Matt, the definition of normal is something that conforms to a general pattern, ordinary or usual, typical, something that would be expected. I can tell you, I’ve been searching for “normal” for 46 months. Ever since you died nothing for me has felt “normal”. It’s not normal for a mother to bury her child. There is nothing normal about having to visit your child at a memorial garden. Nothing ordinary about not being able to pick up the phone and hear your voice. Nothing expected as I put my hands on your urn in my attempt to feel close to you.
It’s not normal to feel like your choking everyday. Not normal to feel like your heart split in half but still remains beating in your chest. My emotions are wild changing from moment to moment. Memories still have the power to bring me to my knees. Normal is not breaking down when hearing a song, seeing a young father holding hands with his child or having to choke back tears as two little brothers ring your doorbell yelling Trick or Treat.
It’s not normal to walk around on unstable ground. Feeling anxious and foggy. I’ve suffered through losses before. This is worlds apart from anything I’ve ever lived through. This normal was never expected. What was expected was you to grow old. To marry. To be in my life until it was time for me to go, not you. Normal is burying your parents, not your child.
So how do I find my “new normal?” I’ve heard that term so much I want to scream. How in the hell can anything be normal after your child has died. I know people mean well. People who have never lost a child are so quick to tell me how to adjust to this new phase in my life. Really, people who can hug their kids, call their kids, share meals with their kids telling me that this is my “new normal.”
These well meaning strangers have never ridden my emotional rollercoaster. They don’t experience my triggers. They haven’t been hit by the grief bus. The one that returns time and time again to slam me over and over. They don’t get the fact that my future has changed. Plans, goals and dreams are no more. My brain gets it but my heart struggles to accept the collateral damage that I walk through everyday.
Believe me, I have trouble believing that after all the time that has passed I’m still breathless when reality hits. That 46 months feels like yesterday. That there is no way that we are 2 months away from the 4 year mark. My brain screams how, how, how have I survived this long? How can it truly be that I have not heard your voice or seen your smile for almost 4 years?
There is nothing normal about not having your child in your life. There is nothing normal about having to put on your mask to face a world that is terrified of the grieving. I’ve learned that this so called “new normal” is just a polite way to tell grieving parents to get over it. It’s just one of those new terms that’s supposed to fix our broken lives.
What I’ve learned is that life will never be normal. Whether it be “new” or not there is nothing normal about life after losing a child. I’ve also come to understand that grief has no timetable. It follows no predictable course. Nothing about grief is normal. It is a personal journey that no one can walk for you. Grief is heartbreaking, complicated, powerful and unbalancing. It is anything but “Normal.”