Will Things Ever Be Normal Again?
Last updated: September 2022
When you're in the midst of grief, you frequently wonder if you'll ever feel “normal” again. You may even question if there's any purpose to anything anymore.
It's a desolate, frightening place in which to suddenly find oneself. Regardless of how well-meant they are, expressions like, it'll get better, this too shall pass, and it just takes time, mean nothing.
How can we believe it will get better?
I'm not here to lay platitudes before you. I know all too well those words mean nothing when you need to hear them most.
How can we believe it'll get better as time passes when our days are filled with reminders that our loved one isn't coming back, and our night times pass at half the speed they used to?
After all the cards, flowers, visitors, and gifted meals stopped arriving at my door, the loneliness was, and still is to some degree, overwhelming.
Firsts come rushing in
I know people meant the very best, but I still hesitate to ask for help from all those who reached out to me immediately following my wife Lynette's passing from advanced breast cancer.
It's not their fault. Few people who tell us to call if we need anything know that's the one thing they can count on us not to do. The onus that's put on us to be the initiator is, in many ways, too difficult.
Even fewer realize that grief grows worse, not better when you begin to face all the firsts that come rushing in. This is my first time alone in this restaurant, this is my first holiday without them, etc.
Sometimes I wonder, if I responded to someone who told me to call when I needed something, would they feel shocked, embarrassed, or off-put? I know the answer, of course. They would leap to help me, each and every one of them.
But it's a year later, and I still can't bring myself to call on them. This isn't a good thing, I know, but I keep thinking everything will return to normal any day now.
I'm working on these things, but asking for help still is a huge problem for me.
Another day, another dragon
Just coming out of the first year since my wife's passing, I'm experiencing good days more often, more nights of good sleep, and more frequent cheerful moods. I'm not fooling myself, however.
I've heard that the second year has its own share of emotional changes. I've built up a lot more strength and resiliency over the past year, however, and I believe I can pass the tests that lie before me. Another day, another dragon.
What I have learned about grief
What I have learned is that although we'll never get back our old normal, we will find a new one. Routines change, and the friendships that solidified in the first year continue to grow.
There will be new people to meet as well, and we'll adapt to the changes as they come. The important thing is that we move at our own pace, not putting expectations on ourselves. It's never good to say we're fine when we know we're not. It's better to say we're doing better, but life is still up and down. And if you're not doing better, it's appropriate to say so.
I once posted on Facebook that I wasn't doing very well, and I was gobsmacked by all the responses I received. If it's easier to admit it via social media, use it! It's allowed, and it may create new doorways into a new normal with new friends and activities, and the strengthing of old ones.
Advanced breast cancer is an isolating and lonely disease.