A few years ago, I began an intentional journey of emotional healing. Partly by choice, but mostly of necessity.

That process began right around the time of getting married. Before “settling down,” I lived a champagne-in-the-veins kind of life…going from one place to the next. One job to the next. One adventure to the next.

What I’ve recently come to recognize is that by living in constant transition, there also comes loss. With those losses, there should have come some grieving but instead, I buried sadness with the next project or adventure.

This method was good for productivity, just not so helpful for emotional health.

Grieving Reality Shifts

Sorrow that comes from reality shifts came bubbling to the surface when recently, one of my closest friends moved away. Living in transient Hawaii, this happens often. Friends move- new ones come. However, the feelings were some what overwhelming. I had to assume there was a deeper root.

Somewhere between reading “How People Grow” and trying out contemplative reflection, it came to me…

 Grief isn’t just something we endure only in the event of someone passing away, but from a shifting of our current reality. 

Once I realized these pangs of sadness were deriving from the conclusion of great seasons of life, I wasn’t sure what to do. So I wrote it out all that I missed:

I deeply missed my little yellow home in Colorado, with it’s garden, fire pit, and gigantic kitchen. I grieved the beauty, accessability, and nostalgia of living in the Big Apple; a city I dreamed to live in throughout my teens. And naturally (let’s be honest), my singleness. I was no longer able to simply move to the places I longed for or make any rash life decision without affecting my spouse. Big changes meant losing something…

I just had no idea change meant feeling the pain of loss

I suspect that this process took me so long to recognize primarily because I perceived feeling sorrow over beautiful seasons past devalued them somehow. But like the movie Inside Out illustrates, each one of our feelings matter. Melancholy is just as important as joy.

Moving from Grief to Gratitude

After reflecting on all that I missed, what followed was all that brought joy in my present reality. Funnily enough, this list was longer.

Goes to show how imperative it is to practice being present.

Then, it’s never been easy for me to meditate, sit still for any given period of time, or carefully listen without being distracted. But after realizing how deeply I missed these people and places from my past, I’ve tried to be more present- not taking the passing moments for granted. (Try is the keyword here. It’s a work in progress.)

Lessons from Grieving

It’s difficult to exactly measure how this processing improved my emotional health, but I’m happy to report that giving recognition to these feelings has done a few neat things:

  • It’s freed my creative spirit, which is probably why I’m writing so much and finally have the gumption to go full time into my business again
  • It seems to have deepened my appreciation of each moment spent with people I love. (Though this isn’t easy to measure, the effort is certainly there)
  • Acknowledging grief has drastically improved hope in a joy-filled reality

In Summary

Sorrow is bound to follow the conclusion of certain seasons of life, but by creating space and permission to reflect on those moments with honest emotion, no matter how ugly, helps grow our character and hold our “present” as the gift that it is.