mention the sheer brutality of actually skiing. You deserve a break, a chance to let your mind reset, your body to heal, your liver to dry out. Only then can you truly process the changes at hand and let yourself feel your feelings.

Don't be afraid to express those feelings by posting a #tbt powder shot on Instagram captioned with a John Muir quote (some do’s and don’ts) and make sure to tag the close friends you probably won’t talk to again until the first snow of 2018.

Don't let anyone tell you how to feel—your grief is your own and no one but you knows when you're ready to "move on" from skiing. It's okay to cry, shout, or even laugh. Try subscribing to The Skier’s Magazine for some solace. Additionally, keep an eye out for emotional triggers that could upset you. If seeing your skis by the door in the heat of July will bother you, plan ahead and store them out of sight.

Think reaching into your pocket to find the crust of a chairlift sammie (or the crust of a ‘roach) could set you off? Make sure you empty your jacket pockets sooner instead of later.

Seek professional help:

The sadness of a changing season never goes away completely, but it shouldn't paralyze you from enjoying off-season activities you love, like rollerblading. However, sometimes the loss of winter, especially one filled with powder days like this, is so severe, you may need to seek outside help in coping.

Don't be embarrassed or ashamed—the bond you share with skiing powder snow is deep and meaningful. We suggest finding the oldest, saltiest, most weathered skier you know, someone experienced in coping with these changes for 60-plus years, and let them know you’re struggling. Skiers help skiers.

Stay hopeful:

The bleakness of summer may seem imminent now, but fear not—winter will return again. It’s just on the horizon, really. And just think—on your last day of skiing, just remember—only 364 more days until next year’s closing day.