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The next chapter

By Nathan Rice

My heart was heavy as I examined the toys and games that were spread throughout my living room floor. I placed items to be donated in one area and items to be thrown away in another. I knew these things were no longer needed, but it didn’t make the process of cleaning them out any easier. My volunteer work with kids and youth had been a big part of my life for the last 15 or so years, but the organization I worked for in this area closed. Therefore, this chapter in my life closed as well. Memories flooded my mind, and I knew I was going to miss these times.

It can be difficult when a chapter in life closes or a significant part of life is lost. While it may not be easy, there are some things we can do to help ourselves as we turn the page from one chapter in life to the next.

First, we must realize that it’s OK to mourn the loss of something. Most know the grief process when a loved one is lost, but we don’t often equate the loss of something important to us with a time of grief. We should expect a time of adjustment that may not be easy. It will be different than mourning the loss of a person, but we may experience many of the same emotions. As with all grief, it will be important to go through the process in order to heal and move forward.

Next, we should remain grateful for the good times during that chapter in life. Anyone who has experienced loss knows that part of grief is reflection and being thankful for the time that we were given. While this is, again, different from the loss of a person, we should be grateful for the time we had in the chapter of life that has closed.

Lastly, we shouldn’t allow the closing of one chapter in life to be the end of our story. Taking time to remember the closed chapter can be healthy and contribute to healing, but we can’t live in a portion of life that has come to an end. Refusing to enter into the next chapter in life stifles what lies ahead and can block another chapter that has the potential to bring good times as well. It’s OK to love and remember a chapter in life, but it’s harmful to stay there once it has closed.

I’m not sure what the title will be for the next chapter in my life. I am unsure if I will be given another opportunity to work with young people in a different format or if the next chapter in my life will look totally different.

When one chapter ends and another begins, let’s be grateful for what we had, mourn what was lost, and move forward into the next phase one step at a time.

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at nrice@abnb.org.