Wednesday, 16 February 2011


Yesterday I was invited on to LBC Radio to talk with the presenter, Nick Ferrari about a story in the news to do with endings. The story in question was the 38 armed forces personnel who were told they were being made redundant by email. We discussed the brutality of such a method - a clerical error, the army, admits - and also ways in which the redundancy conversation can go better.

In our lives we talk often about a 'good enough ending'/ Patients in therapy hope to achieve it, especially if in their lives other endings have been messy or traumatic. We speak of wanting a 'good death', by which we mean without pain or suffering, perhaps surrounded by loved ones, or even in our sleep. But even vague endings, like the end of a pleasant evening out with friends, can mobilise in us a wobble about how to do the ending. We make promises about calling soon, we must do this again, I'll email you. We can't bear the end without making some attempt to confirm future meetings.

This is because human beings hate endings. They remind us of death. Redundancy is one such ending - which might explain why we have created so many euphemisms (letting go, downsizing) for what in effect is the end of a job, the end for some people of a career, and certainly the end of a phase in someone's life. When your identity is bound up in your job, this ending can deal a severe blow to your self-esteem.

Identify the hidden endings in your life, in your day. Accept them for what they are, and find space to acknowledge the end - to mourn them, even - even if it's just the end of a successful meeting. And remember that creating balance in your life will help mitigate those moments when something, big or small, comes to an end.

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