Grieving the Loss

In graduate school, we talked a lot about life cycle changes, like births, deaths, divorce, marriage, kids leaving the nest, etc. and how to help individuals and families navigate them. During one discussion, the idea was brought up that people transition more smoothly when there is a celebration connected with the change and I think that is true. I am a big fan of celebrations in general and so the idea of turning such pivotal changes into a party is right up my alley.

Today marks a pretty pivotal moment in my life. A life cycle change that once was a rarity is now a growing phenomenon in my religious culture.

I am "aging out" of the singles ward.

Today was the last Sunday of my official membership in the young single adult community of the Church and I am now officially a "mid-single", which I believe marks my entrance into "middle-age" and I can officially have a "mid-life crisis" --not that I plan on have on having a crisis or anything, but I guess by definition, they aren't necessarily planned.

During the meetings today, I made a list of the things I will miss about attending a singles ward (oh, to clarify, I could technically continue my life in a singles ward, but it's a "mid-singles" ward, which means I could be "single" with people my parents' ages and go to church and I don't know, but that just seems weird to me, so I will choose to attend a family ward).

I will miss the reverent quiet during the meetings. There are rarely children in those meetings and I will miss being able to focus on the speakers instead of being distracted by babies screaming or infants throwing their toys at me and thinking it's a fun game or toddlers making weird noises with their mouths and thinking they are funny, all while their parents ignore them or just toss more toys/books/puzzles at them and pretend like it's not a big deal that their kid is causing such a ruckus.

I will miss having every lesson/talk geared and catered to people who are generally in the same phase of life as I am.

I will miss being looked up to as "matriarchal" and as a "wise woman". Back to the bottom of the totem pole I go. It's kind of like leaving middle school to go to high school.

I will miss opportunities to serve in unique capacities--like linger-longer committee member and break-the-fast co-chair, and dating committee council (I never really had any of those callings, but I'm sure I could have).

But really, as I look back on this closing chapter of my life, these last 13 years have been great! I have been blessed with so many opportunities to learn and grow, as a teacher and a student, as a leader and a follower. I never expected this transition to be sad or difficult because I'm a big talker who likes to pretend to think that singles wards are ridiculous and should be done away with, but it is sad and a little difficult and I now can admit that I loved the years I spent in singles wards. I have met so many people that I never would have otherwise. I have rubbed shoulders with the future leaders of the Church, I do not doubt it. I feel so lucky to have had the experiences that I had as a young single adult.


Maybe I expected that I wouldn't have to "age out" or rather "age back in" to the family ward, but that I would be forced back into it because I would be a family (aka: "married"). But, if I have learned anything from 13 years of my young single adult life, it is that life is unexpected.

Looking forward to this next phase of life--turning 31, attending a family ward again--I am sure there are many things to look forward to. Different, unique opportunities to serve; lessons in patience and compassion and focus to learn; being mentored by the more experienced and seasoned; the chance to be faced with the "evidence" that marriages happen--they are not just a myth or some strange, surreal idea that happens after one gets "engaged". Maybe all of these things will be good for me.

As part of the grieving/celebration process I made chocolate peanut butter mousse filled cupcakes with chocolate ganache frosting. Don't worry, they were made with tofu and agave nectar and had no refined sugars, zero calories and zero fat. Maybe the last two things were false, but they were vegan and "sugar-free" so I ate 2.5 of them. Like I said, I never thought this transition would be hard for me, but I have decided that I will need to give myself some time to grieve the loss of the singles ward, regardless of how great it will be to re-join the real world of the family ward.


... said...

Oh, I miss going to Single's Wards! I'm glad you had a celebration to commemorate this change in your life... well deserved (just wish I had been there to enjoy those delicious treats you made)!!

Anyways, hope the transition goes well!

Keepin' up with the Jones' said...

charity - you are going to be such a blessing to the family ward. think of the role model you could be for the primary children or the yw. or even the rs women. you will be able to serve in areas that are totally new and exciting. i don't doubt that it will be a hard transition, but like everything you do in life, i'm sure you will do it with grace and class.

Every person who has small kids said...

I am one of those parents who will ignore my kids throwing their toys on you. And when you have kids, you will appreciate how tough it is to bring your kids to church.

chari-o said...

fair enough,'s true that I don't know what it's like. but I can still hope that my kids will be better behaved.