\ Good Grief, Now What? | Christina Brandt

Good Grief, Now What?

I’ve spent a lot of time talking to both clients and friends about grief.  If you were to ask them for one word to sum up our chats, I doubt they’d use that one, but it’s truly the best way to describe the process they’re going through.

Grief is a funny thing.  (Funny “strange,” not funny “ha ha.”)  We assume that it comes after the death of a loved one which, of course, it does.  We might allow ourselves to mourn the passing of an era, such as the transition that occurs when kids go off to college, or maybe even the day we realize we’ll never fit into those jeans from when we were in college, but that’s about it.

I believe that grief covers much broader territory.  Here’s a peek at what went on during my recent conversations (with names and some details changed to keep things confidential):

  • Jane is close to her goal of relocating internationally, something she’s worked on for over a year now.  Suddenly, she’s afraid to go.  What if she doesn’t like it there, comes back, and can’t find work or a place to live?
  • Susan lost her husband and after cooking for just one person, having no one to come home to, and figuring out the logistics of life alone, she’s wondering why she made the decision not to live closer to family and friends down South.  Should she abandon her now-thriving business and move?
  • Alison made a daring career move and is now wondering if she should have stuck with her same-old, day in/day out job that was sucking the life out of her.
  • Mary is looking at new job opportunities, and is feeling paralyzed with indecision about her next step, despite knowing very clearly what type of work she does not want (the flip side of what she does want).
  • Ellen, the bariatric surgery survivor, never thought about a life without comfort food in big portions.
  • Nancy wonders why family and friends can’t keep up with her as she moves towards her right life.

Each of these women is grieving the loss of a piece of her former life.  As they move towards creating new lives for themselves, they experience what Martha Beck, author of Finding Your Own North Star, calls “change-back attacks.”  Basically, a change-back attack occurs when either people or situations arise to make you wonder if you’re nuts for making changes in your life.  They’re the ultimate test, making you question the soundness of your decision-making, and they usually occur far enough along in the change process that “the devil you knew” starts to look awfully good.  The closer you get to your right life, the more tests in the form of issues, problems, grouchy loved ones, etc. will show up.

I’m certainly not exempt from bouts of uncertainty and looking for signs that I should have stayed in Corporate America.  When I wasn’t sure I had what it takes to be an entrepreneur, a wise friend said “don’t quit before the miracle.”  I didn’t, and now, when those lingering doubts and change-back attacks occur, I take a deep breath, remind myself that I’m being tested, and usually either a new client or a check arrives at my door within 48 hours.

Change-back attacks are what separate the women from the girls (to paraphrase an oft-used expression about men and boys).  When they start to occur, many people give up.  If you’re facing change-back attacks in your own life, congratulations!  It means you’re on the way to something truly delicious.

Recognizing a change-back attack, honoring where you’ve been, mourning the loss of a part of your life that no longer suits you, and then bravely moving forward will bring you ever closer to the live you were meant to live.

One Comment

  1. Delpha Forro says:

    Just bookmarked your site, thanks for sharing!

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