Change of the Seasons

We are currently in the depths of winter. For some, that might be more noticeable than for others.  The days are getting longer, the sun is coming out more, the temperature is starting to be above the 30s at least a couple times a week. It’s all so exciting!  New life and springtime are just around the corner. The change of the seasons always makes me reflect about life and how we are always going through different seasons throughout our lives. We go through seasons of joy, depression, loss, hurt, forgiveness, disappointment, death, and seasons of contentment, peace and new life. Transition, transition, transition, it’s a part of what makes life, life.

Maybe you or a family member are in a season of major transition. The older we get, the transition to a life of less mobility looms closer. Some of you may have already gone through the transition or some of you might be thinking about it for yourself or for a loved one. The transition could involve moving into an assisted living home, nursing home or maybe into a relative’s home, because you just can’t do the things that you used to be able to do. These transitions can be scary. A lot of people do not like change. This is especially common for the elderly. I think one of the important things to remember when you are going through a season of change, is to give yourself grace.

When you transition, it means that something in your life is coming to an end. There is often a grieving process that we need to go through in our hearts when something in our lives is completed. First, we go through denial, trying to put off the inevitable, and not fully accepting the change that needs to happen. Then we go through times of disappointment, sadness, anger and bitterness, and can even sometimes place the blame on loved ones around us, who are just trying to help. Remember, it’s okay to feel these things. It is a normal part of the grieving process. And a lot of times it feels like that season of feeling down is never going to end. But there is hope!

Even on your worst days, try to remember that you are going through the stages of grief because of the changes in your life, and give yourself grace. It may not feel like it at the time, but soon you will reach the final stage of the grieving process, which is acceptance. Accepting the fact that you had a different life before, reflecting on those memories with joy, and now being able to accept any new moments of joy that will come your way. Be on the lookout for them. There are many things that you can enjoy, even in this new stage of your life.

Here are some other ways that can help you go through seasons of transition. Surround yourself with people who are supportive of you. People you can trust and who can verbally process all the changes in your life with. Don’t pick people that will join you down in the gutter. Pick people who will genuinely listen to you, and then encourage you as you go through it. And don’t be afraid to share your feelings with them. So many times, we try to hold our feelings in, to prove that we are resilient, but that can make this season of transition way harder. If you have a family member who is transitioning to an assisted living home, try to be that supportive, listening ear to them. And give them grace to go through the process that they need to. Another way to help them is by making sure that they are getting adequate sleep, exercise, and encouraging them to join into any activities going on at their new home. Being active is a great way to help the elderly take their minds off of the negative.

Change VS Remaining The Same

Nearly everyone on planet earth has a hard time with change.  Think about this it.  For every major change in your life, what kind of pressure did life have to put onto you to make you willing to change?  Sometimes a job gets so stifling that you finally make the big change to find something else.  Sometimes our health goes downhill so dramatically that we finally start making dietary/exercise changes or finally go and see a doctor.  Sometimes relationships become so unhealthy that we finally confront someone, walk away, or decide to talk to a therapist.  In each of these situations, it becomes blatantly obvious that change is necessary, but even so, it take much time to work up the courage to take the step toward change.

I think that this is sometimes because nostalgia is so strong.  There are things that should remain the same.  The traditions & celebrations that we enjoy with our families bring much needed stability to us and for those coming after us, down through the generations.  If we change careers every year or two, the lack of continuity can be harmful for the financial health of those who depend on us. Change is not always a good thing.  Sometimes perseverance & an old fashioned “stick-to-it” attitude is the best option for our situation.

Growing old is a sticky spot to find ourselves in.  On the one hand, our families often look to us to be the long-term glue that holds the past & present together.  As we age, we notice that they look to us for cues as to when we should say grace at the table & when we open gifts.  Our children & grandchildren start calling to ask about special recipes that we make at the holidays.  And often, it seems, that just as they are becoming nostalgic about the traditions we've held dear for years, we're finding that we need to move on and change in new ways.

Because our children & grandchildren are growing older, we might finally feel the freedom to do some of the things that we didn't think that we could before.  Maybe, for some, that means traveling during holidays.  Maybe it means that you've decided you're going to get healthy mentally &/or physically & it brings repercussions in your family life.  Maybe it's something as simple as saying “no” when you really do not want to do something.  So how do you determine when things need to change & when things should remain the same for the sake of stability?

  1. Consider yourself & others. Is the change that you propose something that is for the ULTIMATE health & well-being of you & the others involved?  Notice I did not ask if it would FEEL like it was for their ultimate good.  Oftentimes unexpected change does not feel fantastic.  Examine your motives, then talk openly & honestly to the others that will be involved & move forward.  If it is an extreme situation, or if there are addictions involved, seek counsel from a professional as you move forward. You may need their support in days to come.
  2. Consider the children involved. Very young ones do not need to deal with adult issues that are going on.  Do your best to ensure that their worlds remain as stable as possible even if changes are required.  Figure out how you can carry on a semblance of normalcy through the change & help them to have good memories.
  3. Keep important traditions. Determine which traditions are important to you & others you care about & keep them up.  When there are huge changes (as in living situations) it can be difficult. If, for instance, you're moving to an assisted living community, but Thanksgiving has always been held at your house, work through where that celebration will now be held.  You can keep the tradition while changing the venue.  It may feel awkward at first, but you'll find a new normal to work from very quickly.
  4. In everything, show love. Whether you decide that nostalgia or change is the way to handle a situation, be sure to emphasize that you love the other people that will be involved in the decision. When people are sure of your love it will make even difficult things go much more smoothly.   
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