Laurie Swanson Blog

Grieving Before Leaving: A Helpful Career Change Tip

A weird thing started happening in July.

I was waking up most mornings feeling sad. Sometimes on the verge of tears. 

At first, I was not sure what was going on. When I looked at the current circumstances it did not make sense. Work was a good busy. The kids and husband were doing great. My garden was producing really nice tasting veggies. No major house maintenance projects were lurking on the horizon. I chalked it up to hormones but even that did not seem right. 

Then I had an ah-ha moment. 

Unique for me this year was that 
both my kids would be away at college for the first time. It was hard when my son left but nothing like what I had been feeling starting in July. That is why I could not pinpoint what was going on. I had not felt this way before. 

What I had been feeling was grief. 

And once I figured that out, I let myself grieve. 


Grieving Before Leaving

Recently, a friend stopped by in tears. 

She was moving in a week and all of a sudden it had become real.  

She had lived here for years. She had family here, friends here, memories here. Yet her dream for a decade had been to move to the mountains. That is what she talked about when she talked about what her future looked like. She had been planning this. Waiting for her kids to reach a certain age and then she was ready. 

So, why was she feeling torn apart just days before making her dream come true?  


The difference between myself and my friend is that I had done my grieving before my kids were leaving. I had been grieving since July. When mid-August came I was ready. I could be with my kids in their transition and feel their excitement without letting my own sadness about their leaving get in the way. I’m not saying I did not feel sad but I was not overwhelmed by it. I walked down Green Street with my daughter the day we dropped her off at school and was so happy for her. 

What I realized while talking with my friend is that she had not done her grieving before leaving. 

She probably had been feeling the grief for weeks, if not months, before this but had not acknowledged it. She acted on top of what was going on underneath. 

And then she melted down. She had not given herself time to say goodbye. 


Endings Do Not Always Feel Like New Beginnings

An ending is a new beginning is a quote I have seen many times on Facebook. 

It’s just that it does not always feel like that. 

Sometimes it feels like your heart is being ripped from your chest. 

Or sometimes, if you do not acknowledge the ending, it can keep you from creating the new beginning all. 

Subconsciously avoiding the grief that comes with endings by staying put.  

It can keep you from going after what you have been dreaming about…like that job in an industry you are passionate about or that one that is closer to home. 

It can keep you from moving forward.

Or you can recognize what is happening and grieve before you leave. 


Try This

Let’s say you have a career dream.

Write it down. 

Now imagine what it will be like to say goodbye to the job you have now. 

Imagine what it will be like to take a different way to work. 

Imagine what it will be like to give notice. 

Imagine what 
your last day at work might be like. 

Allow yourself to really FEEL what you are imagining. 

There may be lots of joy and excitement but in this exercise I want you to focus on the sad parts. 

Focus on the one friend who you walk with at lunch and how you will miss her. 

Focus on the annual company outing that you have helped plan for the last 5 years and what it means to no longer be a part of that. 

Focus on that park you walk by on the way to work and how it always makes you feel peaceful. 

As you go to the office over the next few days really pay attention to everything and everyone.  

Imagine what it will mean to say goodbye to this stage of your life. 

Feel it and then begin to let the joy and excitement about what’s next move back in. 

You can start to take folks to lunch that you have not connected with in a long time. 

You can make sure and eat at your favorite spots. 

And you can be ready to make the changes that you have been yearning for knowing that you may feel sad but mainly you will feel ready for the next adventure.   
If you are ready to say goodbye with intention and then hello with anticipation to your next career then email me,

Laurie Swanson, Career Strategist

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