Endings can be tough at any age. Although she is only 20 months old, my granddaughter has just experienced a big ending in her life. She is no longer an only child. Her brother arrived a week ago. It’s an ending for her. And she is resisting it. I have observed a few lessons in transition this week while spending time at my daughter’s house doing what I can to support them.
Endings are tough even when you know they are coming. This new baby was talked up in the family before he arrived. There were books, stories, visits to the midwife, discussions about having a baby in the house and many other steps taken to prepare everyone for this big change in the family. Even the best change management plan doesn’t mean the ending will be easy. If you are happy with the way things are in your life or work, it doesn’t matter how much you are told about the change, endings will be tough. Let’s just acknowledge what is happening - it sucks, it hurts, it is painful.
Endings can be positive or negative and probably a blend of both. We avoid discussing the negative impact of change. When we know something is going to change, or have initiated a change, we often focus on the upside of what is happening. We talk about how wonderful it will be to have this new ‘bundle of joy’ in the house. We don’t really talk about the fact that mommy may not be as available as you have previously enjoyed. Babies poop and throw up and cry a lot. And mommy is going to be tired. So is daddy. So are you. “Hey two year old, your new sibling is coming and things are going to change and it is going to be better and worse from your perspective.”
Everyone experiences an ending differently. Grandma loves having a new baby around but Grandma isn’t up all night and sleep deprived and having to deal with a 2 year old ‘acting out’ all day. Mommy loves having a new baby and seeing some tender moments with her daughter and the new baby. She also is struggling with adjusting to figuring out the new rhythms of life.
The point is everyone is in a different place, has different needs and wants, and is experiencing a change from a different perspective. We need patience with each other.
We need to end well to move on. And it takes time. We can think we are in transition but we are really still ending of something. You need to let go. And to let go well, you need to acknowledge the loss in the situation. I have created a worksheet to help you reflect on endings. This worksheet is simply to get you thinking and processing the loss that you have experienced from the areas of preparation and the positive and negative impact of the change. In my experience, when we take time to really understand the impact of an ending, it can help us move forward into transition. You can download the worksheet here.
What people resist is not change per se, but loss.
—Ronald A. Heifetz