Sunday, December 10, 2006

Everything changes . . .

Grief is an interesting beast. For me, naming it takes away a lot of its power and lets me look and love it for what it is. 
Feeling it means that I have been attached to something special, something worthwhile. So feeling it is not always bad.

When we leave one major phase of life and go on to another, I think the awful feeling of stress we feel can be called grief. We are losing life as we know it, and a lot of the comfortable way of being is going to be lost. We grieve for the experiences we know that we would have had if we had stayed, and for the loss of contact with those whom we have gotten to know and love.

I'm more prepared for it this time. In the past it has really shaken me, and I have let it stop what I was doing. But now that I know what it is, I can deal with it in a much more sensible manner and acknowledge that the feelings are real and are being felt for a legitimate reason.

It can come upon you suddenly, this awful feeling that you are doing the wrong thing, you are leaving something behind that you really shouldn't and that things will change for the worse. Or it can be this overwhelming sense of fear and loss, and you can't work out where it comes from. I have had panic attacks in my sleep before. Usually it happens when I'm not paying attention and acknowledging the way I feel. You can't plow on through the work and ignore the distress you are feeling, because it catches up with you when you are not looking, even in your dreams. I'm ready for it this time.

I have to say goodbye to my job, the wonderful people I work with, the lifestyle I am used to (four years seems so long even though I know it isn't!) I'm moving on to something wonderful and exciting, but for a while I will be swimming in the darkness before I work out where I am and manage to find my way. There is no way I'm going to turn back from this.

I hope it will help to have some concrete things around to ease the transition period - I have bought a few textbooks, am getting my stationery sorted, have started revising anatomy, as well as being sensible with money like we will have to be in the next four years. I'm trying to ease into the student lifestyle over the period of a few weeks. Hopefully it will make the shock a little less brutal.

I can only imagine how tough it must be for those people who have to move to study medicine, particularly if they are leaving an established career, group of friends, family and home. That is a big list of things to grieve for. I know a number of good people who don't know yet whether they are studying medicine next year. Which means they may have less than a month and a half to resign, move and establish themselves in a new city. That would be one of the most distressing things I could think of going through right about now, and it is so cruel that they are on the receiving end of what seems to be such a cold and thoughtless process. Some of these people have to move their whole families.  My heart goes out to them.

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