Life Transition & Loss
Life transitions are challenging because they force us to let go of the familiar and face the future with a feeling of vulnerability. Most life transitions begin with a loss:
- The loss of a role
- The loss of a person
- The loss of a place
- The loss of your sense of where you fit in the world
Any significant loss makes most people feel fearful and anxious. We live in a culture that has taught us to feel uncomfortable with uncertainty, so we are anxious, or even afraid, when our lives are disrupted.
A life transition can be positive or negative, planned or unexpected. Some transitions happen without warning, and they may be quite dramatic. Other life transitions come from positive experiences, but despite being planned and anticipated, they can be just as life-altering as the unexpected events.
Whether positive or negative, life transitions cause us to leave behind the familiar and force us to adjust to new ways of living. They can leave us feeling completely unprepared and we may be thrown into a personal crisis, feeling shocked, angry, sad, and withdrawn.
On the positive side, these transitions give us a chance to learn about our strengths and to explore what we really want out of life. This time of reflection can result in a sense of renewal, stability, and a new equilibrium.
Examples of Life Transitions:
- Starting a career
- Changing jobs
- Getting married
- Birth of a child
- Leaving for university
- Serious illness
- Significant loss (of a person, job, pet, or anything important)
Therapy for Life TransitionsSometimes people feel embarrassed or ashamed that they have not dealt with a life transition in the way they think they should, or in the way they perceive others to have coped. Sometimes people do not understand why a supposedly positive life transition has had a negative impact on their mental health.Successfully moving through a life transition usually means experiencing the following stages:
- Feel a range of emotions (anger, anxiety, confusion, numbness, and self-doubt)
- Feel a loss of self-esteem
- Begin to accept the change
- Acknowledge that you need to let go of the past and accept the future
- Begin to feel hopeful about the future
- Feel increased self-esteem
- Develop an optimistic view of the future