Seeds of Change

Change is an inevitable part of living yet few of us are very comfortable with this. We often exert a great deal of mental and physical effort in maintaining the myth of non-change, such as dying our hair, getting a face lift or buying a sports car in response to our aging. We are, as a social group, quite skilled at maintaining our belief in the continuity of things as they are.

When change is very great, such as the loss of a partner or a long cherished job, the myth of continuity becomes unsustainable. There is no glossing over, no magical paint that can fix our broken world. The old regime, the old order, the past is irrevocably gone. It is extremely disturbing, disorienting and downright painful. However, such change is also an opportunity for profound personal growth if one can open to it.

In the first weeks of loss, the possibility of a new order is unimaginable. On a physical level, the neural  networks in the brain, accustomed to a particular experiential reality, are now denied it. The partner who so reliably arrived every night at 6 pm does not come home. There is no warm body in bed with which to snuggle when cold and no one to wake in the morning. Each and every reminder of the loss will register as mental pain as our brain cells seek and fail to obtain the physical sensations they have come to expect. Add to this a symbolic mind capable of recalling every painful event, every cherished memory in perpetuity and the suffering can be immense.

Great loss puts us into the void, the empty place where all that previously made sense makes no sense. Nothing fits, nothing is right, nothing works. It is a very uncomfortable place  because there is no possibility of repair, no way to go back. However, in this void is the impetus for profound transformation. There are spiritual lessons to learn, new selves to discover, a deeper purpose to embrace. How does this transformation happen? Gradually and with eyes open, as we work day by day to create new hope, new meaning  and new direction for our life. When we see the process of grief within this framework of hope, as a conduit for spiritual transformation, we make a big step toward that transformation.

The film series, Secrets of Life and Death, invites us to explore the spiritual side of life and death. See listing of events in the Bay Area and links to great resources on death, caregiving, aging and grieving.

Life is like dancing. If we have a big floor, many people will dance. Some will get angry when the rhythm changes. But life is changing all the time. — Miguel Angel Ruiz

If you can learn to accept and even welcome the endings in your life, you may find that the feeling of emptiness that initially felt uncomfortable turns into a sense of inner spaciousness that is deeply peaceful. — Eckhart Tolle

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Grief Transformation Coach Michelle Peticolas, Ph.D. helps people transform their grief with a holistic approach to mind, body and spirit that heals trauma, reframes past attachments and releases limiting beliefs while uncovering a true life purpose and direction. If you’re ready to shift into a whole new way of being with death and loss, a new way of living your life, get Michelle’s complimentary guide, Essentials for Grieving Well at

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