The Art of Ending – Growing Through Loss

“Great is the art of the beginning, but greater is the art of ending. —HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW”

I still don’t know what was it that broke our friendship down. Was it the differences between our opinions or the similarities between our emotions? At times we face inevitable losses. People die, friends move, divorce happens, and relationships get cut off. We are both victims of each other’s choices (or are we survivors?) and creators of painful changes. A certainty of life is that life will be uncertain. We do not control its changes.

Even desired change is hard. It is like we are bleeding everywhere and no one sees it. Loss is painful. So how do we end things – weather we have chosen it or it has chosen us? When things end, can they end well? Is that even possible? How do we heal in the middle of a difficult season? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Don’t take yourself very seriously. Realize that emotions come and go. What is important today may not feel so important tomorrow.
  2. Do a few rituals. Somehow celebrate or mark the loss. We have rituals for positive changes (wedding reception, graduation party, etc). We rarely celebrate what we see as a negative change. No one sends cards when people get divorced for instance. Create your own ritual.
  3. Add laughter in your life. Go to a comedy club or read a jokes book.
  4. Take Job’s advice…. Accept good and trouble from God (Job 2: 10). Accept that change is part of life. Embrace it. Longfellow knew this as well when he wrote his Rainy day poem

    “Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;

    Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;

    Thy fate is the common fate of all,

    Into each life some rain must fall,”
  5. Surround yourself with healthy and supportive friends or family. This is likely the best strategy. Loving people heal us.
  6. Write or journal about what the person or situation brought you before the loss. Try to think of positives before the loss. Practice gratefulness.
  7. Do not block your painful emotions. Recognize that anger, pain, fear, sorrow, and sadness are natural emotions when we confront loss. Feel these emotions as they come, then let them go. Rumi states “you have to keep breaking your heart until it opens”. This is so true about emotions. Until we feel them, we cannot feel free of them.
  8. Observe your feelings and thoughts, non judgmentally. Practice self compassion and don’t speed the process.
  9. Evaluate what is working in your life and set goals to address how you will improve your life. Grief and loss can leave a hole in our hearts, schedules and structures. Healing means adapting to a new reality. Some will require practical changes.
  10. Move your body. Get rid of the bad hormones. Yoga, running, walking, jumping can help. Feel the relief it gives you.

Finally, remember that healing takes time yet it is possible. Healing does not mean we forget our loss. It means that we move differently in life. We stop bleeding. We now live life with a healed scar. Scars are reminders that we survived something difficult. Scars are beautiful.

Sabrina Bowen, MS, LCMFT, provides individual, couple, and family therapy in our downtown Bethesda office and virtually to those located in the state of Maryland. Call or email today to set up your first appointment or a complimentary consultation with Sabrina!