Endings – Good grief!

We’ve reached that moment for enjoying the dying days of 2013. This time last year we were pondering the significance of the Mayan calendar completing a full cycle as we ended 2012 on the Gregorian calendar. It was an ending of sorts but it was not the end.

Our life stories are made up of events with beginnings and endings. We’re good with beginnings. We congratulate and celebrate when things begin: new job, new relationship, new house, new car, new child, life in a new city. With our obsession with birthdays you have to wonder whether what we’re celebrating is remembering the beginning or the countdown to the inevitable ending. Maybe birthdays are about giving thanks for another year of life but, then again, there are a lot of people who don’t want to acknowledge the actual number of solar revolutions they’ve made in this life time.

This is the time of year when we reflect on the year that’s been and anticipate the year ahead. It’s a moment of transition from an ending to a beginning.

In my experience we are not good at endings. We either rush, ignore or prolong endings. Some cultures have rituals to help people cope with endings, especially that ending that most of us dread: the end of a life. Think of southern european women dressed in black for a specified period after the death of a loved one, and when you realise that some of them never get out of the black, you can see that even with rituals sometimes we still fail to deal with endings.

Grieving is the name we give to the process of dealing with endings. Most of us think of grieving in the context of the death of a loved one. If you have experienced the sense of loss that accompanies the death of a spouse, child or parent you know what I’m talking about. You’ll also probably know that there is good grief and disabling grief.

Good grief is when you work through the stages from initial denial and anger through to acceptance. Disabling grief is when you get stuck in the process and can’t move through to acceptance.

Do you grieve other endings? How many of us are still embittered over the end of a relationship, the loss of a job, moving from a neighbourhood or the loss of a favourite book? What do you do when things end in your life? And, let’s face it, things end all the time. The only thing that doesn’t change is the process of change itself.

So, while you’re reflecting on the end of 2013, take a moment to acknowledge all the little endings that you experienced during the year. Which losses are you still holding on to? Are there any that you’re still pretending haven’t happened? Are there any endings you have been putting off because you’d rather stay with your fantasies than deal with reality?

Remember, all endings lead to new beginnings.

2014

Love and blessings to all for 2014,

Peter

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