NORMAL is deciding what to take to the cemetery, altar or memory plot during holidays and special occasions and ways you can still celebrate your child.
NORMAL is feeling like you know how to act and may be more comfortable with a funeral than a wedding or a birthday party. Yet, feeling a stab of pain in your heart when you smell the flowers, see the casket, and hear the crying people.
NORMAL is feeling like you can’t sit through another minute of a spiritual service without screaming because you just don’t like to attend it anymore And yet at the same time you may feel like you have more faith in God or a higher power than you ever had before.
NORMAL is having tears waiting behind every smile when you realize someone important is missing from all the important events in your family’s life, but still able to smile and know those tears represent a powerful love.
NORMAL is not sleeping because a thousand “what ifs” go through your head constantly, but allowing yourself to rest when you are able to because you’ve learned that respecting your health and mental wellness is part of respecting your child’s memory.
NORMAL is having the TV on the minute you walk into the house to have some “noise” because the silence is deafening.
NORMAL is telling the story of your child’s death as if it were an everyday common event and then gasping in horror at how awful it sounds. And yet realizing it has become part of normal conversation.
NORMAL is each year coming up with the difficult task of how to honor your child’s memory and their birthday and surviving those days. And trying to find a balloon or flag that fits the occasion, “Happy Birthday”? Not really… but learning to make it a happy memory is becoming “normal,” in your life.
NORMAL is a new friendship with another bereaved parent and meeting over coffee and talking and crying together over your children and worrying together over the surviving children.
NORMAL is being too tired to care if you paid your bills, cleaned your house, did the laundry, or if there is food in the house.
NORMAL is wondering this time whether you are going to say you have 4 or 5 children because you will never see this person again and is it worth explaining that one of them has passed away. And yet, when you say 4 children to avoid the problem, you feel horrible as if you have betrayed your child.
NORMAL is hiding all the things that have become “normal” for you to feel, so that everyone around you will think you are “NORMAL.”
There is no such thing as “NORMAL” but normal MAY be these things for you. Getting back to a healthy routine in your life is your own normalcy. It may be that some of the situations above sound familiar or resonate with you, or maybe you are experiencing your own new unique healing rituals or activities.
Remember that your NORMAL now will never be the same as it was, but that does not mean it cannot be positive. Accepting the reality and allowing yourself to experience the pain of your loss is now part of your normal, but it is a healthy step on your road to healing through the grief.
Bonnano, G. et al., Resilience to loss and chronic grief: A prospective study from pre-bereavement to 18 months post-loss. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2002.
Gilbert, K., Couple coping with the death of a child, In: Death and trauma, C. Figley, editor; B. Bride, editor; and N. Mazza, editor. , Editors. 1997. Washington, D.C.: Taylor & Francis. Pp.101–121.
Sanders, C., Grief: The mourning after. 1989. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Stroebe, M. and H. Schutt, Models of coping with bereavement: A review, In: Hand book of bereavement research, M. Stroebe, editor. et al., Editors. 2001. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association. Pp.375–403.