Holding on to my sandals

Jan Kwiatkowski, LMFT, is a psychotherapist and mental health consultant for Aurora Family Service in Milwaukee, WI.

I don’t know about you, but I do my best to deny that the end of summer and Labor Day weekend is just a few days away. While there is something wonderful about each season, summer is by far, is my favorite.

I am one of those people who try to go without a jacket and wear sandals as long as possible…probably sometimes longer than I should. I will do whatever I can do outside, for as long as I can because I get cabin fever long before February in Wisconsin. It’s hard for me to let go of summer.

I’ve been thinking about the process of letting go quite a bit. I’ve also been thinking about the internal labor it takes to let go. I know that in myself and in every family I work with, letting go can be and often is very hard work. This is especially true when the hurt,  injustice or loss has been big or feels big to us.

One of the most loving things I think we can do for ourselves and for our loved ones, is realize that letting go is a process, whether it’s letting go of summer or letting go of a deep hurt or loss. Everyone does this process a little differently than everyone else.

My spouse doesn’t bother to ask about my sandals and I don’t ask about how long he is going to fish. We also go through and integrate transitions and losses very differently.

This is the time of year for transitions and some losses. You may find yourself sending your last child off to K-5 or to college. The college graduate may be moving back home, when you had plans to re-do the empty nest. Perhaps you are starting school yourself and wondering what you were thinking when you were sure you could manage school alongside work and family.

Remember everyone experiences and reacts to transition differently, even when going through the same transition. You know your family best and will know who jumps right in, who is hesitant, who gets a little cranky for a while, who needs more sleep and who needs extra reassurance. Some survival tips for navigating the transition:

  • Do your best to stay in the moment. Even if you are the calendar and schedule keeper/organizer, you can only be in one place at a time, with the people you are with in that moment in time.
  • Try to really focus on being present with them. Self-care! Self-care! Self-care! Something simple like a fancy coffee, five minutes in the sun during the work day, music instead of news or even five minutes to just sit in the car by the lakefront or a park and enjoy the scenery. Self-care could even be letting the dishes wait till tomorrow.
  • If your children are old enough, ask them what helps them during transitions. You can tell them what helps you.
  • Make a pact about how you will let each other know when you need a little transition support.

If you or your family are experiencing painful transitions and need additional help or support on getting through whatever it is, it is OK to seek some counseling help. Give us a call at Aurora Family Service, 414-345-3500.

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