Monday, July 23, 2007

Searching for a new identity?


Spring has just sprung upon us and with it some freshness in the air. The daffodils will soon be in bloom and we can savor the beauty of the flowers in our garden that we labour for. It is significant at this time of the year, many of us clean out our homes and surroundings in the traditional ‘spring cleaning’ fashion. Spring is a season for renewal. It is also noteworthy that Easter is celebrated at the beginning of spring. The Easter message is that of hope, life after death; an old thing becoming new. This Easter season we would like to offer you this message of hope in terms of a new identity after your loss.

If you have lost your spouse due to divorce you face a transition period in which your sense of identity is lost. If you lost a loved one to death, you enter a period of deep introspection when you question how you can live your life without that loved one. A significant part of you was lost and you never seem to be whole again. Your sense of identity is lost.

Who am I- the case of a lost identity /sense of identity?

Your loss brought so much devastation to you. For a long time you questioned who you really are. Your spouse left you and the kids to take on a different life. Over the years your family identity had been that of a double parent family with children living in the same house. That was shattered. Your social identity used to be linked to being the spouse of Mr. X. or Mrs. Y. That is no more the situation. In terms of community identity, your interaction with neighbours at home and members of the clubs you belong had changed- you do not seem to be the same person any more.
Your economic identity was based on the class of the income level that your double-income family (or significant single income) had procured. A nice family home with decent amenities, and adequate finances to meet your family needs were all part of the status quo. The status quo is no more a status quo. It had been destroyed.
If you were part of a mixed marriage, you must have taken some time to build up some unique combination of ethnic identity based on a mixture of yours and your former spouse’s. With the divorce or the death of your loved one, this unique ethnic identity was blown apart. A most significant part of your being is your spiritual self- the way you identify yourself with God your creator. Marriage is a spiritual union and as a spouse you might have learnt to see God and relate to Him through and with your former spouse. Your divorce or the death of your spouse involves loss of part of your spiritual self. Your sense of spiritual identity is lost

Discovering a new identity

Easter is a season of new hope. However, new hope is always difficult especially if you cling tenaciously to a former type of life that is no more real. For you to find a new identity or sense of identity, you need to come to terms with the fact that your old way of life is gone- things will never be exactly the same as they were when you had your former spouse.
The hope of Easter is the assurance that despite the fact that things cannot be the same as they used to be, you can actually have brightness in a NEW kind of life. You can discover a new social/community identity as you find new avenues for friendship and companionship. As you seek new ways of nurturing yourself, new opportunities for boosting your self-esteem and new avenues for expressing your self creatively, you can discover a new sense of identity. A new family identity may take a long time to form. However, you need to start seeing yourself in a new way in your different role as a single parent. Joining a faith community will go a long way in helping you discover a new spiritual identity.
Remember that discovery comes when your eyes are open to see them. Keep the eyes of your mind open. Recognize that you can actually come to enjoy a NEW way of life.

Embracing a new identity

For you to develop your new sense of identity, you need to embrace it. That requires spending some time in your newly discovered opportunities. You need to keep on developing those new avenues of friendship. You need to grip onto those new measures that boost your self-esteem. You need to give attention to those community involvements that support you in your role as a single parent. Hold on to your new ways of nurturing yourself. Hug those new opportunities.

Moving on with a new identity

The lesson of Easter is one of life after death. As you embrace your newly discovered identity, keep on walking in it. Allow the growth to take place. Do not stunt it. Enjoy your new sense of identity. The past cannot be re-written. However, you can fill this new slate of life that you have with writings of truly great and memorable things.

As you welcome the freshness in the air this spring season, take time to discover a bright new social, economic and spiritual identity in your circumstances. This Easter season, hold on to the hope of new life after death. Take courage to embrace and move on with your newly discovered identity!!!

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Dave Webster and Tolu Adeleye, authors and life-change experts, through their consultancy provide you and your clients with tools for dealing with life transitions. Their areas of expertise include family- and career-related transitions.
To get instant access to such tools, visit
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