Truth Byte #23

Truth Byte #23

The end is coming. 

But we don’t really like endings.  

I remember being ten years old and getting hooked on a novel series called Sweet Valley High.  Every book stood alone, and the characters were consistent and predictable.

They didn’t really evolve much.  

Each book was about something fascinating happening in the lives of these twin sisters who were nothing alike.  I remember that sinking feeling every time I was close to the final chapter and then the final page of a book.  I just didn’t want it to end.  And lucky for me, it didn’t really have to end because the very next Friday, the Book Mobile (a kids library crammed inside an old white van with a sweet-faced old lady sitting in the driver’s seat) would be back across the street from my elementary school and I could stock up on another batch of adventures.  

Life is kind of like that.

We have these mis-steps and pitfalls and successes and triumphs, and there is a part of us that doesn’t really want to face the end of anything.  Or when we do face the end, it is often framed in terms of beginning of something new.  

The end of high school? That’s okay, it’s the beginning of young adult life.  

The end of single life? That’s okay, it’s the beginning of a committed relationship.  

The end of a committed relationship? That’s okay, it’s the beginning of finding yourself again.  

The end of being a “needed” parent, having a job, your youth, living in a particular home, that’s okay, it’s just the beginning of something else.  And you can see how we spin the endings so we don’t have to feel the loss.

But when we don’t take time to really end, we leave a lot unfinished.

So here’s how you can start to actually honour the endings in your life, instead of rushing on to the next beginning.

  1. Reflect back.

Leonie Dawson has this incredible series of workbooks.  She leads you through planning out the year (pre-orders start July 20-27 in case you want one for really crazy cheap!) and the thing she does that I haven’t seen anywhere else is she forces her people to reflect on the end of the last year or last month or last week.  What went well? What didn’t? What did you love and learn? What should you probably never do again? When we take the time to reflect back at the end of a period of time, we can actually start to evolve.  That way, we are not the same people in book 15 as we were in book 2 of our lives.  Looking back helps you to actually learn and grow.

  1. Commit to completion

When we don’ acknowledge the end, we are left feeling frazzled and it’s hard to really start the next phase with that solid feeling.  We just jump to the next thing.  This used to happen a lot with a particular friend of mine and music.  We would get in the car and she would tell me about this great song she wanted me to hear.  We would listen to the first minute or two of the song, and then she would pop over to another song.  This would go on for an entire 45 minute car ride.  I always left those drives feeling unsatisfied…I never got to complete any song and I had a bunch of catchy opening bars in my head for the rest of the day, but couldn’t really decide if I like those songs or not because I hadn’t really heard them.

When you commit to completion, you take the project, idea, relationship, etc. right to the end point, and then thoughtfully let it go.  You don’t walk away in the middle.

  1. No regrets.

Easy to say, tough to do.  When you actually admit to yourself that something in your life is ending, and take some time to feel the mixed bag that comes with closure, there isn’t really room for regret.  Regret is when we wish we said or did something different.  When my cousin died beside me at age 22 in a car accident, I had no regrets.  Because I knew she knew how much I loved her…I told her several times each day, and especially on that evening when she was so bursting over with life and laughter.  I knew she knew how much I respected her.  I knew she knew what an impact she had on my life.  And so I didn’t have that feeling of “I wish I had told her….” that I have experienced with the death of other family members and friends in my life who died slowly from illness.  When we have the luxury of seeing the ending is on it’s way, this is a chance to be brave and go through the grief as it comes.  Not feeling might make you sick, and regret is a smelly monkey to have hanging on your back.

  1. Don’t do it alone.

It is tempting to isolate yourself when you are going through an ending.  And it’s true, no one can do it for you.  But remember that we are social creatures.  When tragedy strikes, we have a natural impulse to come together.  Whether it’s something intense or something minor, reaching out to people you trust will help you come to closure more quickly.  It’s a reminder that even though this part of your life is over, there are people that will love to through the transition and into the next phase.

Are you ready for closure?  Then don’t just nod your head, do something about it.

Dr. Saira Sabzaali

Dr. Saira Sabzaali

Dr. Saira (she/her) provides mental health support through individual counselling, groups, immersive workshops/courses, and free educational content. Over the last 14 years, we have helped men and women of many backgrounds find answers to their questions about work, life, love, and meaning. Much mainstream psychology overlooks spirituality, family values, and community context, so we have decided to specialize in serving clients who are ready for change and also want to include their cultural values and spiritual beliefs into therapy.

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