Sacred transitions: Joy & sorrow

Journey through the Transitions

Navigating the journey through the transitions in life can be challenging. Sometimes in life we have to wait, and if you are like me, this can be hard because it means practicing patience.  Perhaps you are eager to get out of a current state of grief, loss or boredom; perhaps you are anticipating a life change…a marriage, new career or home.  Wherever you find yourself, knowing and accepting that you are exactly where you are supposed to be and not rushing through the transition can be difficult.  So take a breath and pray for clarity on exactly what this season of your life is bringing to you.

Journey through the Transitions: Walking in the Moment

Transitions come in many forms, some hopeful and others despondent. If you find yourself in a painful situation or anxious with anticipation, it is understandable that you might want this time in your life to be over.  While pain often has us looking back at what was lost, and anticipation speeds us into a future that has not happened yet, both are similar because we are not present to what is happening in our lives in the moment.  Each of these transitional periods can give us opportunities to reflect and grow in wisdom and strength.  I invite you to consider the following questions in light of your current situation:  What troubles me the most about this time in my life ? What am I supposed to learn from this?  Where is God in this situation?

My Transition through Grief

This week I invite you to journey with me through the transitions of a great loss in my life. When my grandmother died, I was devastated and lost.  I couldn’t catch my breath, it felt like a freight train had driven through my heart. I got caught in a cycle of desperately missing her and crying every day over my loss and the moments we would never share again.  Being sad and grieving the loss of someone is, of course, natural and part of the grieving process, but I can look back and see how stuck I became by focusing on what I had lost and not working through my emotions.  I just wanted to hear her voice one more time; to have her scratch my back and reassure me that everything would be alright.  In life there are things that are beyond our control; things that we cannot understand or change.  The only thing that I could change was my reaction to the situation, and I was not willing to do that at the time.  I was sad, felt abandoned and everyone was going to know it.  Then one night I had a dream.  In my dream my grandmother was walking away from me, and I was desperately trying to catch up to her.  She was walking hand in hand with someone.  Suddenly, they both stopped and looked back at me.  They were smiling as they turned my way.  I realized the person holding my grandmother’s hand was my grandfather that had died 15 years earlier.  The look on their faces was serene and joyous.  The abundance of happiness that radiated from them was contagious, and I felt wrapped in their love.

At first I awoke sad that I never caught up to my grandmother, but then I realized two things.  First, my grandmother did not want me to be sad for her, she was happy.  She was free from the pain that had engulfed the last few years of her life, and I needed to find some consolation in that fact.  It reminded me of the many talks she and I had about how dearly she missed her late husband.  I had been so caught up in what I had lost, that I failed to remember the emotional and physical pain that she had endured in her final years.  I had forgotten her truly happy and joyous smile that had faded so many years years before her death.  I was allowed to look at the situation through different lenses and refocus on the importance of seeing all angles of a situation… not just mine.

Secondly,  I was reminded that I had survived the loss of my grandfather, and it gave me the hope that I would be able to survive the loss of my grandmother too.  So many years had passed since my grandfather had died, and now I was given the perspective of time.  I could remember how devastating that loss had been, but how time had allowed me to heal and remember him with fondness and without the heart stabbing pain of grief. This perspective wasn’t instantaneously comforting, but it started me down the path with reassurance that I had survived going through the transitions of grief and loss before.

I still miss my grandmother; still wish I could hear her voice; still crave the coconut cream pie that tastes like home.  Every once in a while, I get a glimpse of someone who reminds me of her or a whiff of something that smells like her.  For an instant, my heart jumps and I look for her.  Then I realize that it is the precious gift of remembering.  Sometimes I shed a tear, but usually with a smile of my face at the lovely flood of memories that accompany the experience.  Today, I am able to remember her with gratitude.

My insights may not be the same as yours, but I invite you to ponder the questions that I offered to you earlier.  Below, I offer my own responses which are unique to my lived experiences.  None of our journeys are exactly the same, but I encourage you to look for the similarities.

What troubled me most?

As I walked through the transitions that grief brought into my life, what most troubled me was that I wasn’t in control.  Death happened regardless of what I wanted and it was permanent. I didn’t get to say my final goodbyes.  I couldn’t stop the never ending flood of memories.  I would never be able to call her up and ask her advice on the tough situations in my life.  I wouldn’t ever be able to share my joys and triumphs with her.  But through prayer, I have found that I can share these things with her.  I can open my heart and offer them to the universe, and I believe that my grandmother is there to receive my news – joyous and sorrowful – with open arms.

What have I learned?

Life is unpredictable, and I do not have the ability to control many things, but I can develop composure over my reactions.  The power of memories can pull me into despair if I allow them, or they can lift me up in gratitude with all the joy and wisdom that someone brought into my life. Time is precious, and being present to the people you cherish is paramount.  I have learned that I would not be lost in grief if I had not loved a person intensely.  I think this is VERY important to consider. In order to avoid grief, that means that I would have to stop loving and caring for people deeply.  That is not the way I want to live.

Where was God in this?

Everywhere!  He was in the darkness with me as I cried, but I was too stubborn and self-absorbed to reach out for comfort.  I thought I was abandoned and alone, but that was not true.  The Spirit brings me the the familiar faces and smells that remind me of my loved ones, but I have to be open to receive them as gifts. I have to let go of the idea that things are being done TO me, and allow for the possibility that things – good and bad – happen in life that are unexpected.  I need to devote time to prayer and meditation to continually grow on my spiritual journey towards the sacred… and remember that I do not walk alone.

Journey through Expectations

Next week, I will explore being in the state of anticipation and journeying with patience through the transitions. If you would like to receive my quarterly newsletter and be the first to know about new spiritual resources, then click here to Join the Journey.

Thanks for joining me on the journey…

Posted by Still Sacred

1 comment

[…] week I continue with the theme of navigating through life’s transitions.  I invite you to consider a situation of anticipation, something you are eager to have happen in […]

Leave a Reply