Wednesday, 26 January 2011

7 Ways Grief Has Changed Me

This blog is called Finding My New Normal. I started it after my son died to try and sort out my feelings and to try and figure out how to live without him. I've been thinking a lot about how losing my son has changed me. In an effort to find my new normal I think it's important to reflect on what this new me is like. How is she different from the old me?

Do I even like her? I suppose that's a question for a different day.

But for now, here are the 7 ways that losing my son has changed me.
  1. I have taken my rose-colored glasses off. I used to surround myself with only positive things. I hated sad books, sad movies, or anything that would make me cry. I never thought that anything bad would or could happen to me. I believed that if you were a good person then only good things would happen to you. I now know that while it's important to be a good person, it won't necessarily protect you from bad things. I also know that just because you only watch funny movies and refuse to read the back of your pregnancy books where they talk about complications and loss, your baby can still die.
  2. I am much more compassionate. I never gave much thought to the suffering of others. I don't mean that I didn't care for people or that I didn't feel sad when they suffered loss. It's just that I really didn't understand what they were going through. I figured they would be sad for a while and then get over it. I now know that you never really get over tragedy, you just get better at living with it. I now feel a need to reach out to the people in my life who are in distress. I want them to know that I'm here, that I understand, and that I'm here for them. I think I always felt this way, but I just wasn't very good at doing anything about it before. Now I want to get good at it, so that no one in my life has to suffer alone.
  3. I am terrible at follow through. I forget to answer emails, pay bills, and return phone calls. I say I will send something in the mail or book a vacation and then I completely forget. I used to be very reliable and responsible. Now I find that I'm absent minded and if I don't write myself lists I forget things. 
  4. I am much more emotional. I've always been one to cry at movies (one of the reasons for item 1) and silly commercials, but I was always very stable emotionally. The old me was very rational and rarely acted out of emotion. I carefully thought things through before I made decisions. But now I'm no longer in control. I feel sad on days when it's really not convenient. I cry in public which is something I would have NEVER done before. Basically, I'm a total mess. 
  5. I am much more vulnerable. If you had met me 6 months ago you would have seen a confident, independent, happy person. It took a lot to hurt my feelings or make me angry. I rarely held grudges because for the most part, things just didn't get to me that much. Now I'm the total opposite. If my family doesn't call or email I'm hurt. A couple of family members forgot my birthday this month and it reduced me to tears. I was absolutely crushed that we received so few Christmas Cards this year. These are things that I wouldn't have thought twice about before.
  6. I appreciate the positive things in my life. In fairness, I've always been grateful for the things in my life, just not in the same way. I really do have a good life. I have a loving family and a fantastic husband. I get to live in London where I have met some fabulous friends. We get to travel all over Europe and the world. What has changed is the depth to which I appreciate it all. I treasure the things in my life that I have left, because I now know how easy it is to lose it all. In the blink of an eye, or the wave of an ultrasound wand  your whole life can be shattered. 
  7. I am a better wife. Well at least I hope I am. Tagging on to item 6, I have come to appreciate my marriage in a way I never thought possible. I now make more of an effort to let him know this, both in my actions and in my words. We have been married for over 12 years and it's easy to get complacent. So the new me is working hard to make sure he knows just how special he is to me. That I would never have gotten through this without him. That he truly is my life. 
I'm sure in time I will come to find many other ways in which I have changed, both for the good and the bad. I can only hope that someday I can look at the new me living my new normal and feel content. I hope I will like this new person I am becoming.


  1. This is an honest list that takes a lot of courage in putting out. In time you will grow into someone that you know and love. But for now, it is okay to see the differences. I am an avid reader of you and think you are an incredible woman.

  2. With the exception of #1 (I've always loved sad movies, books, etc. and have, sometimes to my detriment, never been able to have rose colored glasses) I can honestly say that every single one of these things applies to me now as well. Some are clearly changes for the better, some are taking a little more time to adjust to and get comfortable with.

