General Question

shrubbery's avatar

What do you do when an important, perhaps the most important chapter of your life so far comes to a close?

Asked by shrubbery (10233points) May 9th, 2009

Something that has helped define you as a person for a great percentage of your life is ending and you can never get it back. What do you do? How do you deal with it?

Do you find something to replace it or does that feel like you’re betraying what you were doing before? If something similar (but it will never be quite the same) pops up, would you take that opportunity or would that feel like you were just trying too hard and you should let bygones be bygones and keep the good memories intact?

I try to be all for fresh starts and new opportunities but… I’m not one for change and I can’t help but be depressed that this thing is all over. And I know that over the course of this year lots of other things are going to end.

What do you do when this happens to you?

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20 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Get scared, heal, move on

Darwin's avatar

Sounds like you are facing retirement.

Personally, I found something to replace my job and even set it up a good six months before I actually retired. Now I sell books online and am my own boss. I may not be making huge bucks, but it is satisfying, intellectually stimulating, and relates to my childhood ambition to own a bookstore someday.

I look at my dad as an example of how to do things because at 84 he still has something he finds exciting to do every day. He retired as a VP of a large company 24 years ago. Then he became a professor at a college for about 10 years, founded and ran a professional society (in a profession he fell into, not the one he officially trained for), and became a consultant for the government. Next he got interested in a different aspect of science and is now publishing peer reviewed papers in that field, teaching himself quantum physics, and polishing his skills in speaking French.

My motto is to learn one new thing before lunch every day. As long as your mind is learning and you are growing mentally, life is not a burden.

So don’t look back. Always look ahead.

TitsMcGhee's avatar

I think the end of high school was like this for me. I was completely unsure of where it left me, and I almost had a panic attack when I left my house for the airport to go to college. I just had to accept that that period of my life was through and go into the next without trying to go backwards, just moving forward. Life is going, whether you want it to or not, so you might as well let it take you somewhere amazing. Try not to spend time worrying about the future instead of living it.

FGS's avatar

I have been in the US Army for almost 17 years. I am a tanker by profession yet in the rank that I am now I will never be on tanks again. I miss the adrenaline rush horribly but the absence is something I have learned to come to grips with. I’m just looking to finish out my time and move on…nothing will bring back the good ‘ole days so its best just to move on and remember them with in the past doesn’t bring anything but pain.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

@FGS Tankers are the real deal. More power to you for training up those who will then remember their days with fondness.

seekingwolf's avatar

When one chapter of my life ends and I’m about to move on, I call it a “threshold”. It’s the end of something and the beginning of another, a very conscious change in my life…a moment that I know doesn’t last because once it’s over, my life pattern is going to change and I will change too.

In my mind, it’s the only time I really perceive the movement of time…standing on a threshold, you’re looking back and feeling almost nostalgic but grateful, looking on you have apprehension but you may be glad…when I’m on a “threshold”, I feel very minute go by and it feels like I age.

My latest threshold was before going to college…the summer in between. Last summer.
I was scared for the future and sad to leave my private school, and just worried in general. I felt so young but so old at the same time…

I listened to Nirvana, lost a little weight, and took long drives. It passed and now I’m done with my first year (finally). You need to plan for the future and savour the time in between life phases because it sure doesn’t last long…and there’s no more after death. Trust in yourself and the person that you have become that you will get through this, as many others have. Things can always be for the better if you just let them!

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Remember the good times and take what you’ve learned and move on to life’s next challenge.

Dog's avatar

You mention replacement as betrayal to what was.

If the issue is the end of a relationship or loss of a loved one I can tell you firsthand that when a new relationship comes along it is not betrayal to what was.

The new that is ahead if you will not be the same thus is not a replacement. In my case over time I found that my world, thought vastly different, was again full of love and meaning.

Good luck as go go through your life- transition. May you find peace and a new life that is fufilling.

hearkat's avatar

When one finds oneself at a crossroads in life, there is usually some degree of grieving to be done about what has been or will be lost. We often get very entrenched in and attached to a lifestyle; so when we are forced to change, we need to redefine ourselves as well as our hopes, dreams, and plans for our future.

