Ask Ted: Transitions to new life mean dealing with grief, change


Dear Ted: I graduated this spring and it was awesome. I was happy, my family is still proud and happy, and I felt great. Lately, I have felt kind of sad and out of place and can't figure out what is going on, as I am excited about college and stepping into a larger world. I am surprised that these sad feelings are here, as I was feeling excited and grateful. What are your thoughts on this? Thanks, The Graduate

Dear Graduate, Congratulations on graduating, as well as acknowledging your feelings presently. It would be nice if we could control our emotions and feel a certain way. There is no "should" in our emotional world. We do not get to control what emotions arise, but we do get to decide what we do with those emotions. Emotions are emotions and you can let them run your outer world with fear, guilt, blame, anger, revenge and any other actions - or you can feel the emotion, identify it and then choose what action is appropriate from a conscious loving place. I promise this will lead to better outcomes in the long run.

Your issue of being surprised that feelings of sadness have snuck in during a time of joy and celebration is normal. You have just graduated and you are getting ready to head off to college. This means the "historical you" has changed, leading to the grief process of redefining yourself into this new place in your life. People may call this a "gateway" or "rite of passage." A rite of passage is the recognition of someone significantly changing and leaving one realm of life as they move into another. This would mean that how you have previously defined yourself has changed and the new definition of you is forming. This is the grief process, as it involves redefining yourself and mourning certain aspects of the previous you. As a result, you are in a state of flux presently, and the grief process may be intensified as your new life is still unfolding, which means the new definition of you has not started to become familiar in your world.

I like to think of these times in life as a chance to pause and honor all aspects of your history - the good, the victories, the bad, the defeats and all the experiences that make you who you are today while bringing wisdom to your next actions as you manifest your future one day at a time and step into the newer version of yourself.

Many people confuse melancholy as sad or bad rather than a feeling where you pause and honor the past while releasing yourself from being confined and defined by how you have portrayed yourself historically. Pausing and honoring your present situation, feeling your emotions and gleaning wisdom from the past will help you in the present, allowing for maturity and strength as you move into this next phase of your life. Blessings on that path, and may you continue this consciousness as you redefine who you are becoming. Thank you for the question. I wish you well. Until next week, take care.

Golden Willow Retreat is a nonprofit organization focused on emotional healing and recovery from any type of loss. Direct any questions to Wiard, founder of Golden Willow Retreat, at (575) 776-2024 or

This column seeks to help educate our community about emotional healing through grief. People may write questions to Golden Willow Retreat and they will be answered privately to you and possibly as a future article for others. Please list a first name that grants permission for printing.