On grief, vacuums, and transitions

10:30:00 AM BB 0 Comments

This post is dedicated to my late uncle Timothy. Thank you for being the best.

*I'm currently sick and typing this on my phone so book quotes have no citations. Will fix this later*

While I was on vacation, I started reading the book "Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes" by William Bridges. I bought this book this summer but delayed reading it cos I didn't feel ready. During my trip, I read a few chapters of the book and I want to share some of my thoughts here.

First, let's get some definitions out to the way. Bridges describes transitions as having an ending, a neutral point, and a new beginning. He writes "...letting go of an old situation, suffering the confusion nowhere of in-betweenness, and of launching forth again into a new situation".

Remember that every transition begins with an ending. This could be a move, divorce, death, end of a relationship, etc.

This summer I ended a long term relationship. A few weeks later, my favorite uncle also passed away from cancer very suddenly. I didnt even know he was we sick. A ton of my friends moved and I started a new job around the same time.

Mourning the end of my relationship was a no brainer. I knew I had to grieve and looking back I didn't always grieve in the most healthy ways. That really doesn't matter now. But I felt my uncle's death in a way that I didn't expect. 

Growing up, we lived in Bauchi and Uncle Tim lived in Port Harcourt which was at the time, roughly a 12 hr bus ride away. He still visited us as much as he could. He was a fun, supportive Uncle. Almost a decade ago, he moved to Australia for his MBA, and that was the last time I saw him. My family also moved around a bit during this time so our paths didn't cross. I tried to keep in touch via Skype and Facebook but we didn't have any regular communication. In my head, he was the fun uncle who had my back and would always be there for me.

When I learnt that cancer had taken him away from us, I shed many tears. I am a cryer but I didn't expect his death to produce such an emotional reaction because I hadn't seen him in many years.  In the weeks that followed, I had to get used to the idea of never having him around again which was very very odd. Like what the hell, this person is gone for ever.

I grieved the loss of my relationship and the loss of my uncle in different ways. Part of grieiving the loss of my uncle included many regrets for not being a huge part of his life for many  years. Grieving these 2 huge losses in my life changed me. I was very very lonely. I barely spent time at home and I had a huge vacuum which I didn't know how to fill up.

Some of the things that Bridges talks about in the book which I've thought about before reading it the past week was how this vacuum was really a state of mind. He writes "new beginnings are not a place, project, or relationship. It is a state of mind".

With the love of my friends, family, therapy, and time, this vacuum started to close. The loneliness started to fade and happiness started to return. I also learnt a lot about myself in the process.

I learnt that how I deal with loss and transitions is by ignoring and not admitting it to myself. I learnt that the vacuum caused by loss made me act in ways I didn't know I could. It made me angry and hateful. Traits that do not describe me. I also learnt that grief can make me a stronger better version of myself. And that travel helps too (went go Toronto immediately after in August).

I just returned from a wonderful trip to New York city and San Juan, Puerto Rico. I call the picture below "Boma Brown goals" cos it's me happier than I've ever been! I'm not the same person I was in August and I'm very thankful for the stones life threw at me this summer.


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