Working with Transitions

Heraclitus said, “The only thing that is constant is change.” Changes in life are guaranteed. Whether it’s a new career, the beginning or end of a relationship or the loss of a loved one, transitions are part of being human…but that doesn’t make them any easier to deal with. Transitions can be overwhelming and, in some cases, debilitating. So how is one to work through transitions?

  1. In all change there is opportunity. It may be hard to see it at the time you are experiencing it, but all change brings growth. In every challenge there is a gift. About 15 years ago, I was assigned to teach 6th grade. I had never taught any grade but 1st and was petrified. I hated every minute of it, but out of that came a beautiful friendship with another teacher which I still have to this day. In addition, I learned new techniques for coping with stress and anxiety.

  2. Be present. You are here. You are safe. You are loved. No matter what changes are happening around you, those three things are givens. When we lost our dog Macca, we were devastated. Sometimes it felt as if we were drowning in grief. However, we kept being pulled back to the present by our rabbit, Vera. She needed constant care and attention. Her presence reminded us that the loss of Macca was not the end of the world: we still had a purpose, a reason to keep going.

  3. Up the ante on self-care. Yoga, meditation, working out, walks in nature: whatever you do to make yourself feel good, do it! Be gentle with yourself: transitions are challenging. Our bodies and minds get stuck in the way we think things “should” be and are resistant to change. Reconditioning ourselves to accept a new job, relationship change or loss of a loved one is hard. Spend more time than usual pampering yourself.

  4. Call on your tribe. Everyone needs a support system throughout their life, and going through transitions is the perfect time to call on yours. Surround yourself with the love and attention from those who you rely on: family, friends and/or coworkers. Paul took a week off when Macca went to the Rainbow Bridge, but after that I was on my own. I knew I would need my friends to help me: I went to the mall with one, went for a walk with another, took my sister to my acupuncture appointment. I didn’t want to be alone, and my friends and family came through in amazing ways.

If transition becomes too much for you, consider seeking professional help. Looking outside of yourself to others for support and love may be needed.



Working with Grief

Grief looks and feels different for everyone. After we lost Macca and Vera, I was frustrated with the limited advice on the grieving process. So many choose to describe it as something to “get through” and “manage.” I believe your grief is something you work with and experience. What does this mean?

*Acknowledge - first step: accept that you are grieving. Do not try to fight/hide/disguise your pain; accept it for what it is: your body’s way of working with a profound loss of some type. Welcome the grief into your life like an old friend. It sounds strange, but pain comes from resistance. Accept your grief as a part of you until you heal and no longer need it.

*No timeline - Have you ever encountered someone who started a new relationship after their spouse or partner passed away? Or a person who adopted again when they just lost a beloved pet? If so, I bet the thought “it’s too soon” ran through your mind. Don’t worry: I have had the same reaction. But the truth is, there is no such thing as “too long” or “not long enough” when grieving. It may take you five months, five weeks, five years, or more. I still grieve over Macca and Vera, every day. The point is, you know what is best for you. Do not let others control your healing.

*What you feel is right - no matter what that may be. Shame, guilt, regret, sadness, relief, hopelessness. It does not matter what the emotion is: if you are feeling it, it is okay and normal. There is no “right” and “wrong” way to feel when grieving; anyone who tells you otherwise should not be someone you surround yourself with.

*Journal - I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: rage, my friends, RAGE! Getting all that emotion out onto the page helps you release your emotions and begin the healing process.

Grief is a facet of life that we will all work with at some point. If we acknowledge it, take the time we need with it and realize that whatever we’re feeling is normal, we help our bodies heal.

Namaste friends,