She unexpectedly started to cry. She had been enthusiastically talking about her child’s high school graduation and acceptance to a highly rated university. But then, as she began to share that the university was across the country, in an eastern province, it suddenly hit her. Her daughter had grown up. She was leaving home.
And now, the shape of her family was going to significantly change. And with this emerging awareness, she experienced an unanticipated and overwhelming sense of grief.
Yet, within this crazy, busy, uncertain life we really should not be surprised when we are bombarded with regular change and transition points. Where the shape and look and feel of our lives are altered.
For we all move through developmental stages as we age. Our families will experience fluctuations and change complexions with births, graduations, children moving out, marriages, and loss. We will change jobs, and even change responsibilities within the same jobs. We will face illnesses, resulting in changes to health and lifestyle. We will move homes and neighbourhoods. Political leaders and parties will change. Social norms and culture evolve, and bring change. Friendships change over time. And as we learn new things our thinking and feelings change.
And as we walk through each of these inevitable changes, we will be required to transition and transform. Accommodate and adapt.
For whenever we move into or towards something, we have to release something.
Generally we are able to anticipate most upcoming milestones and stages with a sense of optimism and enthusiasm. But we can often find ourselves quite unprepared to deal with the under-acknowledged elements of change that are associated with loss and grief.
Perhaps this happens because we try to avoid facing the darker aspects of change. Or we are surprised by an unexpected change in our circumstances. Maybe a milestone just snuck up on us. Sometimes we are unprepared because we discover the changes are different, and feel different, than how we envisioned. Or maybe, we are just not ready because we don’t tend to talk as openly and transparently and authentically about this side or underbelly of change.
But whatever the reason, we can be caught off guard by change. Blindsided by the unexpected loss and grief.
But it is possible to become better prepared.
By communicating with others we can learn and grow through other’s experiences with change. We can pick up the language of loss and grief.
By seeking support. For it is in the sharing we feel a sense of “me too.”
And leaning in on the certainty that despite the ever-changing shape of our lives – God remains constant and steady and unchanging.
For, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) And, “I the LORD do not change.” (Malachi 3:6)
God’s immutability is reassuring, for its certainty can help us to hold onto joy and optimism, as we work through the sorrow and heartache.
For an index of all my posts in the series, please click here.
Photo Credits: Scott Webb, Sam Manns, Felix Russell Saw, from Unsplash