The “reality’ that is left behind in all endings is not just a picture on the wall. It is a sense of which way is up and which way is down; it is a sense of which way is forward and which way is back. It is, in short, a way of orienting oneself and of moving forward into the future. In the old passage rituals, the one in transition would often be taken into unfamiliar territory, beyond the bounds of former experience, and left there for a time. All the customary signs of location would be gone, and the only remaining source of orientation would be the heavens. In such a setting and the state of mind it was meant to create, you would be (in the word’s of Robert Frost) “lost enough to find yourself.”

As with other aspects of the ending process, most of us already know disorientation. We recognize the lost, confused, don’t-know-where-I-am felling that deepens as we become disengaged, disidentified and disenchanted. The old sense of life as “going somewhere” breaks down, and we feel like shipwrecked sailors.

William Bridges, Transitions