My 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.
The author of Finding My New Normal blogs about her life, and her husband’s life, after the death of their son in the 36th week of pregnancy. Having recently moved from the US to London, she shares her journey openly, including her plans to have another child.