I’ve had my “normal” life rocked a few times. One of the biggest was my normal typical American married with two kids life transitioned into a nightmare in the blink of an eye when my first husband, Kris was killed in a motorcycle accident. I hated when well intentioned people kept telling me to find my “new normal.” All I wanted was my “old normal” back. I was so deep in grief and felt our lives had moved to a dysfunctional miasma of grief. Those feelings by the way are normal for grief.
A "new normal" is part of the acceptance of a major change. In a previous blog I wrote about with every change there is a loss. It can feel like a death of something as well. Acceptance is a part of the journey through change and loss. (Click here to read more on the “journey/stages” of grief.) This is when you can begin to accept your major life change occurred, life is different and begin to see a future life.
I remember in the first year after Kris died, thinking maybe we will find that “new normal” people keep saying I need to find. I was attempting to survive and “faking it until I make it.” If this is my new normal it sucked to the core and I wanted no parts of it. I felt fake and numb – like a fraud.
About a year and a half into the aftermath, I remember thinking, well, OK, maybe this new “normal” is shaping up. Life is still crummy, lonely, and I cry often, daily but not constantly. I think we will survive and life is continuing on.
I made a conscious choice to find my new normal and survive; I joined Griefshare and eventually became a Griefshare group facilitator. I was determined to find a new normal and attempt to live a “normal” life again, whatever that meant.
After a couple of years of therapy and intense grief work, I was able to feel like I had discovered my new normal. It felt like very strange place to be, moving forward from Kris’s death and thinking about what I wanted in my future. I felt glad and relieved to be moving on and working on figuring out who I was now and defining that new normal. I still dislike that description, “new normal.” I accept that it really is a new normal and the old life is gone.
So here I am on the precipice of beginning another new normal – all of my biological children will be functioning adults - grown and out of the house in a few months time. I feel both happy and wistful.
I am so thankful that I can check off the mom, parent, you survived and did it box. After Kris died, I sure wasn’t so sure where we’d all end up. I can happily report we are all doing amazing and living lives we’ve chosen.
However, this is a major change and another new normal for me. What does an adult child/parent relationship look like? (Check out my blog –When Relationships Change) I’m going to be a mother-in-law – what does that look like? I have coached people on their what is next after divorce, death of loved one, empty nesting, and major job loss. It can be unnerving to wonder what do I do now? (Check out Now What? ® 90 Days to a New Life Direction if that’s of interest)
What’s next? Time to remember all of the resiliency lessons I’ve learned along this life journey, follow my own advice and take time to feel all of the quirky emotions surrounding the change, mourn the losses, celebrate this new life and find a peaceful acceptance.
Here’s to your new normal if you are seeking one. I’ve included some resiliency, change, and relationship resources below. Looking for some support finding that new normal? I partner with motivated people that have been knocked down by life changes and losses who want to become more resilient. Let's connect. May you live life well and with joy!
Peace, Love, & Blessings,
Teresa Bitner, PMP, M. Ed., ACC
Change & Love Resources
The New Normal
Finding a New Normal
5 Tips for Surviving Change and Building Resiliency - video
Managing and Surviving Change
Healthy Boundaries Equals Healthy Relationships
Teresa’s Free Resources