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Transitions, some people don't make them

Monday | My story

It might seem an obvious outcome that life transitions go through a process with a completion. However, this is not always the case. So today, in ‘My Story’, I will share with you some experiences that I witnessed, that inspired me to develop better strategies to assist me through some of my major life transitions.

Losing three very important family members in five months was quite shocking. Each compounded the other. As part of assisting myself in this transition, I realised that I needed to be in a workplace where no one knew my story. It wasn’t that my workplace at the time wasn’t supportive, in fact they very much were, yet it felt like everyone looked at me with sadness.

Many people, wanting to show their support, took a moment to pop into my office and share their condolences, while also proceeding to share their own personal stories with me. Oftentimes, they became quite emotional and I found myself comforting them. I was trying to ‘put on a brave face’, or ‘hold it together’ each day. It wasn’t until I departed the train and was in my car that I could cry and let out my sadness. For at this time, that was the overwhelming emotion.

So I decided to transition to a new job. I needed a place that I could be 8+hrs a day and no one would know my story unless I told them. And I knew then, I would get to choose both the people and the details of what I shared.

So I left everything familiar to me and started about the business of meeting new work colleagues, and while in a similar business structure, I had not worked in this industry before. So, I had much to learn and occupy my thoughts.

It’s for this reason that I think, six weeks post the last death in my family, I felt that I was coping much better with life. This transition felt almost effortless in comparison to the major life transition I was experiencing.

However, I also knew that while I was coping better, I was still a complete mess.

I had always had an interest in meditation, but never really done much of it before now. However, I came across the McCulloch Grief & Bereavement Centre – a wonderfully supportive centre run through Monash in Melbourne. They were running a Grief Meditation Workshop.

That 120km round trip became a tipping point for me. Here’s why:

  1. There were 30 other participants and two instructors and the energy was gentle, supportive, almost ‘soft’

  2. Each participant was asked to go around the room and explain why they were there

  3. Despite thinking I was ‘better’, when it became my turn, I was so overcome with everyone else’s grief, and my own, that I could barely speak (a clear wake up call to myself that I was definitely not ok!)

  4. I was the ONLY participant that had lost someone (and for at this stage it was three people), within the last two years

  5. Most people had lost someone 5, 8, 10+ years ago

I resolved that night, with no negative judgement to those people seeking help after all those years, that I did not want to be feeling the way they did in 5 – 10 years. So, I determined, quite decisively, that I would do everything in my power to help myself. And I did. Mentally I felt I was able to take more control of this transition. Small steps all along the way and a couple giant leaps here and there.

The realisation for me was that yes, everyone experiences grief, but some transition through it better than others and some do not transition at all. They become quite stuck. Stagnating at anytime in any major life transition sets about a certain type of suffering that can feel like there is no relief.

So, when people come to for help with their grief recovery, not only do I have professional qualifications and tools to assist, but I have a very deep understanding of what can help propel people forward and support them to cope


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