What grief and growth have in common

Lately, when I ask friends, family and clients how they are, they answer either one of two ways; busy, or exhausted, or sometimes, both! Friends and family are experiencing a lot of change and growth this year, with many returning to study, changing jobs or careers, travelling, launching new business ventures, moving house, undertaking massive home renovations or embarking on the next step of their life adventure.

This year is a big year of exciting change and growth for my family too.   Changes are occurring in nearly all aspects of our lives, from my youngest starting school, launching and running my own business and new career (and all that entails), plus we have a few milestone birthdays to celebrate.  Oh, and my husband has just achieved a long desired promotion into a new job too – just to make sure we are kept on our toes with new stuff.

Don’t get me wrong, these are all positive changes that we have actively sought out and welcomed, in order to be stretched, to grow and learn.   We definitely are grateful for these opportunities and changes, and acknowledge how fortunate we are to be experiencing them. They are not changes imposed upon us.

All change is exhausting

I realised it’s not simply that we are all busy, although that is certainly true.   Rather, I think it’s the constant feeling of being stretched mentally, physically and emotionally.  Even when the changes are exciting and perceived as positive, it’s still tiring learning all this new stuff!

In order to grow, you first get your buttons pushed by someone or something – and that triggers your desire (or need) to change and grow.  The thing that pushes your buttons will be different for everyone.  The unifying factor is that it results in growth.  The experience of growing, facing the challenges, and overcoming them, requires a lot of energy, focus and tenacity.  Also resilience.  And these are all the same qualities that you need to be able to move through your grief.

Growth is just as exhausting as grief.

When we are doing new things and having experiences that push ourselves beyond our comfort zone it can be just as trying, tiring and challenging as those early months after a loss.  It is widely acknowledged that grief is exhausting, but I have to say, so is growth.

Change = Loss = Grief / Growth

All change involves losing something.  I wasn’t sure about this when I first read it, but over time it’s grown on me.  Any change, whether we deem it wanted or unwanted, involves loss of something.  The change may not always involve obvious grief, but it can do.

It might be that a new and longed for promotion is wanted, but it may require more hours of work, resulting in a loss of time to spend with family.  Your child heading off to school is a change and exciting for them, but can result in a feeling of loss as you mourn the days passing and your child getting older.   Or, a new house may involve moving to a new neighbourhood, resulting in the loss of community that you had in the old neighbourhood.  You feel grief for this loss, and experience growth as you actively work to develop a sense of community and connection in your new location.

Parallels between grief and growth

What I have noticed this year is that there are parallels with our life seven years ago when we were coping with the deep grief associated with a change imposed upon us; the loss of our second son.  At that time, we found each day was exhausting.  Just getting through the day was incredibly hard and used every scrap of energy.  All routines were gone, so we reached decision overload very quickly; each small decision required so much effort and focus.

Just like now, at that time we were facing challenges, doing new things and coping with significant change.

The key difference is that this time, the change is wanted, is actively pursued and as a result we feel prepared for the changes we are experiencing.  Whereas when we experience unwanted change, such as the loss of a child or the loss of a job or relationship, then the change feels like it is happening to us, and we are not prepared for it.

Yet, when it comes down to it, that is the core difference – wanted versus unwanted change.

And that’s the crux of it isn’t it?  All change is exhausting, whether the change is triggered by grief or growth.  It’s still change, and we still have to adjust, learn and cope with the changes we are experiencing.

Experiencing change and wishing for support to navigate through it?    Book a complimentary discovery session to learn more about how I can help you make the most of the change you are experiencing.