The Seven Stones Blog

Sufficient Transitions: Mourning (Part 2 of 7)

By Shea Adelson

Consciously moving through a transition is an act of Sufficiency. If we flow through our change – accept the end, the murky gap, and the beginning of what is new – if we allow the change and all our feelings about it, if we do not resist, but honor what occurs as our unique process and response, then we are in Sufficiency. It’s easy to want to turn back and scramble for status quo – to what life was like before the change occurred. This often happens in the beginning of a transition and early parts of the neutral zone where we are disengaged from our life before the change and when we become uncertain of the future and of the outcome of the change. Becoming disidentified with our former life is quite disorientating. I can feel this now, the yearning to have another baby because I feel sad, and a little lost, that my first child is going to school and needs me less. There is a literal gap for me, and I want to fill it. To fix it. When we choose to flow, accept and to dream, rather than fix, we are in Sufficiency. Plus, having another baby from Sufficiency sounds better than having one from Scarcity, doesn’t it?!

Which brings me to mourning. Mourning is quite uncomfortable, as you may well know, and traveling the road of transition includes mourning. Mourning is the action of letting go, the active rewiring in our brain and of our habits. I assert that mourning, like any part of the transition process, is an act of sufficiency.

What are you having to let go of right now?

The stages and sensations of mourning are rather parallel to the stages of transition and include denial/isolation, anger/bargaining, depression/sadness/pain, and acceptance, and we will likely experience periods of disorientation/confusion, disidentification, and disloyalty.

Where are you feeling about the loss?

Mourning’s function is to make room for something new to arise. It makes space for discovery, creativity, learning, integration, adventures of the heart … and more.
Mourning helps us make sense of our loss, to make meaning of our loss and of what the transition calls us to experience. To do this, we investigate and unpack our associations with the person, place or thing that we are letting go of and let go of those too.

What are the hopes, fears dreams and beliefs that were connected with that loss?

I know myself to be someone who stalls at good-byes, whether I’m on the phone with a local friend or saying farewell to a long distance dear one I see once a year. I cope with my distress for letting go in two ways: I resist by making plans and multi-tasking or I rush to get through it as quickly as possible by talking fast and furious. Then after the person is gone or off the line, I feel as if I missed the chance to have experienced something heartfelt and meaningful with her.

Even in such a small moment as this, I am mourning the relationship ending. All my past experiences of good-byes, my yearning for closeness and connection and my ambivalence about how to have it and keep it (hoarding is a Weapon of Scarcity btw) come up in this short exchange. And I need to let them all go.

Sufficiency tells us to flow, to accept, to receive, to be present and to allow and to trust and honor ourselves and our truths. It guides us into community with others who love and understand us and our experience, and from where we can draw nourishment from. Last week for the first time I had a magical send-off with my best friend who lives far away and who I now see only once a year. I was able to stay present to my feelings, the grief of her departure as well as the joy to getting back to my routine. I cried and I loved and I let her go when it was time. I felt complete, without any regrets. This was a first for me and a gift of Sufficiency.

How do you say good-bye?
How do you nurture yourself when you are faced with letting go?

Because letting go – or mourning – is hard for most of us, we may avoid it and keep making changes in our life to interrupt the transition process. We do this is big (e.g. having another baby when pre-school starts) and little ways (e.g. talking too much and too fast at a good-bye).  If we thought of transition like a person, we would see that we are sending this “person” who bears an important message for us, away. In The Guest House, Rumi declares: “Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they are a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture… [this ‘unexpected visitor’] may be clearing you out for some new delight.”  And, either way, Sufficiency rests in the assertion that “your guest” will return, and return again, until you get the message.

What are you making room for? What do you imagine will arise from your letting go?
What do you need to unlearn to allow that new thing to come forth, if anything?

Note: Mourning is distinct from grieving, though they are linked of course. Grieving has a more feeling-based association, the sadness and depression that comes with loss; the root word is ‘heavy’, like an emotion. Whereas mourning’s root is ‘remembering’ and deals more with the way the mind works on the broken connection. It is the process, the rewiring, of how we associate to ourselves and the person, place or thing we’ve lost. Mourning undoubtedly includes grieving, sadness, upset, tears, for many of us.

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