Spring and summer remind me of the emerging human spirit. Watching a new plant powering through the barren ground into the light of the sun is a metaphor for the incredible resurgent powers that every person possesses. Just like a plant, we are often called to fight through the darkness of our lives so that we may reach the light.
There is not a single one of us who is immune from changing times. These transitions can be excruciating and confusing for they take us from a place of comfort and safety into the physical, emotional and spiritual world of the unknown. There is no greater battle for us as humans than the one we face when forced to live in those in-between places amid who we have been while we evolve into the new person we are becoming.
Transitions define the journey of our souls. They are the tools a Higher Power uses to shake us, regardless of our age, sex, social or financial status, back onto the journey of becoming self-actualized. Transitions can abruptly remove the props we used to hold up our self-image. They can mark a time of deep confusion and identity loss.
Doctor Elisabeth Kübler-Ross was a Swiss-American psychiatrist who published her influential book, On Death & Dying, in 1969. She introduced the five stages of grief to explain human behavior during times of trauma. According to Doctor Kubler-Ross, any event that affects our sense of safety and comfort can cause us to grieve. This means the five stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are transferable—at least in varying degrees—to any meaningful personal life change that causes deep emotional stress. We know death and bereavement cause grief in most people, but so too can events like work disillusionment, forced relocation, crime and punishment, disability and injury, relationship break-up, financial despair, bankruptcy and even retirement.
My grief journey
Over six years ago, I experienced a trifecta of loss. The end of a twenty-plus year relationship coincided with my retirement from a formal career. The combination of these two events triggered a move to another state. These endings presented changes in my life I had given little thought to heretofore. I went through the five stages of grieving. Sometimes I did so gracefully, and other times I cursed the universe for leading down this unwanted path. This was an arduous time in my life, but I recognize now it was a necessary and valuable period. I also realized that remaining angry would not change any outcomes.
As I look back, I wish I could have taken an emotional detour around the first four stages and headed to acceptance, for this phase led me to contemplate the depth of my spiritual framework. Coming in touch with my spiritual self during these periods of internal turmoil helped me redefine my spiritual beliefs. This was the greatest blessing I received for this inner work.
The net result of these changes allowed me to see there are no failures in life, only lessons. This marked a fresh beginning for me and I could feel grateful for what had happened. I could still choose a path of anger, hate, bitterness and revenge, but those things had not served me well when I had relied on them in the past.
Endings and beginnings are important parts of life
Developing into our most authentic selves is our destiny. Endings and beginnings help the Universe/God trigger our development. I would have never thought my soul would expand so much from experiencing these major losses, but today I am more alive than ever, still creating, contributing, growing and learning. I feel great passion for my life purpose, and I am connected to what is empowering and life-giving. Love has even become a reality for me once again.
Endings are painful and scary, but they are opportunities to begin life anew. Call it a rebirth or a reinvention of self, endings can become positive experiences if you open your mind to the realities you had been hiding from yourself all along. They will also teach you that choosing a path of love and gratitude is much better than the path of hate and bitterness.
Remember, paying gratitude for your life forward will reward you with glorious feelings of joy and contentment.