7 Ways Grief Has Changed Me

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.

Photo Credit.

20 Comments:

  1. Alisha said on May 9, 2011 at 10:01 am ... #

    Thanks for sharing this with us. I especially like how some of the things you mention are positive, some negative, and some neutral. It can be hard at times to recognize that our losses change us in many ways, and we need to accept those changes as part of the process.

  2. Jenny said on May 9, 2011 at 6:51 pm ... #

    Thank you for sharing the changes you have experienced since your loss. I am so sorry for your loss. I am here visiting the website, because I too suffered a loss 9 months ago. I lost the love of my life. We knew each other for 25 years and the past 8 were spend as a couple so much in love. I have lost a part of myself and struggle each day to learn to live with the new normal. I was comforted by your writing. Unlike you, I have always been very emotional, so now..wow..it is like the floor gates have opened and tears flow when I try so hard to stop them. I get angry at those around me that moved on with their life and expect me to do the same. Life will never be the same and someday I hope and pray I find my joy again. Until then, I hope I will be a better person, more caring, more compassionate and understanding of others who are traveling the journey of grief. I am so happy I found your post today, it was exactly what I needed to read. Thank you!

  3. Dawn Miley said on May 10, 2011 at 7:15 pm ... #

    I loved ur 7 ways.I lost my husband 3 years ago to braincancer and have no Hope.We had been married 28 years and have 3 children and the youngest is 12.Our first grandchild was born on Friday and my husband died on Monday.I am lost…

  4. Bill said on May 12, 2011 at 2:35 pm ... #

    Your honesty is refreshing! It will stand you in good stead in your “new normal.” Denial, while normal and protective for awhile,is seldom the path to healing and you are on that path. A long time ago unable to have a child we adopted -he’ll soon be 28 and getting married -turned our lives around. Life is full of risk, I’ve learned that. It’s also full of possibility. Stay honest to yourself and I wish you well.

  5. Jennifer McKay said on May 20, 2011 at 1:07 pm ... #

    Finding out who you are after losing your child is exceptionally hard at times. I am now 3 1/2 years out and it can still sometimes hit me like a ton of bricks. There are times when I question everything I am doing and then something happens and I know I am on the right path. I have learned that I really love the new me so much more than the me previous to my son. While I wish he could be here and healthy, I know that I was blessed to have him in my life along with cherishing every moment we had and know that he is now safe in ways I was never able to provide him while here. He is where he needs to be making the changes on his side while I strive to make the changes on this side. HUGS!!!

  6. Karla said on May 24, 2011 at 12:29 pm ... #

    Thank you this. I can identify with many of the things you list. My son died of a very rare brain tumor at 9 months old. One of the most difficult things in my grief has been figuring out who I am now. I have changed in many ways. Some good, some not so good. Some things about who I used to be I miss deeply, but this cannot be changed. And truly, I would not want to change it–to change those things now would mean that I would have missed out on the precious time I had with my son, through my pregnancy, through his illness and even in his death. To never have met him at all would have been a bigger loss. Thank you for reminding me to be a better wife–I could not have gotten through the death of our son without my loving and supportive husband. Sometimes it is easy to overlook how incredibly lucky I am to have him.

  7. Elva said on May 24, 2011 at 1:53 pm ... #

    My youngest son was KIA in Afghanistan 28 months ago and I can relate to your posting. I cannot get over how unreliable my memory is. Paying my bills was of the utmost importance to me but now I go into “I’ll pay them tomorrow” mode. I joined a Weight Watchers group but for the life of me I forgot that I joined it online and that the monies was automatically being withdrawn from my account. I forget people’s names..my mantra is “I don’t know.” I was always compassionate but I am much more now. I even feel sorry for people who have to witness my pain. I truly understand that most people do not understand what it’s like to lose a child in a war and yet I get upset that they don’t ask my about my son..or how I’m doing on a daily basis. I am either angry and blue or I feel like I’m numb and I function. After 28 months though I realize that my life will be a continual journey of learning how to live with my pain. As I was shuffling thru some papers yesterday I ran into my son’s high school picture..after that my night was over. I feign interest in conversations or I leave the room when I can’t play the actress. I wish I could say I was a better mother and grandmother. Seeing my son’s young children just breaks my heart and I have to remember each and every day that my older sons need my attention too. I use to say this was my new normal but I have understand that each day is new and abnormal and I’ll try to negotiate thru the day to the best of my ability.

