Recently my 20 year old son moved out of our home. Last week my daughter graduated secondary school and soon will turn 18 and get her licence.
I hadn’t really planned for this stage of life, mostly because it came up so fast, but if I am honest, it’s because I have been in denial about it.
Now, I am a big fan of change, I thrive on it, but when the change involves my losing control of something, including outcomes and especially the protection of my babies, that, I struggle with.
For example, when my son got his licence and drove away from me for the first time, I spent 2 days crying under a doona on the couch, pouring myself over baby pictures and drowning my sorrows in 3 seasons of ‘Friends’ and 27 packets of Tim Tams.
This, by the way, is perfectly ok. We are allowed to have our feelings and to experience grief and loss over more than someone dying.
We can experience grief and loss when we have a baby – grief over the loss of our previous way of life and loss of our freedom as we knew it.
We can grieve the loss of a child from the home when they move out – grief over the loss of ability to protect our children and the clear outline of our job description.
We can grieve the loss of a job, moving house, finishing school, or other significant life changes.
We were given emotions and feelings to feel. Its ok, have them, feel them.
While it is ok to experience grief over the loss of a stage of life, It’s not productive to let it overtake you or let it linger for longer than is healthy for you, (there is no standard timeframe to measure by, it is individual, based on the event and the person living it. You just have to just work that out for yourself as you go). For me it is about 2-4 days, then, I am up and at ‘em, ready to power on.
It is important to note, this does not cover grief and loss over the death of a loved one, only other life changes. Loss of loved ones is a significantly bigger change and requires much more time and self-care than other life changes.
When you have allowed yourself to feel sad about your life change and you feel you have given it adequate processing time and respect, it is time to find the positive gain that will result from the change.
In my current ‘life change’ case, it is my kids growing up, moving on and not needing me anymore.
Here is how I positively process this…
Loss – nobody needs to be picked up from school or driven around anymore.
Gain – nobody needs to be picked up from school or driven around anymore.
I have extra time on my hands and freedom to be where I want, when I want.
Loss – I can’t protect them, they are out of my physical reach.
Gain – the knowledge that I have equipped them with the ability to make good and positive decisions.
I know them well enough to know they are good, smart people, but even good, smart people have hard experiences, its part of life and is what develops our character. My kids are no different. This is their time to grow, learn, make mistakes and become mature.
Gain – the development of my faith to know and believe that they are not out of the reach of Gods protection.
Gain – a new stage of life for me, with time and freedom to do new, extra things for myself and others. (Yay for the others.)
So while I am processing the change in my life that brings to an end, 20 years of raising, and protecting the young people I have been blessed with, I realise I haven’t lost the job of loving them, encouraging them and still being there for them whenever they need me. It’s not all over, it’s just different.
Now I will start to plan my next exciting adventures. Let’s face it; we all need a purpose and goals for direction. I have my plans and goals and I am ready to hit the ground running with my new found freedom and spare time. Oh, and my new found gym room, which used to be an Xbox gaming lounge!
Reflect and respond
Are you faced with a major change in your life at the moment?
Have you asked yourself how you are feeling about it?
To help you process the changes, write yourself a list of all the things you are losing as a result of this situation. Make sure you include all of the wonderful blessings that came during this phase of life and everything you are grateful for.
Now on a separate list, write of all the new things you will gain.
Have a goodbye celebration to the list of losses, thank them for being there but tell them it’s time for them to move on. Take your paper and either burn it (safely), or make it into a paper boat and float it down a creek or river if you have one handy, or just throw it in the bin if you like simplicity.
Now take your list of positive gains and start setting some goals around them. Make sure your goals areSMART goals –
Specific – include specific details about your goal. Try not to be vague or wordy.
Measurable – how will you know if you are getting there or when you have arrived?
Achievable – make sure it is something you can do, even if it stretches you to learn, grow and takes you outside your comfort zone. The fastest way to discourage yourself and give up is to set goals outside your ability and reach
Relevant – is this goal relevant to you, your life, your big picture, gifts, talents, personality and passions?
Timed – you must give yourself time a limit, an end date to work towards.
Now it’s time for an exciting new stage of life. Get moving.
Find your passion
Unlock your potential
Live your dreams
x Fiona x