The death of a loved one brings significant change. We are no longer a spouse, parent, sibling, child, or friend. Life is completely thrown off course and every aspect of it is altered, including our social order, financial circumstances, and relationships. We view the world through a different lens and as we mourn our loved one, our perspective shifts.
Grieving a loss is like finding yourself caught in an emotional tsunami; everything seems out of control, with no notion of how to reign things in. It can feel as if you’re stumbling in the dark, searching for a calm port in a raging storm.
As the days turn into weeks, and the weeks become months, most of us begin to get a grip on things and start to find our footing. We realize we are adjusting and slowly reenter the world. But as we pick up the threads of our lives, we find one change that is difficult to absorb: Without our knowledge or consent, we have changed.
As one bereaved spouse puts it, “I miss the old me.” You might also be missing the mother, daughter, sibling, or friend you used to be. But maybe what you are pining for isn’t the old you, but the sheltered you. The you that did not know such pain existed; the you who did not know what it would feel like to be left fatherless, motherless, parentless, siblingless, spouseless, or childless.
As we continue to mourn our loss, it becomes evident that life changes are inevitable. While moving through our grief we begin to see the possibility of positive outcomes. Coming face to face with life’s fragilities helps us focus on our priorities, recognizing what’s truly important. And while we might have lost the ability to see the world through rose-colored glasses, we have gained greater empathy for others facing loss.
You may be surprised to see that a new “me” emerges from your grief. The new me is just a different version of the old me, one that feels older and wiser. It will take time to adjust to the new me. Once you do, you’ll be in a place to make better decisions to move you forward.
Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now available as e-books for "Illness & Death," "Suicide," "Miscarriage," "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle Store.