How Do We Find our “New Normal” Following Child Loss?
Following the loss of a child, we become familiar with the term “new normal.” We read it in books, and we hear the term in grief classes we attend, from our Pastor, and many times we hear the words “new normal” from our doctor. When I became a bereaved mom, the words “new normal” were words I held onto tightly. Why? Because any kind of normal following the loss of a child would feel good! When child loss take place, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — that feels normal anymore! I’ve been a bereaved mom for over forty years now. My first loss was due to miscarriage. I also delivered a stillborn baby boy, my sweet Samuel. And, most recently, one of my adult sons died very suddenly and left me once again feeling broken to the very core of my soul. I’ve had to find my “new normal” several times over, now, and I am here to tell you that there is nothing easy about that. In fact, without doubt, it’s the most difficult thing you will ever have to do. Why? Because when your child died, part of you died, too. I know that my heart carries an ache within in with every breath I take. That doesn’t mean that all joy has forever been banned from my life. What it does mean is you will never be the same person you were before your child died.
Many times parents who have lost a child are so afraid to smile again. We’re afraid that if we feel even a momentary, fleeting joy that we are somehow being disrespectful to our child or that we’re in some way diminishing what our child means to us. That is far, far from the truth!
We are on a journey — a journey of grief. And, this is not an easy journey. We don’t have a map that gives clear directions. Nor do we have a guidebook that tells us where the best places are to stop and rest. And, we certainly don’t have a map that gives us signs for all of the detours and dangerous roads that we will be traveling on this journey. We’re on this journey and we have to learn to take it day-by-day, quite often minute-by-minute. It’s hard to breathe when our heart is pounding with pain every second of the day!
At some point, though, we are faced with a critical crossroads in our lives. We can choose to stay submerged in deep, inconsolable grief for all the remaining days of our lives, or we can search for new meaning in our lives while still honoring and validating the sacredness of the miracle of life our child was to us. And, I know without doubt that our child would want us to choose the path of finding a “new normal.”
I wish I could say that there are five clearly outlined steps to finding your new normal, but you and I know that it’s not that easy. This search continues for a lifetime — at least that is how it is proving to be for me. I will always have my days where I will cry out in pain and revert back to the “if only”, “why my son?”, “why now?”, and “why can’t life go back to how it was before?”. But, I have determined in my heart that I must — I absolutely must — find my pathway to my “new normal” because I know that both of my sons who are now sitting in the wonder and beauty of heaven would want their mom to know joy again. I know they would want me to appreciate life. I know that they want me to feel some peace in my life again. I know they would not want me to be paralyzed all of the days of my life by grief.
I hope these few words from deep within my heart and soul will help you to find a bit of comfort as you are searching for your “new normal.”
Every day I grieve the losses in my life. Oh, how I wish that my life, like yours, never knew such pain! But, while waiting for that wonderful day when we meet our children in heaven, it’s important for us to experience some hope and a bit of inner peace and joy, too.
May God bless all who visit this site. I pray that as we walk this journey of grieve together, we will find a place that is more gentle in our grief — our “new normal.”
My love to all,
Author of Child Loss – the Heartbreak and the Hope
For me this is the “new normal”. The pain and the grief never leaves me. It is constantly in the background of every thought I have or action I take. I do not “know” how to get to the “new normal” that people speak of.
Karen, It’s so hard to see anything but dark clouds for such a long, long time. A broken heart never totally mends and the “new normal” is so different for everyone. I hope and pray that one day there will be moments where your life will feel the gentleness of living rather than the constant throb of pain. For me, I have to “force” myself to see the sunshine most days, but it does help. My new normal is far, far different from the old me. My special thoughts are with you. Thank you so much for your comment.
I don’t know what I would without your Silent Grief. I feel like you are writing to me personally. My daughter passed away 7-13-13 from an asthma attack. Her husband found her with her nebulizer in her hand. She was 48. I keep hearing, but at least you had her for 48 years. It’s time to move on. I miss her all the time. So many things remind of her. My faith is strong and I believe God will help me through this. But it hurts so bad.
Donna, I’m so very sorry to hear of the loss of your daughter. My sister died at age thirteen from an asthma attack, so I can share just a bit in the pain you are feeling right now. Please know that my special thoughts are with you, and most definitely my prayers are with you. I’m so very, very sorry that you’re on this terribly difficult journey of loss. My love to you. I hope in time your grief will become more gentle.
In May it will be 13 years since my adult son was murdered. I have found the intense grief to become gentler over time. My new normal: I can feel joy and appreciate aspects of my life. The sadness often hides,the missing continues… I’m adding my prayers for all who are on this difficult journey.
Jean, I’m so glad that your shared this with us. I appreciate so much you saying “the sadness often hides, the missing continues.” That is a dose of hope for all of us! Thank you!