The Grief of Change

“But what if we just want things to stay the same?”

I hear you, sister!

When things are in a constant state of flux, grief is a common and appropriate reaction. And it often shows up as frustration.

We don’t only grieve specific losses, such as the death of a loved one or the loss of a job, but change itself — its existence, its relentlessness — can elicit feelings of grief too.

Recently, I’ve noticed grief showing up in individuals and organizations in response to the end of an era. Although that kind of change isn’t instantaneous, sometimes it is marked by a noticeable moment — such as the day you drop your youngest child off at university and come home to an empty house, or when a retail store closes its doors for the last time.

The changes that don’t have a “date” are almost harder to grieve. They’re the ones that happen slowly over time, sometimes at a broader cultural level. They can call your relevance into question, or challenge your fundamentals such as your identity or sustainability. Demand for your service gradually dwindles, or you realize that the business model that served you so well for so long has lots its edge.

When you notice that happening, you likely have some hard choices to make. But first, allow yourself and your team members to “feel the feels.” Acknowledge the sadness, the disappointment and the exhaustion that can come with change — even good, wanted change and especially the kind that arrives uninvited. It’ll help you tap into your adaptability skills more effectively once you’re ready to sort out your next chapter.

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