Transitions, Endings, and Loss
We are in the midst of a whopper of a transition. What an understatement.
Transitions, by their nature are stressful. What makes them stressful is the uncertainty, not knowing, and disorientation. Knowing that they can lead to greater meaning, purpose, and understanding may help us understand the process.
One of my main guides is William Bridges, who wrote a book called Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes. This book has saved my life many times.
While we are sheltered in and facing a pernicious virus, global health crisis, and business disruption, Bridges reminds us of the phases of transition.
1. An Ending
2. A Middle/In-Between Place/ Time of Uncertainty
3. A New Beginning
EVERY TRANSITION BEGINS WITH AN ENDING
A transition, like the one we’re experiencing with COVID 19, involves endings. There’s a loss of life as we knew it. There is loss of jobs, workplace, school, shopping, leisure activities, dining out, and seeing friends and family. It is the loss of routine, predictability, alone time, and connection. There’s a loss of gathering to worship, cheer on a team, celebrate holidays, and so much more. It can be the ending of how we see ourselves too.
Feelings my include: loss, grief, sadness, emptiness, fear, loneliness, anger, impatience, depression, and anxiety. Knowing this is part of the process and acknowledging feelings helps us cope, move into the next phase, and provides grounding.
I’ve taken the liberty to update Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote: “Not in our goals, but in our transitions humankind is great.”
Questions of the Month
–What’s ending for you, your family, your work, your community, your world?
–How can you express your feelings about what’s ending?
–What remains constant in your life in the midst of all the endings?
–What routines, values, and strengths can you count on, even in this uncertain and fluid environment?
Practice of the Week
Self-Observation: Tending to Loss and Grief
Notice what has ended. Notice how you feel about this ending. Where do you feel it in your body? How can you honor the loss? Who can you talk with about this loss and your feelings?