I find myself increasingly reflective as the weather turns from cold to colder in New York City. After a year of so much monotony, a change of any kind, even just of temperatures and the barrenness of trees, feels like a kindness.
The subtle shift of a turning season—the changes in the air, at first, slight, and then all at once—invariably invites perspective. As one season bleeds into the next, I’m reminded of the liturgy of loss that is so core to the human experience. As the sun rises the next day, I remember the healing balm of hope in what’s to come.
As the sun rises the next day, I remember the healing balm of hope in what’s to come.
In so many ways, this measured turning reflects our lives. The older we get, the more opportunities we have to look back and see the wild and wonderful ways our endings meet new beginnings.
The danger is when we white-knuckle our way into embracing the new without acknowledging the loss. In a culture so frantically desperate for quick fixes, fresh starts and happy endings, we must choose to bravely do the slow, important work of grieving.
We are living, breathing, ever-changing beings. To expect that the people, places and circumstances around us would remain constant throughout those changes is to deny the beautiful gift of a dynamic life and to rob ourselves of the chance to let go of what no longer serves us.
To expect that the people, places and circumstances around us would remain constant throughout those changes is to deny the beautiful gift of a dynamic life.
Said another way, we need to accept, and maybe even embrace, that one of the few certainties of life is change—abrupt or otherwise. Relationships end. Careers transition. Life stages morph. And so it goes.
With change, we are given the hard but holy gift of saying goodbye. It is redemptive work to look at what we once loved, what once made up our lives, what made us, at least in part, who we are today and to grieve the loss of that ending within the grounding hope of what begins anew.
With change, we are given the hard but holy gift of saying goodbye.
Grief honors our transitions. It acknowledges that something has changed, things have shifted and that a place once filled with the familiar now sits open and exposed to the elements of the unknown. Our desire to avoid pain may tempt us to rush past this process, forcing acceptance through gritted teeth of apathy, but allowing ourselves to feel the deep rub of loss—leaning into the friction of the old becoming new—creates space for the healing work of grief’s swells and stages.
The process requires patience; it takes courage and resolve to endure loss with open eyes. However, the result is an acceptance that is forged not forced, one that softens our souls to be able to receive once again.
What are some major transitions or changes that you have encountered recently? Why is it important to grieve transitions in order to step into something new?
Image via Raisa Zwart Photography