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There he was. Still on the hospital bed. Lifeless.
There was no way for a teenager to process what had just happened. But along with sadness came an odd sense of relief, too.
Something hadn’t sunk in just yet. But it was about to.
This is Life Transitions. Welcome to day 14.
Life Transitions Series
Life Transitions, Day 1 (Introduction)
Life Transitions, Day 2: Resistance
Life Transitions, Day 3: Jobs & Careers
Life Transitions, Day 4: Location
Life Transitions, Day 5: Relationships
Life Transitions, Day 6: When the Sandcastle Crumbles
Life Transitions, Day 7: Recovery
Life Transitions, Day 8: Pivots
Life Transitions, Day 9: Injury
Life Transitions, Day 10: Illness
Life Transitions, Day 11: Disaster
Life Transitions, Day 12: Upheaval
Life Transitions, Day 13: Age
Expiry Related Life Transitions
In this instance, expiry means death.
And death-related transitions occur when someone you know – typically a loved one – passes.
The “ultimate” transition is when you expire. And while I will give that some space a little later, it’s clearly a different kind of transition. One where “life” is no longer. Thus, it’s not a life transition at all.
An expiry related life transitions occurs when someone you know passes.
When your pet, friend, family member, or loved one expires, it’s normal to go through a range of reactions and emotions – shock, grief, numbness, sadness, anger, and more.
I don’t think there is a right or wrong in terms of how you react to, or how you process, death. Only, I do feel it’s important to feel whatever you’re feeling to the fullest without trying to numb and medicate it (more on that later).
Generally, in western cultures, when someone expires, we mourn. But in eastern cultures, it’s not unusual to celebrate.
Both are entirely valid ways of honoring a person or pet you dearly loved.
Although I’ve addressed this issue in an earlier story, some even say “I will never get over this.”
Death can be challenging to fathom. Maybe even impossible. Because it challenges the very thing we are – which is alive.
How to Handle Expiry Related Life Transitions
They say there are five stages of grief (which are 1) denial and isolation, 2) anger, 3) bargaining 4) depression, 5) acceptance), which can play out in any order, and move between one another.
Some say there are additional stages to grief. Some even say it’s a lifelong process.
Gaining an understanding of the various emotions you’re feeling as you’re feeling them is the most important part. Getting caught up in stages, or the “process” as it’s supposed to unfold, so far as I’m concerned, is less important.
And let’s be honest – grief doesn’t just rear its head when someone you know has passed. Sometimes, you can grieve over other events too, be it a breakup or the loss of a job.
What I find most useful is to sit with your emotions, allow them to play out, and to make it okay that you’re feeling whatever you’re feeling.
I have lost several friends and family members through the years – one of the most notable being my father.
And I know, all too well, the impact this had on my family. I felt it important to move forward, and though it was difficult, I began to find the strength to walk through a deep, dark valley of emotions to get to the other side.
But some of us never do. Because it’s too difficult. Too painful. And we don’t want to be reminded or to acknowledge what happened.
I don’t have easy answers. All I have are some thoughts.
If anyone has ever said to you “don’t cry”, or “be strong”, then they are robbing you of an important opportunity to grieve and to mourn fully.
What happens when you don’t mourn in the moment?
The energy gets stored in your body. And then it’s liable to arise in the least expected moments.
This isn’t to suggest you should force yourself to cry if you can’t cry. Don’t try to feel something if you’re feeling numb. There’s nothing wrong with you if you don’t react the same way others react.
So, the only thing to do is feel whatever it is you’re feeling fully. Instead of running from it, acknowledge it, and love it.
Because whatever you’re feeling can’t be found anywhere else. It can only be found in you. It’s not someone else’s to deal with. It’s your own.
Identify What You Have Yet to Process
Think about all the “I wish I would have said…” thoughts running around in your mind.
First, recognize that it’s not too late to express these thoughts. Because these thoughts are your own. They are not with the deceased. Which means there is always an opportunity to express yourself and to become complete with whatever happened.
For instance, you can write a letter. By doing so, you can process all your feelings and emotions, and say all the things you wished you would have said when your loved one was still alive.
I have done this exercise myself.
You can also imagine the loved one in your mind and see yourself talking to them. Sharing all the things that have been on your mind. All the things you wish you would have said.
You can’t find completion with anyone else. You can only create it for yourself. And it’s possible to do intentionally.
The Ultimate Transition
The ultimate transition is when each of us move on from this world to… whatever lies beyond death.
Although I’m sure I will find those who disagree, there is more than a preponderance of evidence to suggest that something indeed lies beyond this physical realm.
There are few (if any) religious or spiritual beliefs that don’t hold to the idea of an afterlife of some kind.
Remembering that many of these traditions and belief systems have been passed down through millennia, we can either throw the baby out with the bathwater or begin to embrace the wisdom of the ages.
Ask anyone who has recalled a near-death or clinical death experience, and inevitably they report moving towards a “bright light.”
We also know that there are those who claim to communicate with spirits, and have a massive following because of their ability to communicate spiritual truths.
Some even say they remember their past lives.
All I have done here is offer a surface level view of the evidence. You can easily go much deeper into the points mentioned, and even identify more.
Either way, this is the transition that’s waiting for us at the end of our time. But it’s not a life transition, at least not in the sense that we call our bodies life. It’s something else. Something more.
Expiry, Final Thoughts
Expiration can happen at a micro and macro level. The micro is you shedding a piece of yourself, moving into a new season, or embracing new life circumstances. Macro is when a pet or loved one passes.
Death can be challenging. We can mourn. We can celebrate. We can even do both. Whatever feelings arise, it’s only our job to acknowledge and love them. No need to try to fix or survive them.
I didn’t want this to sound like a how-to guide, which is why I haven’t offered a huge list of suggestions on how to handle expiry. We will handle it as we will. But if we can resolve it in the moment, we carry less of the burden with us.
I don’t know whether time is the great healer. But we always recover from transitions to varying degrees. The question is – how much of it are you willing to face?
Unless you have questions that need answering, the Life Transitions series is about to reach a conclusion. Let me know if there’s anything I missed.
Leave a comment below.
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