John walked into the office and before he sat down, he announced that he had sold his motorcycle. It was a shock to me as well as to him.
Previously, he had casually mentioned that he might have to sell it. He didn’t want to, but it was becoming increasingly difficult to ride due to back and hip issues. It was sudden, almost impulsive, because after a difficult ride, he listed the bike for sale online. It sold within a few days to the first person who looked at it.
Loss and Grief
John was in shock and grief. He was not prepared for the loss and was depressed. He sold more than a motorcycle – he sold a piece of his identity, and he wasn’t ready for it.
John’s friendships and social activities revolved around his bike since the age of 12. He forged a bond with a group of boys that was so tight, they considered one another to be brothers. They remained close friends even after he relocated to a different state in his 30s. Now in his mid-50s, he still called them “brother” and talked with them or saw them on a regular basis.
He finally found his place in his new home with a group of men who rode motorcycles. It was the core of his social life. His wife shared his interest and they had many years of happy memories together.
Selling his motorcycle was both a major loss and a life transition for him.
Transitions continue through out life. These changes extend far beyond a “mid-life crisis.” We grow, we mature, and we age. For as long as we live, we are constantly changing.
These life transitions entail losses and gains. For every change we make there is a process of letting go and grieving, even when we are glad the change occurred. Change equals grief. Change can bring great rewards, but we must go through the process of loss and grief.
In Order To Reap The Rewards We Must:
1. Identify the loss. Loss is complicated and multidimensional. There is never only one aspect to any loss. When John lost his motorcycle, he also lost a piece of himself and his identity, to name only two of his losses.
2. Absorb the loss. Denial is hard to break. It takes time to fully comprehend, believe and accept losses.
3. Use the grief. This means giving up the unrealistic goals we have for ourselves and others. It is letting go of our fantasies of what life is supposed to be and looking at reality head-on.
Resolving grief means accepting that life is transitory, we are not perfect and we cannot fix every mistake we’ve made or right every wrong we’ve done.
Loss And Possibility
With each loss comes possibility and grand opportunity. Who else might John find inside himself? What else might he learn about himself? With the joy of the motorcycle, the thrill of the ride and the closeness of his friends in his life, John had no need to search deeper inside for undiscovered aspects of himself.
The Undiscovered Self
Unknown to each of us, we have pieces of ourselves that lie dormant waiting for a time to surface, to be nurtured and to grow. This can only be done in conjunction with the grieving process. It takes mindfulness, creativity, experimentation and an open mind.
Having an open mind is the hardest part of this process. The self-definitions:“This is the way I am, How I was born, Who I am, Who I want to be,” have to be overcome by the hope and belief that there is much more to be discovered.