Saturday, March 22, 2008

Life Transitions - Challenges that Test the Soul

In the last blog, I looked at the definitions for Loss, Grief, Bereavement and Mourning. This time I'll look at the concept of Transitions since this blog is dedicated to "your times of transition."

What is a Transition?
Transition is a…

Passage from one state or stage to another;
especially: an abrupt change…usually accompanied by loss…

Transitions in life can result from many different events. Some may be happy occasions such as births, marriages, new job or home or career promotions.

More often than not transitions are sad occasions like the end of a relationship, career, experiencing a traumatic event, child leaving home, loss of a loved one, being diagnosed with a life-threatening or terminal illness, or the ultimate transition-death.

Many of these "passages from one state to another," especially the challenging ones, are accompanied by a loss, by sorrow and by a grief response. These are the tough transitions, the ones that define a person.

Transitions - Life Defining Moments
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "The ultimate measure of a [person] is not where s/he stands in moments of comfort, but where s/he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

Frequently, these times of transition become a person's major life-defining moments—moments after which a life is forever changed. Elizabeth Harper Neeld writes, "Tough transitions are time we have lived that will remain part of who we are forever. The very person we are has been changed by these experiences." They are often some of the most significant times in our lives. (2)

Transitions - Times that Test the Soul
John M. Schneider writes,

When we are grieving, we often believe that no one else has ever suffered as much. Feeling utterly alone in the agony we experience and in our struggle to keep going, no words of solace can comfort unless they come from one who has walked our path. When such words come, we can begin to discover just how universal the process of grief is.

Eventually, we discover that humans have grieved throughout history and that grief's wisdom transformed people long before we came along. (3)

No mater what your source of loss or grief, whether you have experienced it personally as a patient, a parent or family member or professionally as a health care provider, these times of transition are often the moments that define a life. Schneider also writes that these moments are "the times that test the soul. Facing loss and experiencing grief can result in profound transformation." (4)

Journey of Hearts - A Place to Share the Sorrow
I have believed for years, it is in the sharing of our losses that our own heart begins to heal. The Journey of Hearts website and the Grief, Loss & Transitions Blog are here to remind visitors that we are not alone in our losses or our feelings of grief, that someone else will have experienced similar losses (or worse) and survived.

Slowly as you begin to recognizes that others have lived through loss and survived then you too will begin to realize that can survive your own loss and live through this life transition.

Coping with Transitions by Sharing the Sorrow

According to a Swedish proverb,
"Shared joy is doubled joy. Shared sorrow is half sorrow."
By sharing we can half the sorrow and feel less alone with the intense feelings of loss or grief that accompany difficult transitions. Therefore, we invite you to half the sorrows by sharing your what worked for you when faced with one of life's difficult "transitions."

Sharing the losses and supporting one another during these challenging times of transition helps the heart grow stronger and more able to cope with life's challenges and helps us to feel less alone in our grief. (5)

Some of my own greatest challenges, the times that tested my soul, I have written about and shared in the NICU Parent Support Blog, most recently reliving our Easter NICU experiences.

More on Grief, Loss & Transitions:
Dyer KA. Loss, Grief, Bereavement and Mourning Defining the Terms
. Grief, Loss & Transitions Blog.
Dyer KA. Journey of Hearts - A Source for Grief, Loss & Transitions
. Grief, Loss & Transitions Blog.

Our Easter NICU Experiences:
Dyer KA.
An Easter Healing Blessing in the Intensive Care Nursery. NICU Parent Support Blog.
Dyer KA. Creating a Circle of Healing and Support
. NICU Parent Support Blog.
Dyer KA. An Easter Wish for NICU Parents. Type A Mom Website.

1. Definition of Transitions. Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary, © 2002 Merriam-Webster, Inc.
2. Neeld, EH. 2005. Tough Transitions: Navigating Your Way Through Difficult Times. New York, New York: Warner Books, p.223.

3. Schneider JM. (ed) 2000. Grief's Wisdom: Quotes for Understanding the Transformative Process. Traverse City, Michigan: Seasons Press.
4. Schneider JM. Transforming Consciousness While Embracing Change and Experiencing Grief. John M. Schneider, Ph.D.
5. Dyer KA. 2002. Welcome to A Healing Place. Journey of Hearts.