As this winter has slowly, with fits and starts, changed to spring, I have been thinking about change. I offer this as an opportunity to consider change in your own life. Nicole Jellinek, LICSW, a previous Kesher social worker, wrote a wonderful article on change a few years ago that I would like to share again here.
We've heard the sayings a million times. "Change is inevitable." "Change is good for you." "Without change you'd never grow." It's not that they're wrong, it's just that change can be much harder to adjust to than those aphorisms imply-especially when the change is not of our choosing. Anyone who's lost a spouse, been debilitated by a car accident, gone through a difficult divorce, or been laid off from their job will tell you that change can be wrenchingly painful and full of loss.
So how do we adjust to unwanted change? Well, there's no doubt that time can be our greatest ally. With time the sharp edges of newness-of fear, uncertainty, grief, and shock-wear down and we learn to manage in our new situation. We get used to it. Over time we can also come to accept the change, letting go of the hurt, anger, and grief that often come with unwanted change. It's not that we're all better. It's just that we have learnt to "walk with the loss."
Friends and family can be most important in this period, as they act as supports and anchors when change first hits and remain with us as constants as we find our way in our changed world. Counseling can help us understand our feelings and figure out how to move forward. Many people find great comfort in the ritual and community of Shabbat services, while others find courage, strength, and hope in their connection to their faith. For some, meditation, yoga, and other Eastern practices help them find a stronger "center" and inner calm as they adjust to their changes.
Eventually, as we accept and adjust, we can begin to see light and feel hope again. We may even begin to see how in the process of coping we have grown. Many people come to feel that though they may not have asked for their lives to be wrenched into a new place, once they are ready to accept that it's happened they can embrace the change and move forward.
But getting to that place of peace, strength, and hope is a "two steps forward, one step back" progression that can takes months and often years to unfold. If you are in the earlier stages of unwanted change, your feelings of grief and loss can be intensely painful, and it may be hard to see how you will ever see light and feel hope again. As normal as those feelings are, they are hard to bear. As difficult as change is, reaching out for help is a reflection of the strength that will pull you through.
I hope that sharing Nicole's words about change helps you reflect on change in your own life. If you are struggling to cope with a change in your life, please know that I am here to help. Whether you would like to meet and talk or you would like help in connecting to community supports, please email me or call me at my confidential Kesher number.
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Amy Small, LICSW, is the new Kesher social worker at the synagogue. Kesher is the congregational outreach program of Jewish Family Service of Rhode Island, funded by the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island, and currently active at Congregation Agudas Achim, Temple Torat Yisrael, Temple Am David, Temple Emanu-El and Congregation Beth Sholom. Amy may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or