I remember listening to a podcast with Brené Brown as the speaker and though I don’t remember what the subject was, I do remember when she said, “Change is a series of small deaths.” Man-oh-man, she always nails it on the head, right??
Death is often considered something to avoid, especially in Western culture, but there is so much beauty in death. There is also necessity. When the seasons change, plants and trees die, only to come back bigger and stronger the following year. When fire, wind, water, or the rumbling earth destroys parts of our planet, rebirth is inevitable. When humans die, we are buried and we feed the soil that supports life (unless you get embalmed, which I don’t understand). Even when we evolve into different and wiser versions of ourselves, our old selves die.
Nothing new can grow unless there is space for it to root. For this to happen, something must die.
When my parents divorced, a part of me died that didn’t belong in that dynamic anymore and a new version of myself had to come forth and adjust to a new dynamic. When my brother passed when I was seventeen, another part of me died and a new reality set in. When I met my now ex-husband and fell in love, the single me let go and made space for another person where there hadn’t been a space before. When we created a child, the versions of ourselves that we knew had to die so that we could be the best parents we needed to be for her. When I realized my marriage wasn’t working anymore, I had to allow it to die so that space could be made to grow a new life.
Each change above resulted in a mourning of some sort. I mourned the safety of the only family I’d known. I mourned the life of a brother and a version of myself that was innocent to the roller coaster of death. I mourned a life of freedom even as I welcomed a partner and child that filled my heart daily with love. I mourned an entire life and a version of myself that was built over a twenty-year period, trusting that the new version would be happier.
None of it was easy. Most of it was inevitable. All of it made me the person I am today.
For this, I am grateful.
There are most certainly folks that go through awful things and never recover. You know what I’m talking about because you see them too. But when I hear those of us that do recover talk about our series of small deaths, I always wait for the conclusion because the stories always include beauty in the end, and it’s usually a profound and extraordinary beauty.
It’s not only OK to mourn the outdated version of who you used to be, it’s necessary because how can you truly move into the new until you honor the old? Being grateful for what once was, then allowing the bittersweetness of change to set in is one of life’s most treasured experiences.
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If you’re ready to take on some small deaths, reach out. I can help with that.