Anytime there is a life change, the stages you go through can often mirror those of grief. If your only child or youngest finally goes off to college and moves out, you may experience “empty nest syndrome.” Or your 40-year career is finally winding to a close and the light of retirement that you once looked forward to at the end of a very long tunnel suddenly is replaced with a feeling you didn’t expect – sadness.
Say you’re moving out of state for a new job. Coming from personal experience, having moved around more than the average person (an ex-military brat), I can say that moving can be stressful on so many levels, not only physically but emotionally. You’re likely met with a heavy heart as you are faced to deal with saying goodbye to people, places and things that you’ll miss more than you can comprehend at the time. Saying sayonara to friends, relatives and, heck, even old routines makes you yearn for familiar stomping grounds.
New adventures and stages of life ought to be celebrated. Retirement is an exciting time. So is seeing your kids off to college, watching them get married and having families of their own. Packing up to make the big move to another city, state or country can be an exciting and fresh new start. There is no better time to literally “leave the past behind” and reinvent yourself than when you take an offer to make a bold move, whether that’s motivated by career or by the craving for real change.
But human nature often fights change because we fear the unknown because we are creatures of habit. And habits whether harmless routines or negative addictions can be difficult to break. It takes tenacity and discipline to follow through when deciding to give up an old bad habit and replace it with a healthy, good one.
Often people suffer alone with inner turmoil and deal with grieving in silence because they feel their situation is a minor one. But, you don’t have to deal with a dramatic, insane circumstance and tragedy in order to experience loss. Changes, even the best ones accompanied by an abundance of blessings, still means there’s a death of what was old. That’s what you might not realize, that you don’t have to deal with a literal death in order to experience the same emotional resonance at the core of your soul. Your body doesn’t know the difference between the death of a human and a death of a dream. Your body feels the loss all the same, but it’s up to us to acknowledge it and deal with it rather than ignore it or remain in denial of its existence.
Being a new mother has been a huge life change, something I’ve waited for much longer than other moms who decided to have their kids at a younger age. I chose to wait until after all of my schooling before finally taking the plunge into this new stage in my life. But even after all the waiting and planning, you never quite feel ready or prepared to be a first time parent. At least I can say this in my own personal experience. With new life comes an extraordinary amount of responsibility. You become second to the one life that depends on you for everything. It’s the ultimate selfless act. That’s a huge undertaking that new parents face, the dying to one’s self and learning the true meaning of unconditional love and sacrifice.
At first I felt the change as an overwhelming experience that affected my entire body, spirit, mind. It was a total-body change and it resonated so profoundly that I was unsure how to absorb the side affects that came with new motherhood. My life was no longer autonomous. But I made the conscious decision to surrender to my desires for all the old freedoms and was able to experience new joys and perspective that comes with such personal growth. You can’t experience life’s fullness unless you understand the pros and cons, the sadness and the happiness that all life changes carry.
The Bottom Line:
Life has many different stages whether we welcome them with open arms or fight them tooth and nail. Inevitably we all experience graduating from one chapter in our life and moving on to the next phase, whatever that might be. I think we place too much emphasis on high expectations. We shouldn’t expect ourselves to be bouncy and super happy during times when we’re “supposed to be” when life changes come with a range of emotions. When dealing with change there’s a three-dimensional component to the feelings that come with “new.” It’s exciting, scary, overwhelming, sometimes helpless, sad, tiring, overjoyed, on days depressed. But hopefully 80 percent of the time we can say we’re mostly happy. It’s okay to feel the range of emotions for good or bad as long as we don’t lose sight in that hopefully there’s a higher percentage of optimism.
If your dealing with any major life change, cut yourself a break and embrace the experience. Understand that the experience isn’t one-dimensional, and neither are you unless you are a robot. Our experiences live in our minds, body, spirit and soul. They are experienced ranging in emotions as colorful as the rainbow and vast as the color spectrum allows. So, don’t expect to be just one color, but embrace the spectrum of life the way its meant to and once you acknowledge stages of grief and parts of the old life you might now have to die to. You will experience a new you, a birthing if you will, into and reawakening to the new stage in your life.