"New Normal" A term that a person who has experienced loss hears quite often. And frankly, a term that they don't want to hear. Someone experiencing grief doesn't want a New Normal, they want their loved one back. After such a loss, they feel they will never be or experience Normal again.
The first year after losing someone close to you is incredibly difficult. Correction... seemingly impossible. For me, I lost my son, My Boy. He was only 16. You experience the shock, the stages of grief, and the extreme, never-ending pain. You sleep A LOT (or not enough), cry, scream, and beg God to please just stop the pain and bring your loved one back. You feel lost and completely detached from reality. You experience the first birthday and holidays without them. And each month that passes is even harder than the last. Then the big one, the one year anniversary of their passing. It feels like a giant mountain to get over, its obstacles full of anxiety, sadness and pain. But you know what was surprising for me? The relief I felt that day. I survived the first year. And that was when I knew I had to make a choice. I can let grief consume me, or I can LIVE.
Choosing to live your life after a loved one dies comes with a lot of guilt. If I move forward with my life am I dishonoring them and their memory? These feelings of guilt can keep us trapped in grief. Honoring YOURSELF is necessary in moving toward Normal. So how does one do this?
Grief is a very personal journey, but one that requires support (not optional here folks). Support can come from a grief support group, a therapist or doctor, or possibly a Life Coach or Pastor at a church. Alternative Healing methods are also very beneficial. In my case, I chose not to take any anti-depressants as we are a very holistic family, so I worked with a wonderful Life Coach (Chemory Gunko www.lifecoachestoolbox.com), and a very generous friend and Acupuncturist who gifted My Girl and I many sessions. (Jennie Luther www.familytreeacuwell.com)
Also, connect with the people who knew your loved one best. Together you can tell stories, make a space for your lost one while watching a movie that they loved, tell stories, laugh and cry, and share your deepest thoughts and emotions surrounding the loss. My Mom was there for everything when My Boy was alive and together we were truly able to understand the reason for his death. And My Girl and I talk about him anytime a funny memory comes up, or just how sucky some days are without him.
Honor the difficult days, because there will still be lots of them. Recognize when you need to take a break. Be alone with the sadness and really FEEL it. It's a wave and it will pass, but you have to ride it. On those days, practice a little self care. Take a salt and lavender essential oil bath, indulge in a favorite book, movie or binge watch Netflix.(Preferably something that will actually make you cry, our goal here is to be in the pain until is passes.) Treat yourself with favorite foods or tea. And if you have fur babies, love on them like crazy.
After the one year mark I also made the choice to establish a routine again. This seemed to accelerate my healing. No more sleeping odd hours and just surviving each day with no direction. I started with baby steps. Just getting out of bed and drinking a glass of water was huge! Now I have a morning routine (water, food, a little exercise), then I focus on work for a bit. I cook dinner again, and enjoy the evenings with My Girl and my boyfriend. I read again before bed (I couldn't focus enough to read for an entire year). And I actually fall asleep at a decent hour. My Girl also has a typical teenage girl routine. School, sports, friends, homework, and, yes, boys. All Normal!
My biggest challenge through this has been with identity. This is a common obstacle while grieving. My Boy, my children, were my life, my work, my identity. I was Mom. Now who am I? Well, I'm still Mom and always will be, but it is no longer wrapped up in the grief around My Boy. I focus on My Girl, and am more at ease knowing I transfer my nurturing nature to my clients as a healer. Making that choice has opened up the freedom of Normal.
After losing My Boy, I never thought life would feel Normal again, but here I am. Normal is a choice, one I didn't even realize I had. I think of My Boy every single day, I still talk to him often, and I gently touch his photo each time I pass it in the hallway. But I've chosen to do more than survive, I choose to thrive. Recently someone asked me, "What has changed? Your energy is completely different." "Honestly, I don't know," I said. "I just feel Normal again."
Love and Light