New normal? But there's nothing normal about child loss...
I used to grit my teeth at the very mention of 'normal' because normal to means that Katie is here with me, living her life, and being the crazy kid that she was. She would be finishing her nursing degree and we would be living like a normal family.
Enter the Covid-19 pandemic.
As if our world weren't broken enough after losing a child, we are now faced with a worldwide virus that is further changing life as we knew it. Our world will never be the same after this. The way we work and interact will be forever changed. Policies and procedures will change permanently in workplaces, and we will move forward into a world where we act and react differently. Once again, we are faced to head into unchartered territory.
This is what my new normal looks like. Maybe you can relate:
1. My new normal includes being broken and resilient all at once. While I am 100% compliant with Covid-19 recommendations at home and at work, I feel like I have already survived the worst thing that can happen to a person. I feel like shouting "I've lost a child!". I suppose that means I have a certain level of resilience. I know I've been dealt the most unfair hand and I am surviving. I am holding my little family together. We have strength that surprises me some days and I remind myself that we have a 100% track record of surviving. We know how to pick ourselves up on the dark days and we know how to keep going.
2. My new normal includes a level of gratitude that is hard to explain. I have a new appreciation for everything now and I don't take anything for granted. Life can change in heartbeat so I do my best to live large and love hard. And I'm grateful for the moments that make me smile and all the beautiful memories I have of Katie. Those 17 1/2 years were definitely a gift that I am grateful for.
3. My new normal includes coping skills I never thought I'd need. Covid-19 doesn't scare me, but it makes me worry about those who are at risk and I can't fathom the thought of losing another loved one...or child. I feel my anxiety creep up more often than usual but I am able to manage it after all that I have learned while dealing with my daughter's death. Healing is hard work, but it's what I choose to do.
I will survive. I have already survived that worst that life can throw at me.
Our mental health can truly be challenged in times like this. Depression and anxiety that were once under control, bubble to the surface at times and make coping that much harder. Be aware and reach out for support.
Your new normal doesn't have to be completely devoid of happiness. Try to find ways to smile. Turn off the news and watch a good comedy. Find funny YouTube videos to watch. Share uplifting posts on social media. Start working on a photo book of your child. While that may bring tears, it will likely bring smiles too. If you're not sure how to start, go to Mixbook.com.
This may be the time to dive into a new book about healing after child loss, or perhaps to gift yourself a piece of memorial jewelry. Take a look at the page I've created that lists my favourite grief books and gifts, as well as some coupons for jewellers that I know and respect. Take a look: https://www.lisakboehm.com/books-gifts
I wish you all peace, love, and light today and always,