Don’t fear change, embrace it. ~ Anthony J. D’Angelo
In my last post, I talked about unexpected grief that occurs after we start to feel better and think, “well, maybe I’m over this…” In that situation we’ve been grieving and that grief itself isn’t as unexpected as the length or timing of it.
The other form of unexpected grief can take is when the grief itself is unexpected. Often we don’t even identify what we are experiencing as grief initially (or maybe not at all). This kind of grief usually appears when something generally considered positive or good happens in our lives. Examples might include marriage, a new job, moving, a new baby, etc. In this situation we might find ourselves wondering why on earth we are crying or feeling sad when we are overall feeling excited or happy about this new change in our life.
I have found myself in this situation more than a few times in my life with multiples moves and job changes and general life changes. It still catches me off-guard. I’ll be excited and planning all the sorts of things that need to be done and then suddenly I’ll be crying and thinking to myself:
“What was I thinking? I don’t want this move/job/change! Everything will change! What if I’m making the wrong choice or my relationships with those I’m leaving change? I’ve changed my mind, I don’t want to do this anymore!”
This looks a lot like panic and flakiness.
At the core it’s really just another form of grief.
When things change, even if we deem the change as positive, something is lost. When we move we leave behind relationships and places filled with memories. When we have children, we lose the flexibility of doing anything without having to consider a dependent human. When we change jobs, we lose the comfort of knowing our routine and the familiarity of our co-workers (whether we liked them or not!). Granted, when things change we also gain many things – but in this initial phase of change, grief can flare up and mingle in with the excitement and happiness.
It is as important to care for and nurture ourselves in these times of unexpected grief as it is in times of expected grief. This can be made difficult because this type of grief is often seemingly invisible to others and to society. Many people will not recognize it. This makes it especially important that we recognize and acknowledge this grief to ourselves and take those steps to care for ourselves.
When those bubbles of unexpected grief and tears well up – do something kind for yourself. Take a long walk. Talk to a friend. Play with the dog or cuddle with the cat. Watch your favorite old movie. Read a trashy novel. Get a massage or facial. Swing on the swings.
As I like to say – give yourself some love.