The New Normal

The new normal? Of course I had not heard this phrase until after Tim died. It was then that it popped up a lot. I started to cringe every time I would run across it. Wasn't the death of my son enough? Now I had to learn to live a new life. Understand the world in a new way. No!!!! I did not want this. Once again, I had no choice. It had already started the moment he died.

No matter our age or circumstances, we are use to who we are. We may confuse even ourselves now and then but still, we know who we are, what generally makes us tick. Most changes in our lives happen over periods of time so slowly, we really don' notice the changes. Some happen a little quicker but we handle it, it is no big deal. When tragedy strikes, all bets are off.  The change is so sudden and so violent that we go into shock, a deep freeze of the mind that refuses to budge from what we once knew. So now, as well as grieving for our lost loved one, we are essentially grieving for the loss of ourselves as well. This change is so new and overwhelming that we perceive it as dying inside. We see it as our heart and soul has gone with those we lost and we will never recover them, never. The new normal, sucks to put it mildy.

We go through many losses in our lives, from pets to grandparents, parents, brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, children and the list goes on and on. Some we adjust to and we change a little. The cycle of life. Then there comes that one or two or three, that devastate you so much, everything loses meaning. You have no purpose when the ones you lived for have gone on without you. Anger at being left behind becomes a part of your inner make up. Sorrow is the emotion for that day. Almost every emotion you have is on the highest volume and stays there, alternating and sometimes existing at the same time. The music has died, beauty in the world has gone dim. Everything is new and different and no, you do not want it. Any of it. It would be easy to step out, cancel your life, let it all go. It would be easy to stay in that state of shock and disbelief. So hard, so demanding to step outside of the new circle that has been drawn in the sand. So hard to open your heart because the next heartache is just around the corner, maybe moments away.

When Tim died, the way he died, the reason he died, I had a moment when I wished I had never loved him, never had children because the pain was so intense, so hard to bear. What if I lost my daughter too, my grandbabies? I raged at every thing that moved because it could move and he could not. Bright days of sunlight were dark. I could not stand to hear music, laughter, voices. I now lived on a alien planet and the inhabitants could not see me, could not know my pain, could not help me. That is aloneness, when you think you are invisible to the new world you landed in. Their death becomes all about you, how could it not? After all, you are the one left behind to deal with the pain, the questions, the newness. Will the weight of all of this ever lift from your shoulders? Yes, it will, but it is up to you to help throw it off. I am not sorry I loved my son the way I do. My daughter and grandbabies. I am glad I have that experience. I am grateful to have them all. Through all the pain and tears, one thing remains bright. Tim loved me as his mom. It does not matter how he left, he loved me and I knew that. I would not have missed that for anything.

I now have to learn a new way of life. A life without my only son. The beauty is slowly leaking back into the world, the music is tuning up. It is still early days, dark days yet, but I have to find my way. Memories still hurt. They won't always though.

Frankly, the new normal scares the crap right out of me. At first, I questioned my purpose. Why be in this world? What purpose if the ones I lived for die? I have quit questioning and looking for it though. I figure that if there is a purpose it with either make itself known or happen without my awareness, either way, there is no reason to chase after it. I don't believe that everything happens for a reason, but I figure most things do. I don't need to search out the reasons for it all though. It is hard enough learning to live again without constantly adding new fears and questions to the mix. The new me is a stranger.

For a while, I lost my compassion, my pity, my 'give a crap'. Why should I care about others pain when my own was so terrible? I think now, that by caring about others, you find yourself. By helping others along this rocky, vast landscape you are helping yourself. By stepping outside your own pain, eases your pain. No, it does not totally go away, how I wish that were different, but it is not. I think in time, it morphs into other, new, different things. If there is no one to understand your journey, then you are truly alone. It is sad that others share what you have and are going through, but they are needed as much as breathing is.

It is hard to be kind to yourself when you allow guilt to worm its way in. Always the 'what if's', 'what could I have done different." So many questions that are hard to let go. But let them go, you must. This pain may never leave but it will change if I allow it to. It will find its own purpose. I am grateful and yes a little embarrassed when someone tells me that my words help them. I think the embarrassment comes because I want to help, but all I feel I do is write words about a path that many are taking. What do I know? I am not an expert. I am just a mom cringing at a new normal.

About the Author

My name is Barbara Mason. My son, Tim left this world on January 5th 2014 at the age of 34. I have lost many, including my Dad and Mom and have never felt the pain and grief that this loss brought. Every day can be a struggle with no hope for relief from the horror in sight. The only thing that would help was an impossible wish, to have my boy back again. I started writing about Tim and this new life and found some comfort and hope to give comfort to others.

Helping The Bereaved