Change is hard - pt. 2

Two weeks ago, we started the conversation about how all change, even good change, can bring loss. This week, let’s talk about how to acknowledge and navigate this grief and loss.

I believe it is important to grieve these losses in a similar way to any other loss. We need to hold space for this – it’s okay to be excited and happy about the good changes while also acknowledging the sadness and grief of that very change.

Thanks to pop psychology, or even an intro psych course in university, most folks can name the five stages of grief (if you can’t, don’t worry, you can find them here). And while these stages are valid, we know that they do not happen in an orderly, tidy fashion. They often happen in a messy, back and forth pattern that can last a lot longer than what society deems as “normal”.

I want you to know that grieving a loss, even a loss from good change, is normal. I want to share my recommendations for “holding space” for the grief and loss that comes with change...

Hold space for the grief and loss that comes with change:

1. Name it

Acknowledge it, label it, and talk about it with a trusted person. Naming our grief can take away the power it has.

2. Feel it

Give yourself time, intentional time, to feel the emotions that are coming up for you. Again, talk about it or write about it. Creating “intentional time” could be turning off your phone and allowing yourself time to feel your feelings or journal about them. Some people create and practice ceremonies around loss (burning letters, hosting a dinner, yoga practice, smudging etc.). Whatever you do, try not to ignore the feelings or push them down. They will find a way out somehow and can manifest in anxiety, depression, and aches and pains. Imagine your grief is playdough: if you try and hide it and hold on to it too tight, it comes out sideways.

3. Rename it

I almost want to say “let it go” here, but I don’t necessarily believe “letting go” is something folks need to do. Often “letting go” is synonymous with “forgetting” in our society and we never truly forget the experiences of grief and loss (even if we really, really want to). It is important to rename the experience for ourselves so, again, we are not ignoring it and shoving it in some deep, dark corner of our mind. Examples: “I am healing”, “I am moving through my grief” or “that experience shaped me but it does not define me”.

Honour your experiences.

I encourage you to honour your experiences and try the steps above. If you choose to move through the steps, I believe going through them with support from a group, a counsellor, a faith community or with friends and family makes it easier. Of course, this takes a lot of vulnerability – something Brene Brown talks about best.

If you find that you have been struggling with grief and loss and would like to explore this in a safe setting, please contact me.

Brené Brown studies human connection -- our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk at TEDxHouston, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity. A talk to share.