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.


2 Replies to "Celebrate the Ending"

  • Renae Gregoire
    January 15, 2019 (10:08 pm)
    Reply

    Your writing is beautiful, Debra! And this message resonates with me so much. I once had an event rock my world, and a therapist I saw at the time explained that we all walk around with a “wall of unreality” keeping us sane.

    Just think about driving down a two-lane, narrow road with a semi coming at you from the opposite direction. We DON’T think about that. If we thought about “reality” all the time we’d go crazy.

    The event that happened took down MY wall of unreality. Everything, even my own body, seemed dangerous. I could trust nothing, no one. Only drugs could calm me down, at least for a little while. I eventually came out of it. The wall was rebuilt.

    But now I know it exists, and I constantly think about how it could come crashing down again … by that semi coming at me … by something happening to my child … by a lightning bolt … by a fall down the steps … by whoever is calling on my phone right now. Geez! I think I need a Merlot 🙂

    • Debra
      January 16, 2019 (3:46 am)
      Reply

      Holy cow, Renae, I’m so glad you’re better!

      The image of the “wall of unreality” is so powerful. Thank you for that. It reminds me of a bubble of protection, or “shields up” in the Starship Enterprise. When the shields are down, it’s a really fragile time.

      When I was going through a painful divorce (i.e. afloat in unreality-land), I kept a quote on my desk that said: “Life is a grindstone; whether it grinds you down or polishes you up depends on what you’re made of.” It gave me the strength to own my power because no matter what anyone else thinks, I know what I’m made of.

      It sounds like that experience ultimately made you more aware and alert. And thankful? How else did it show you what you’re made of?


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