The sage chooses that and lets go of this. –Tao Te Ching
Last night I was so sad. What perplexed me is that I was sad about something that I’m also very happy about. My last two still-at-home kids, one of them with a child of her own, are moving out in a few weeks. After managing to get all five kids to some level of adulthood, having an empty nest is something I’ve been looking forward to. Don’t get me wrong. I love all my kids, and they are great kids, but I’m ready to make the transition to the next stage of my life, which, in my fantasy at least, involves having my house to myself.
Or does it? My one year old grandson toddled into my room to see me yesterday, all grins, eager to babble at me about something amazing. My daughter cooked a delicious dinner. My other daughter sat down and watched a movie with me. These are things I will miss when they move out.
I tell myself that they are only going to be five minutes away, but we all know that things will be different, very different. And that, I think, is what I’m grieving. The loss of things the way they are. The loss of what I love about the way things are. Change.
Even when faced with a change we ourselves have sought out and instigated, there is loss that sometimes makes us sad. When I was approaching retirement last year, a choice that I voluntarily and enthusiastically made, I was sad. I was leaving a job I had loved for twenty years, friends who were my daily companions, an identity I was enriched by and proud of. I have never regretted my decision, and retirement has been glorious, but the choice I made meant leaving something behind, letting go of things that mattered to me.
And so it is now. I have not lived without children in my home for over twenty-five years. The daily rhythm of my life has included my children for a quarter of a century. And while I’m not worried about what I will do – indeed, retired life has been so busy, I’m not sure how I ever found time to have a job – there will be an emptiness in the spot they now occupy.
I am ready for this change, and I do want it. All the things I’m looking forward to fill me with curiosity and anticipation. My daughters are excited, too. And we’re all glad that we won’t be far away from each other. We can hold our sadness, and maybe a bit of nervousness, in the same arms that embrace our joy and celebration of this major life transition.
Grieving over change, even desired change, is a part of releasing the familiarity and blessings of what we are leaving behind. Acknowledging our feelings helps us move forward in freedom, welcoming a new day.
Have you ever found yourself sad about a change that you chose for yourself and eagerly looked forward to?
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About the Author: Galen Pearl’s stories have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul and A Cup of Comfort anthologies, and her popular blog, 10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place (and Staying There), attracts thousands of readers every month. Recently retired from teaching law, she regularly leads retreats and workshops on developing habits to grow a joyful spirit. A Southern girl transplanted to the Pacific Northwest, she enjoys her five kids and two grandchildren, martial arts, her cabin in the mountains, and mahjong.