In my first Sociology class about death and dying, I learned the saying, Funerals Are For the Living – Not for the Dead!
Always wondered why, after a death, there is the need for a funeral and other commemorative occasions that make us celebrate and mourn at the same time.
After my father’s funeral, some 28 years ago, I started to realize why thousands of people needed to say goodbye to him. My mother howled and my Dadi (paternal grandmother) remained stoic; everyone consoled themselves in their own way.
In addition to the (sometimes) traumatic end of life, there are other endings, that break our hearts and help shape us as people.
In 2009, I wrote an essay Difficulty with Endings about impending changes in my life; both at work and personal life, there are endings that are often traumatic and sad. How we handle these endings, with peace and our heads held up high, is critical to our psyche and how we move forward from that point onward.
I have worked with several folks, who have recently gone through organizational re-structuring or downsizing at blue-chip corporations. Often, these people have worked with these companies for years and never worked anywhere else. This corporate decision, to move them out, is sometimes devastating to them.
Having personally experienced similar changes in my own life, I feel that there is a need to cleanse and provide closure to parting-of-the-ways, to provide an appropriate stepping stone to the future.
Without the right closure or time to heal/cleanse, we often carry around the burden of fear and anger, that eventually affects us from moving forward.
After my last role ended, I quickly cleaned out the closet of all their logo shirts, baseball caps and other memorabilia. I wrote a blog essay (Once In A Lifetime) about my positive experience and then thanked all those who helped me during my tenure. These cleansing steps allowed me to move forward in my thinking about where I want my career to go in the future.
While easier done at the professional organization, on the personal level there is sometimes envy, anger, rage and many other negative sentiments involved in a break-up. Still, if both parties respect each other and care about each other’s well-being, they are more likely to part ways with mature acceptance.
In personal relationship matters, closure is best when agreed by both parties, to remain civil and supportive to each other – irrespective if your relationship is for 6 months or 16 years. This requires maturity by both parties to agree on a framework for both sides to come to closure and cleanse.
When I talk to senior executives who are in career transition mode, often I see anger and hurt emotions that cloud their judgment – eventually manifesting in their poisoned speech. I have always advised them to keep their head-up high and not say a word bad about their previous employers. The same holds in personal life; anything bad you say about your partner or spouse reflects poorly on you and your judgment in that relationship.
Similarly, the process of cleansing is just as important to close out a chapter. A friend recently told me that his 6 year relationship broke up a year ago and he hasn’t met someone he likes or is cautious about the next step. We discuss his past and eventually found that he continues to hold a box full of stuff that they had collected together, and that he kept the box in his closet, as memento from the past. Last weekend, after our conversation, he texted me that he had finally thrown everything out in a garbage bag and wants to make a fresh start in his life. He needed to close that chapter out and cleanse. He is now ready to move forward.
I met one individual recently, who had worked at a major corporation for 23 years. When she got her “transition package”, she told me this is the best thing that could’ve happened to her. She said, that she had never had the opportunity to think about her career and has been pulled from job to job. All she wants to do now is work for a non-profit and be happy with what she does!
Not all endings are always that happy. But an end, typically, leads to the opening of new doors and windows of opportunities. Sooner we can bring closure and cleanse our own minds about it, it is more likely that we will move forward quickly and make the rest of our lives more pleasant and happy!