The Bittersweetness of Transitions

Big life transitions are bittersweet, as we close one chapter and begin another. It’s important to leave room for grief, joy, and everything in between. 

A lot of us are going through major transitions right now: moving to new locations, changing jobs or relationship status, having kids, or going through losses or health challenges. Many of us are shifting into a new phase in our lives or re-evaluating our priorities due to the pandemic.

The bittersweet nature of many of these transitions has been on our minds lately for a variety of reasons. Melia and her family just moved from Jackson, MS to the Albany, NY area, away from many people and places they love. We recorded this episode together in person at our childhood home in Sonoma, CA, before our parents put the house on the market and move closer to us both.

We draw upon Susan Cain’s beautiful book, Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole, as we cope with feelings of grief for what’s ending mixed with anticipation for what’s ahead. We share how we are embracing the bittersweet and, as always, feeling it all.

Listener Takeaways

Here are some of the ways we have been trying to embrace the bittersweet – and we hope they are helpful for you too: 

  1. Take a memory walk. Go for a walk around your house, neighborhood, city, school, etc. to mark the transition and reflect on your experiences there. You can journal, take pictures or record videos or voice memos to capture memories as you go. 
  1. Open up the space to feel all the feelings. Be extra gentle with yourself while you’re going through a transition and expect different emotions to come in waves. Acknowledge that this is hard and sad right now – even if you know there’s something positive on the other end.
  1. Plan goodbye events or rituals. Find meaningful ways that help you mark the closing of this chapter. 
  1. Think of things to look forward to on the other side. Make a wish list or concrete plans for when you make it through the difficult parts of this transition and you can start the next chapter.  

Get In Touch

When do you tend to feel bittersweet? What are some ways that embracing bittersweetness helps you through transitions? 

Tell us at podcast@semitogether.com or send us a voice memo.

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Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole, by Susan Cain

Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience, by Brené Brown

Unlocking Us: Brené with Susan Cain on How Sorrow & Longing Make Us Whole, Part 1

Unlocking Us: Brené with Susan Cain on How Sorrow & Longing Make Us Whole, Part 2