If you live in the Chicago area, and if you shopped at Dominicks Foods, then you know that the recent closing of the Dominicks stores across the city and suburbs has caused a bit of an upset for shoppers. It has caused me to think about grocery stores – and change. And how sometimes things that seem like they should be a small event in our lives can surprise us.
Grocery shopping is a necessity, we all do it. And if you plan your meals ahead, you probably go to the store less often than I do. I’ve been going to Dominicks forever; my car seemed to go there in automatic pilot. Like so many others, I knew many of the employees; one in particular would ask about my family, another would tell me about recipes. It was a family-friendly sort of place.
I have been very interested in the amount of conversation the closing of Dominicks has generated among my friends and acquaintances. Around here we have MANY shopping options for groceries. This really should not be a hardship.
Why has this change been such a challenging one?
First, I think that our local Dominicks provided a sense of community for many people. I would often see a friend or acquaintance, and spend a few minutes catching up on the news before moving on. I would run into people I might not see otherwise. There was a social aspect to the many trips there to buy either a cartload of groceries, or just a few items for a new recipe. And their customer services policies and how they trained their employees added to that feeling of community.
And then there is our need to create routine and predictability in our busy, complicated lives. Going into a store where we knew where things were and what items they carried, means we didn’t have to think about it too much. Change can be good, because new, better or different things can take its place, but it can be disruptive because it means we have to work harder. The automaticity goes away and new brain patterns have to form. But ultimately, change helps us to be flexible, though it takes some practice to be good at it.
Part of dealing with change is deciding if and when we are ready, open and available to what the change might bring to us. That might not happen right away, it might take some time. And that is OK.
What are other changes that occur that can surprisingly throw us a curve? Maybe the road we usually take to work is under construction and we have to go another way. Or the person who cuts our hair leaves the salon we go to. (That’s big….). Or a winter like we have just endured has kept us from many of our regular activities, or perhaps left us stranded in an airport.
Then of course there are the really big, significant and sometimes scary changes like our spouse changing jobs, kids going off to college, a problem with a knee that means we can’t do the long distance running we have always done.
These changes take adjustments. The big ones can require us to go through some version of the stages of grief and loss (denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, acceptance).….until we are eventually open to a new way of being. We have to grieve the loss of what we previously had, and bit by bit, we see openings in our mind to consider a different path. We do get there, in time. And often with the help of supportive spouses, friends, and family who are empathic, and/or who have gone through something similar.
How do our kids process change? Actually, they go through the same stages of grief and loss, but often don’t have the access to the words that adults have. Children have a harder time identifying and labeling their emotions. They are more likely to “act it out” with uncharacteristic behavior, tantrums or regression. As adults, if there is change in our home, or a change specifically for a child, we have to gently coach our children through processing the change. We can help them to identify their feelings about the change and find more acceptable outlets for frustration. Once they have had a chance to process the loss, then we can help them to create a new plan.
In a world that is complicated, technology-driven, and too-many-choices-filled, some predictability is a good thing. But things change!! Perhaps, the closing of Dominick’s has been a small example of how change manifests itself in our lives. Even with grocery stores.