I have had a few serious relationships that ended; but I also once abruptly lost a job after 7 years. I was fairly inexperienced in the field when I took that position, and had grown in leaps and bounds there. My boss was a mentor and a friend, and I truly felt betrayed when she let me go. My colleagues there were like family, so not only did I lose my income and source of professional identity (upon which much of my self-esteem was based at the time), but I also lost the connection with those individuals. Because of the awkwardness of the situation, I did not attempt to pursue friendships with them, and none of them contacted me, either. Once the shock wore off, I recognized that I did have to grieve for that loss, much like a death or divorce.

My son is now on the cusp of 18 and High School graduation, and I sense his trepidation – especially because he has no specific goals, so he feels disconnected to any future or plans. He has not enjoyed High School, so there isn’t much grief involved, but there is much anxiety about the unknown that lies before him. It is very difficult for him to discuss, especially with me, because I get a sense that he feels he’s disappointed me in some way. So I don’t know what to do to help reassure him, and that frustrates and saddens me.

So I suggest taking some time to reflect on what has passed, and what you have gained from it in terms of experience and knowledge. Know that those experiences will always be a part of you, but you do not have to allow your definition of yourself to be limited by it. Look to your future as an open road… life truly is what you make it. Start imagining yourself at your next crossroads: where do you want to be, when you look back at this time in your life, what would you like to see, and what do you want to avoid so you have few regrets? That is how I got through my divorce… by imagining a time when it would be behind me, and wanting to look back with a sense of dignity, rather than regret; and I based my decisions and actions accordingly.

Good Luck to you!

ram201pa's avatar

In the past three years I had two chapters close on me. A career and a long term relationship. Trust me, when one door closes another opens. Stay hopeful, stay positive and above all be grateful for everything in your life—even the closed chapter.

Pcrecords's avatar

start another one baby!

lifeflame's avatar

If someone or something has been influential in your life, then you are you today because of them. Thus, every day you wake up and live, they are within you.
LIfe is fluid and throbbing, change happens so that new, fresh and even more exciting things can come into our lives.

I once was in a relationship where I was either living too much in the past (“Why can’t you be more like when we first met? How did love this passion?”); or too much in the future (“What’s the point if we don’t plan to get married?”) ...
I think in doing so, I missed a lot of opportunity to be happy together.
It took me a while, but I finally figured out: Live now! The present is all we have. Drop all past and future, make your own happiness! And suddenly, we started enjoying each other’s company so much more again. Eventually we parted ways, as you say, closed a chapter, but nothing can negate the experience together.

Transitions can be hard, but they are what they are.
Oh.. and I think the most important chapter is the one you are living now. It’s the only one in present tense, and the only one with the possibility of action.

Macaulay's avatar

Continue writing.

ccbatx's avatar

Life is always about ceasing the moment. ‘Carpe diem,’ you know? Life always presents people with new opportunities, it’s just up to that person to take them. Plus, you seem to be forgetting that you’re the writer of this book. You can make an even more exciting chapter in your book, write more and more amazing chapters. Your destiny is in your hands, your whole life is. So take advantage of that, and live.

mcbealer's avatar

GQ, and soooo many poignant answers.
A few people also touched on this theme on this thread.
Mostly, I would like to add that personally I am almost hyper vigilant about “replacing” loss in my life, and try to remain aware that grieving is a process. Sometimes it’s slow, and more often than not an opportunity for personal growth.

mcbealer's avatar

*post edit : hyper vigilant about not auto-replacing loss in my life

hearkat's avatar

@mcbealer: Thanks for the correction… I was wondering if that was what you really meant!

LostInParadise's avatar

If what you are facing is retirement, I read an interesting theory about the stages of life from psychologist Martin Seligman. He said that as we age we move from inward involvement to outward involvement. We go from wanting to develop ourselves as much as possible to wanting to assist others. Going from one stage to the next does mean the end of one thing but it also means the beginning of another, which in its own way can be fulfilling as well.

bright_eyes00's avatar

I get a fifth of jack and either cry or laugh. Drown my sorrow and toast my joy. (as far as i can recall i have not had something that dramatic happen to me that would change my life in a such a way)

FutureMemory's avatar

Reflect on its positive contributions to my life, and remind myself that all good things eventually come to an end.

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