Moving on from Losses
All Saints Day, Day of the Dead, and Halloween (derived from the European pagan holiday of Samhain) are all celebrations that reflect the human experience of having to accept losses, deaths, and endings as inevitable aspects of life. We can always take some comfort in knowing that endings lead to beginnings. At this time of year, you might want to take the opportunity to let go of what is already dying or lost in your life so that you can ready yourself for what is being born or appearing on the horizon.
Change is inevitable, but it’s natural for us to struggle with it. Many of my clients come to me because they are in transition and in need of guidance and support as they experience a major life change. Even if you eagerly anticipate a transition to something better, you might feel mixed emotions because with these beginnings come endings. It can be hard to let go of the familiar even when the familiar isn’t working for you anymore. You might also be dealing with a loss that you did not choose to experience, and feeling resistant to the change.
To be more resilient and better cope with a particular loss and transition, you might wish to set your intention to ask your inner wisdom for answers to these three questions, which are best posed while you are in a meditative state:
What insights do you have for me about this ending and the losses associated with it?
What do I need to let go of so I can move forward?
What do I need to bring in so I can move forward?
Your unconscious mind may give you answers in the form of an inner knowing, an image, a word, or a sound—or something else.
Later, ponder the answers that came to you, perhaps journaling about them, so you can begin to write a new story about the losses you experienced. For example, a story called, “I’m sad and upset about that chapter in my life having ended” can turn into “I’m sad that chapter ended, but I am eagerly looking for opportunities to have new experiences that will bring me joy and fulfillment.” A story called, “I can’t eat my favorite foods anymore, and I hate having to exercise” can be replaced with “I choose not to eat the way I used to or live a sedentary life anymore, but I am enjoying learning how to eat more healthfully and exercising in pleasurable ways.”
How do you bring those stories to life so that they are true for you?
You may have to let go of the belief that the situation you were in—a particular job or romantic relationship, for example—was the only one that could lead you to happiness. You may have to bring in the confidence that you are capable of finding and creating a new situation that is as rewarding and enjoyable or even more so.
Let your unconscious mind’s hidden wisdom appear in your awareness. You might be surprised by what you learn.
In this process of responding to losses and endings, let yourself feel any fear, anger, or sadness. In feeling and observing them, you help yourself to release their energy. Uncomfortable though it may be to cry, feel scared, or experience being angry, experiencing and releasing these emotions opens you up to an energetic shift. Then, it will be easier to bring to life a new and better story, one that replaces the one that was focused on loss. You will probably find it easier to feel optimistic, curious, and even excited as you transition into a new story that you have consciously chosen for yourself.
Moving on from losses is easier when you release the past and your emotions, clearing out the old to make way for the new.
(You can learn more about moving on from losses in my book Change Your Story, Change Your Life.)
Carl Greer, PhD, PsyD, is a retired clinical psychologist and Jungian analyst, a businessman, and a shamanic practitioner, author, and philanthropist funding over 60 charities and more than 850 past and current Greer Scholars. He has taught at the C.G. Jung Institute of Chicago and been on staff at the Replogle Center for Counseling and Well-Being.