After Loss: Do We Ever Return to ‘Normal’?


Often during the grief journey, I wondered if a normal life could be obtained again.  Of course, there is a big assumption here that I had a normal life to begin with.  So, considering that we all come from skewed visions of what normal is, my definition was being married, having kids, working at one job my whole life and rocking in the chair on the porch next to the one that I married when I was 21.  Okay, it does seem a little Beaver Cleaver.  But really, normal is something that we all come at from different points of view.

My normal question was: Could it be possible given the harshness of death, grieving, and recovery, to expect anything resembling the normal that was in my first life?  Obviously, the real answer is no.  But my naïve and protective shield that I was building around me provided the hope that would help lead me out of the grayness.

Here is my analysis of this normal.  It is perfectly normal to expect the normal to continue, but as you move through the grief process, know that normal will show itself as you progress through the time line of your life, meet new people along the way and find that you are in a new place.  None of it is bad, but it will be different.  It is all perfectly good, and the new normal will probably surprise you because you never thought that you would survive.

It is hard when you are in the trenches to think that your life will ever be normal again, but I believe for most of us we crave this new normal even if it looks different.  We don’t like to stand out in a crowd so to speak and be seen as different or that we just can’t seem to get it together based on expectation of society.

My real opinion of society is we need to find our new normal on our own time and in our own way, and really shouldn’t be concerned about everyone else’s perception of what normal for us should look like.  I am pretty sure that you wouldn’t wish the grief process on anyone.  But, the reality is that we are all going to go through this at one point or another which makes it almost a learning lesson that you can pass on once you get grounded in your own new normal.

None of this is easy.  It is almost impossible to rationally think about this in the beginning stages of grief.  But slowly, for most people a point in time comes into view around that corner that you could never see before.  You start thinking differently about that road up ahead and have just the slightest twinge of hope that there really could be a normal that you could live with and incorporate into an resemblance of a life. You accept that it will never be the same but the realization comes to you that it doesn’t have to be the same.  You only assumed that your life had to remain the same, but guess what?  There are many endings to a movie that will get you to the same place.

Why not let it fall into place and allow yourself the moment of taking in a new breath that doesn’t require the angst of worrying about how you are going to pull this off?  Take that breath and know that there are many endings to a story and that you don’t have to just have one ending.  Enjoy the new normal as it unfolds and just watch the way your breathing returns to normal.

~Mike Russell

Mike Russell

More Articles Written by Mike

Having grown up in the Air Force in the 50's and 60's, I was able to travel with my family around the world to various bases which opened my mind to the issues affecting people. I grew up in Arizona after my dad retired. I got married in 1975 and was married for 34 years, during which I graduated from Oregon State University and went to work in banking. After the death of my wife in 2009, and through the opening up of my senses during the grief process, I wrote poetry, created a blog, wrote a book and reconnected with my best friend. We created a business called T Michael Healing Arts in Beaverton Oregon after being married. As a business, we serve the Holistic crowd, put on classes, and workshops, as well as attend various fairs around the Northwest. We have two books out at the moment, and contribute monthly articles to the Sedona Journal of Emergence. My journey in grief through all the deaths in my own family has brought me to the point where I became a certified grief counselor, minister, and have written a book on my spiritual journey through grief, as well as many articles on the subject. My goal is to help as many people as possible through their own grief journeys by telling them my story and supporting them with the hope that there are others out there that will support and understand them, and that it is possible to come out of the fog in one piece.

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