Life’s most difficult experiences, perhaps, have to do with endings. Whether happy or sad, tragic or comic, foreseen or blindsiding, many endings somehow leave an aftertaste, if ever so slight, of loss.
However beautiful and ideal the wedding and warm the glow of memories made on the occasion, somewhere in the settling of feelings stirs a sense of sadness. The birth of a first child leaves a young mother realizing she is no longer a little girl, but — good grief! — a Mom. Trading in that first set of wheels feels like the end of something, despite the new set of keys in hand. Many graduates, when asked after the ceremony how they are feeling, reply, “Kinda sad, actually; and a little afraid.” And closing an office door for the last time, despite one’s sense of a successful career, creates a lingering echo of youth and energy.
Endings, even when predictable and necessary, move a person into the land of betwixt and between where one’s life seems all about letting go and grabbing on; about knowing what was while wondering what will be, staring at the past and squinting at the future. A momentary experience for some, others somehow get stuck.
For them it is important to realize endings are rarely, if ever, just about ending; they are also about beginning. They are part of the process called life. Somewhere in the experience of ending is the challenge to move on and into what is yet to be, using all that has been given along the way. To do so one has to embrace the meanings of the past while recognizing the challenges ahead and make the most of the moment, even when that moment may be all about feeling stuck.
All endings are transitions. To get unstuck one has to answer Peggy Lee’s haunting song, “Is That All There Is?” with “No way! Can’t be!” and move on and into whatever is next. There is energy in every ending which those who are stuck need to recognize and tap into.
There is no quick and easy way to deal with being stuck. The best way, I have found, is to put words to one’s feelings — literally. A really close friend can be a priceless gift at such times, not because of having any answers but just by being present and listening. Journaling one’s feelings also helps, both at the time of writing and especially with later readings and 20-20 hindsight.
Language is a creating force that can help anyone work through the endings that come along in life. There is something oddly simple about “talking oneself out of” and “talking oneself into.”
Endings are a fact of every life. It might help to know that without them beginnings might never happen.