  3. Thanks for sharing your list - I could relate to so much of it. Sometimes I think it's amazing how much I've changed since losing my baby, but I sometimes also realize I became a parent (just never as I had planned) and I know everyone says becoming a parent changes your life forever. Unfortunately I think because I don't have a living child to show for my change, people often forget and assume I'm back to my same 'ol self before Acacia. It's an interesting, difficult and rewarding journey of self-discovery.

  4. Like Sarah, I still don't do number one, but all the rest you named are changes I have seen in myself since my son was diagnosed with autism. Not in anyway similar in magnitude to your loss, but a big change in our lives.

    I think you will like her, I certainly do. Some days you may hate the new you and you know that is ok, that is part of the process of grieving too.

    Big hugs. Jen

  5. I could have written so much of that post to describe me too - I find it uncanny how many things we have in common.

    One thing I will share, a psychologist told me during an infant loss support group that the forgetfulness and brain fog gets better after about 18 months. Seriously, 18 months. I guess in the interim, we'd better make good lists?

    And about whether you like the new you or not? I wonder the same thing about myself and decided it is up to me to make sure I become someone I like - I might not like all of the facets that came along with grief, but somehow I have to turn it into something that I can live with for a long time, otherwise I will hate myself. I've decided while it has and will change my life, I am trying not to let it define my life. Easier said than done for sure.

    Hang in there.

  6. What a beautiful post and so much of it echos in myself.

    I have found there is no sugar coating anything anymore and shit does happen, which you'd think that would put a layer of protection around us? No, the vulnerability was such a shock to me and am continually surprised by others lack of compassion and empathy... But I guess that just shows us how much we have and to offer to others.

    Thank you for this thought provoking post

  7. A friend of mine who miscarried had this posted on her Facebook today, "This week we remember all babies born sleeping or whom we have carried but never met, or those we have held but could not take home or the ones that came home but didn't stay." I thought it was really well said and wanted to share it with you. And I thought it was nice that there was a time, even if on Facebook, that people might remember ...

  8. What very parallel list to what I imagine I would say to the same question... Thank you for sharing this.

  9. If only we could have this kind of perspective without the suffering you have endured. As I said in your 'Grateful' post just now, your son seemed to have a true purpose and he has done his job so beautifully. x

  10. This
    "I now know that you never really get over tragedy, you just get better at living with it."
    is so incredibly true.

    I'm so sorry for your loss :(

  11. Great little list. And I agree with each one. Looking back over those years in my life, I could have written each one.
    And an additional one... people can say some crazy things! Do you experience this, as well??

  12. You could have written this list for me.

  13. I'm so sorry you've lost your son...and knowing what he would be like as well as all the dreams you had for him.

    My daughter died at the age of 4, and your list is very similar to mine.....I think grief wakes you up to how fragile life really is, it also lives inside and doesn't ever disappear.

    I write a blog on my loss and learning to appreciate what I have's been healing to write about losing my mum, daughter and sister.

    sending love to you
    Diana x

  14. Thank you everyone for your kind words. I am still changing everyday and I can only hope that I like who I am becoming.

  15. You made me stop and think with some of these - being appreciative for what we have,
    letting our husband's know they are our lives,
    having compassion ...
    being vulnerable teaches us empathy.
    It is a wonderful post, I love the insight.
    And you sound strong here, taking charge of the good stuff too ;)

    Thanks for linking up to Time Travel Tuesday today, it really means a lot to have your support ... and having a chance to read posts that have been and gone is like curling up with a favorite magazine!
    Have a wonderful day!

  16. Such a touching post that will certainly help others. Thanks for sharing this!
    Stopping by and following, liking, tweeting, stumbling, and digging on Time Travel Tuesday!

  17. What amazing post! I love how you shared the positivies and negatives.

    Stopping from Time Travel Tuesday.

  18. I feel like I am gaining this perspective through reading your blog, without having to endure the loss of a child. Thanks for that! Thanks for Rewinding x