It is hard to understand – grief – until it happens to you. People don’t really get it. Our society has taught us that grief is something that we can just get over. We are taught that we must just get back to a normal life, be the same person we have always been.
When our person dies, though, what we know as normal is gone. When, for example, it is normal for us to phone our mom every morning and our mom has died, that normal is gone. When it is normal for us to have our morning coffee with our spouse, that normal is gone. When it is normal for us to go for a walk with our friend, that normal is gone. When we lose a family member and our life has been built on being around them and sharing conversations, that normal is gone. Those conversations become so much more significant.
Even as I write, I realize that I am missing the mark. I haven’t quite described the experience. Our person lives on inside of us; they never are “gone,” AND our life has changed dramatically.
One woman said to me, “I hate it when someone talks about “getting back to normal”; there is no normal anymore.
Another said, “I am grieving the loss of my son, and I am grieving the loss of myself. I am different now, and so everything is different. I miss me before this happened. “
Friends, well-meaning people will want you to be the same as you were. They don’t understand that everything is different now and so you will be different.
This learning how life is different is painful, and it takes time. It takes time because we don’t want our life to be different. We long for our person. We long for that connection – that walk, or phone call, or morning coffee. We long for those conversations that filled up our days and so filled up our life.
It can feel like one step forward and two steps back. It can feel like you are okay, and then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, a wave rolls over you. It can feel like a great day full of energy, and then the next, you can hardly get out of bed.
Our friends, well-meaning people, well they just do not understand this. They can’t because there is nothing like the experience of grief, and they do not want to because it frightens them, and they want you as you once were back.
Our loved one fills a space in our world that will never be replaced. How we move through our day has to be different now. Our “normal” has to change.