How to accept endings gracefully?


Paridhi Laddha

Psychology Associate

All endings are a chance to rest, to breathe, and reflect on the conclusion of one journey so we can prepare for another. ~Amy Jalapeno

Everyone loves a new beginning, but what we rarely talk about is how challenging it can be to manage the endings that must take place before we can free ourselves to move forward. Everything ends eventually. How you do it is what counts. Learning the art of ending things well can mean the difference between staying stuck in a rut and living life fully alive.

Life is Full of Endings

There’s the ending of one job for another, ending your single life to marry, ending your life in one home to relocate to another, the end of a relationship, or the end of a cherished life with the passing of a loved one. But endings represent significant turning points which include some pretty unruly emotional swings. A person can experience grief one minute, freedom the next; they can struggle with uncertainty and fear, but at the same time be relieved to be able to move on to the next phase of their life. It is up to you to decide how you want to deal with endings. It can either enhance your sense of well-being, make you stronger, or add to the stress and emotional roller coaster ride as you face the changes in your life.

Why do we struggle?

It’s human nature to define ourselves at least in part by our relationships and surroundings. When these change, especially if the change is forced upon us, it can be disorienting because it shakes up our identity. Getting married changes your identity from a single person to a member of a couple. Having a child changes your sense of identity from a wife or daughter to include being a mother. Changing jobs shifts your identity from someone who is established and comfortable with their environment and routine to the “new guy” who has to learn the ropes and fit in with the new company culture.

So how can you learn to manage endings to make transitions easier?

Your overall attitude toward change is certainly important, but simply being aware that you have to undergo a process of a transaction can help you in easing the process.

Most people expect to be able to move directly from the old to the new. But this isn’t a trip from one side of the street to the other. It’s a journey from one identity to another, and that kind of journey takes time.

Yes, endings can be hard, so here are some ways to stop struggling with endings and process the endings gracefully.

1. Acknowledge Endings

Regardless of the circumstances of the ending, you have to come to terms with it, which is the important first step–you are no longer single, married, employed, etc. But this is only the beginning of the process. Once we acknowledge something as an ending, the next phase is normally disengagement from the activities, relationships, and settings from your previous role. For example, if you are getting married, you may begin detaching yourself from certain ‘single’ activities.

Maybe the people you associated with at your old job made a habit of meeting at a place for drinks after work and you continue to join them for a while after changing jobs. But you’ll eventually have to get ready to let go and begin focusing on establishing habits and practices associated with your new job identity.

"Every exit is an entry somewhere else.”

2. Realize when it's over

Marking the ending of things is rooted in our culture. The parties, finales, celebrations, and farewells, everything good or bad, eventually come to end. Even our birthdays technically celebrate an ending. When a baby turns 1, we mark the end of her first year, not the beginning of it.

One reason you haven't been able to move forward is that there's an ending in your life that still lingers. And that is why it is important to give a proper closure, meet your ex before ending a relationship, talk to them about everything that is in your mind, let nothing be unsaid. If you are leaving a place, tell the people close to you, what they mean to you. Try to end things on happy terms.

3. The Internal Process

You’ve accepted the change, but continue to struggle to move forward. This phase can look and feel like periods of sadness or even depression; it's like spending time in your own cocoon. It’s very tempting to be self-critical at this stage if we feel that we should somehow be able to move things along faster, but the truth is, it takes time, where we have to cut ties with the familiar but have not yet quite settled into what is new. It’s critically important to give yourself the time you need to mourn the ending and acknowledge your emotions. This is your time to begin exploring new possibilities in order to make peace with the change and begin moving forward.

For example, you are welcomed with a new job, it provides a great salary, title, and learning, but you are extremely attached to the people in your old job and it is difficult for you to leave it. Now, you can get upset about it, you can vent out and you must express to the people - what they mean to you, and later on, it will be easier for you to let go and move on.

When the time finally came to leave you would have undergone a period of grieving, and get to the point where you become comfortable with your new role. When you acknowledge these emotions and allow yourself to go through the process at your own pace, it helps you to make a much smoother transition to your new identity and vastly different circumstances.

For everything you lose, you gain something else; and for everything you gain, you lose something else. You don’t have to like it, but it’s just easier if you do. Pay attention to your outlook on life. You can either regret or rejoice; it’s your choice. ~Karen Fitzgerald

4. Picture the new beginning

Visualization is a powerful mental tool. You have to picture your new beginning. For example, visualize your new beginning, how big is your new office or you giggling with your partner after getting married, and how it makes you feel. Realize that you always wanted it and that's the reason you have it now.

5. Keep yourself busy

This is one of the most basic points, you should try to keep yourself as busy as possible. Do not overthink about the past, Don't always think about how happy you were. Whenever you linger back to the past, distract your mind with what's coming next, discover the joys that the new situation/change is offering and practice gratitude about how great it is NOW.

6. Embrace the Change

This phase is about allowing yourself to embrace the new change. We’ve completed the ending and internal work and finally arrived at the “new beginning” phase of a transition. You begin feeling lighter, a sense of rightness and clarity as you find yourself once again feeling comfortable in your own skin and thinking about the future. Endings come in all shapes and sizes. You can learn to manage and stop struggling with endings if you will acknowledge and give yourself time to adjust to the change.

Let go of what was, celebrate the good and forgive the bad.

It’s all part of the journey, and the journey is your life.

7. Last right thing is a clue of what is to come

Endings always carry the first string of new beginnings. We celebrate the first year of a baby but it heralds in her second year, too. We celebrate the wedding that ends the engagement but begins a lifetime together. We celebrate graduation that ends the time of structured study but begins a time of continued learning in the world.

These are some ways that will help to deal with the endings better, help to end your relationships gracefully, support you in your transition to another job, and in general help you gain perspective whenever you are about to transition into other roles of your life.

View more content by Paridhi Laddha

Discussion Board

What good thing did you quit, and what happened?

Madhu Laddha
Amazing 🤩