Dana Darrow, LCSW
The human condition calls us at times to endure a season of darkness, but somehow a light deep within us, however small, provides hope that we will survive; that we will transition through.
We all go through periods of change and transformation in our lives. Sometimes this can happen through unexpected events such as a death, divorce, loss of a relationship, relocation, job loss, financial problems, illness, etc. Even expected events such as a job transfer, empty nest, going back to school, marriage, falling in love etc. can create a deep disequilibrium that creates chaos in our lives.
During these times, our understanding and familiarity with our world changes, and we must figure out how to grapple with this new way of being. It is common to feel somewhat disoriented during times of transformation. This may be experienced in all varying degrees from profound to just feeling “out of kilter.”
It is not unusual for people who have just heard of the sudden loss of a loved one to experience physical and emotional shock and disbelief. Of course, this can also occur when we are fired, hear that we or someone we love has a terminal illness or that our partner no longer wishes to be in a relationship with us. Our world and our understanding of what we knew has shifted dramatically, and we know that we will never be the same again.
Sometimes we ask, “Who am I now?” “What do I do now?” “Will I ever feel happy again?”
One thing that helps is to be able to process through this disorientation with others who can provide support and reassurance. This can help us stay awake and aware, not feel so isolated and alone, and help provide a safe environment to verbalize and begin to integrate the changes that have occurred. It can be profoundly helpful to have an individual or a community witnessing and validating our struggle and movement through this transition.
It is important to take care of yourself emotionally and physically during this time. Don’t try to rush understanding of what has happened. Let the process evolve naturally without blaming, shaming and heaping guilt on yourself or others. Take a deep breath.
Ways to care for yourself:
Find someone you trust to talk to about what has happened.
Be mindful about how distracted you might be at this time, especially when driving.
Try to go to bed at the same time every night and get adequate sleep.
Let yourself cry when you need to cry. Holding in tears and emotions can literally make you physically ill.
Make an appointment to see your doctor if you feel you need to do so.
Go for walks out in nature.
It may be helpful to begin a journal to express your journey through this time of transition.
Meditate to help still your mind and thoughts.
Exercise, go get a massage, do yoga; something physical to help you stay in touch with your body.
Watch what you consume as far as food and alcohol.
Most importantly, be kind and loving to yourself. You will get through the disorientation and transformation in time. Remind yourself of all you have been through, and see the strength you have even though you may not feel strong in the moment. A different “you” will eventually emerge from the loss you have experienced as you find a new way of understanding yourself and your world.