Celebrate the Ending
In the local newspaper, I recently read about a local artist, Jennifer Davey, who uses her art to help process violence. It was her own interface with violence that brought urgency to the issue. In 1999, her close friend was robbed, beaten and stabbed in his apartment, right across the street from her own. He was dragged away and buried in a shallow grave outside of town.
That event turned her world upside down.
“I just remember feeling so hyperaware and ungrounded,” Davey said. “All these people were going through their normal day – like what the hell are you doing?”
Hear those feelings? Hyperawareness? Feeling ungrounded? That’s what it feels like to be rocked by sudden change.
As the article notes, the damage doesn’t disappear after the news cycle ends. “Violence happens quickly,” Davey said. “But understanding, compassion and empathy happen when we slow down.”
Transition happens on the inside
Because something in your world has changed doesn’t always mean that you are suddenly different. Not yet.
The reality is, change happens on the outside, and transition, or processing your emotions, happens on the inside. Change can happen in an instant, a transition can take a lifetime.
Violence is only one form sudden change can take. A sudden change could also include divorce, the death of a dear one, a birth, a job change, graduation, a geographic relocation, and many others. Life offers both brutal kicks and ecstatic wins to facilitate sudden change.
We know we have moved on when the door of the past has closed, and the new reality is fully embraced. Our new beginning has begun. That happens fastest when we give ourselves permission for the emotions to catch up and allow sufficient processing time.
And the frustrating thing is, there’s really no definition of what “sufficient” means. You’re on your own with no way to gauge progress or measure your pace or judge how much longer this funk will last. You simply face each day anew.
A Closing Ceremony
It helps a lot, when processing through sudden change, to honor the ending. All endings are about loss. Even good changes, like a much-anticipated wedding or a promising career move, include loss of what was before.
Mark your ending with this three-step ceremony for positive closure. Choose a quiet time, light a candle and meditate first to clear your mind.
- “Bury” what you want to leave behind. Sit quietly and think about what you are leaving behind that you don’t want to come back. This is not about lamenting, it’s about choosing to name what wasn’t working anyway. Capture on a list everything you want to leave behind. Develop your own ritual to release them. You can bury, burn, or tear that list into tiny bits and flush it.
- Celebrate the end. Give yourself a party, even if it’s only a cupcake with a candle, to mark the moment. There are reasons to celebrate this ending if for no other reason than it is the gate to a new beginning. Take a picture. Make a piece of art. This is the Last Day Ever. YAY!
- Take pieces of the past with you. As part of your reflection process, name what you want to bring with you. Create reminders for yourself as you move into your new beginning.
This three-step process works for any pivotal moment in your life. You can do this on your birthday every year, at the New Year’s, on a holiday that has special meaning for you.
Say thank you, and let it go.
I would love to hear about your experience of processing through a sudden change. What was it like for you? Please comment below.