A Reflection of Grief and Loss in Times of Transition

Two years ago, I lost my father. He’s coming in to my dreams recently, but I cannot be sure if it’s because of the timing. Or maybe because my thoughts are driving me due to difficult times.  It’s been two months since I left my full-time position as an OB/GYN. Definitely coincidental, however there could there be a connection with both events. 

Death and leaving a job are fundamental transitions. Both are death to the past. The grief experienced by the loss of someone we love, possesses similarities and differences to leaving a career. 

For many years my father battled with a chronic illness changing his ability to complete any activities that he loved. It stripped him of his ability to care for himself. Although I lost him two years ago, I feel as though we lost him much before that. 

Like most people I find myself holding on to the memories of the good times, the family trips, the festivals, his favorite foods, and his favorite holidays. I remember some of the specific things he said, what he dreamed of for his children. 

The loss is still felt two years later. I am not numb to it, and I used to try to push the feelings away. I soon realized that I had a lot of unresolved thoughts and feelings. By suppressing these thoughts and feelings, I wasn’t doing myself or those around me any favors. 

For example, I carried them in to my daily practice with my husband, my children, and even my friends. I found myself blaming those around me, people or inanimate objects for things not going my way. I felt frustration and anger towards people who didn’t have to watch their fathers suffer, or had not suffered the loss of a parent. The anger was a coping mechanism, a way for me to act out my feelings, without addressing my thoughts. 

When I finally started consciously being aware of this, I paused. I started writing down the feelings beginning to recognize their origins. By recognizing them, I was able to ‘deal’ with them, and move forward in the next phase of the transition. 

Now I get to share the fond and not so fond memories with my children humanizing my father. The grief is still there but now I am able to ‘manage’ the loss and no longer burying it deep to not deal with it.

Similarly, I found myself coping with the loss of my career at a young age similarly to the loss of my father two years ago. Now, I know what you’re thinking:  you chose to leave. And this is true, however the decision was a catalytic event that deserved grieving. I grieved because the life I had dreamt up for myself, was not quite what I wanted. 

To be honest the expectations I had placed on myself, as a physician, mother, wife and friend were not really ones I had chosen for myself. I was working and living the life I thought I was ‘supposed to.’ 

These last two months have been filled with transitions and a very real grieving process. Much like the rest of the world, I am now learning to work from home. My expectations of myself as a mother have not changed, however, the way I organize and carry out my days have changed. 

For example, my body was used to a certain level of chaos and anxiety. That is gone now but it is replaced with a sort of empty feeling. 

Many people will be thinking at this point: why is this lady complaining? The truth is, I am reflecting and recognizing what it feels like to grieve the loss of a person, or even of our own identity. And I am looking within to see how I will define this new reality. The transition will continue, but the grief and loss will be there, and that’s okay. 

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