Transitions – Moving towards the Unknown

I have a particular interest in working with people struggling with transitions. When a partner dies and we mourn his/her death we are undergoing a transition, when we leave home for the first time we undergo an ever shifting transition from child and dependant to adult and independent, or when we move from one city or country to live in another, we will undergo a transition too.

Transition happens when we marry or when we take on a new job – it is part of the process of life and our ultimate challenge at the end of our life.  Transitions are not only psychological but require much practical adjustment as well. They entail leaving behind that which we have known – the familiar, that which has helped us form our identity and gives us a sense of security. Sometimes transitions are exciting and offer potential to do something different, better this time. Sometimes we fear and resist moving forward. But regardless of whether we anticipate the process or resist it, I believe that if we are able to mourn that which has passed or access the feelings around what it was we might have missed out on in the past, we will be better placed to more fully embrace that which will be.
What makes transitions difficult is that we have one foot on the past’s terra firma, and one hovering above the as yet not constructed future. It is natural to want to remain on firm ground, go back and stay put, but in taking the step forward we have changed something in ourselves and, very likely, in our circumstances and there is no going back. Anxiety about our ability to function in our new circumstances undermines our ability to move forward with confidence.  Depression often comes about during transitions when the level of anxiety is too high to handle and we shut down. Or the healthy grief of mourning that which we have lost is denied and defended against.
Transitions are part of life, they offer us a period of time to adjust to a new way of being and living. This period can last a long time, depending on what you are moving towards: the ‘Emerging Adult’ inhabits a time of transition from 18-30 years old ; or the menopausal woman goes through a biological as well as a psychological shift which can last a decade or more.Perhaps we could look at life as one long transition. What are your thoughts?

Deborah Davies is an LPN member.