  8. Darlene Pierce said on May 24, 2011 at 3:58 pm ... #

    Thanks for sharing, I lost my love of my life due to an unexpected heart attack. Prior to his passing we had been having problems, and I had been living with my son. whithin one month he died. I always thought we had time to work things out. Because of our problems his family hated me, and still does. Even though we werent living together I still loved him with all my heart.
    alot of people dont think I deserve to grieve, because we were fighting at the time. That hurts me even more. Allot of hurtfull words were said at the time, that I cant take back . I was really hurt because he was the one that wanted the divorce, because I quit partying, and he didnt like the boring life style. I also had gained some weight, and he was hanging around allot of really young people that was much skinnier and younger. Pretty soon I wasnt so much fun any more. But that didnt make me love him any less. It broke my heart, and when he died then I was devastated. I had no more time to fix what was broken. In the midst of our fighting I had said HE DESERVED EVERYTHING HE HAD COMING TO HIM. But in a million years would I ever wish him dead. He was my world, my life, when he left me when we were fighting I thought my world was over. Then a month later he died, and he was really gone for good then.So I think his whole family blames me for his demise. I wish I could have been there to hold his hand when he passed to tell him how sorry I was. I would cutt of my arm to beable to turn back those events. TEARSTEARSTEARSTEARSTEARSTEARSTEASRTEARSTEARSTEARSTEARSTEARSTEARSTEARSTEARSTEARSTEARSTEARSXOXOXO

  9. Jean said on May 26, 2011 at 11:27 am ... #

    I appreciate all that each of you has contributed to this commentary. i have never visited this site before. I was looking for information for my granddaughter about a comfort camp for kids. My son took his own life just a year ago, he was 27, his daughter was 9. I have 2 other surviving children and another grandchild. I also have a very attentive and loving husband who has helped me through the most difficult times I’ve ever experienced. And as one of you said, you don’t get over it, you just get better at living with it. I too have been so much more forgetful than I ever used to be. I’m often late for appointments, which I never had been before. My pain can be so physical at times, I am totally dibillitated. I am lucky to have the rest of my family, I’m not alone, I know. But your words, thoughts, feelings and situations make me feel so much less isolated. This my first time reaching out to a “group”, I have been deathly afraid of that type of situation. Even though I know there are so many people out there who have lost so much more than I have, its still so good to know you are all there and can truly understand what my grief is like. Thank you so much for your input. I will visit this site again.

  10. Cara said on October 13, 2011 at 12:40 pm ... #

    I lost my husband to suicide 12 yeas ago … he had suffered depression, as did both his parent … but his psychotherapist felt strongly that he had “issues” related to his parents’ difficulties – not bipolar disorder. Unfortunately, his psychotherapist was wrong … my husband began a downward spiral over a period of year and at the end of that period he found a gun somehow, somewhere … and shot himself in the head. Twelve years later – even with intensive psychotherapy – I am still cold inside, and guilty, and frightened … of future losses. I will love him forever and will miss him every moment of my life and I try to appear normal so as no to frighten my family … but I will never, ever, ever get over this. My heart is irretrievably broken.

  11. Tina Carrion said on February 3, 2012 at 2:21 pm ... #

    Thanks so much for sharing the 7 ways you’ve been changed by the loss of your son. It was like reading about myself! I lost my 16 year old daughter in February of 2008… It shattered me to my very core. And so many cannot possibly understand what I have gone through, and continue to struggle with on a daily basis.

    I am so sorry for your loss, although I know from experience that nobody will ever be more sorry than you.

    Peace to you and your family.
    Tina

  12. sharon dixon said on February 23, 2012 at 8:25 am ... #

    I am still a mess nearly 6yrs after the death of my daughter aged 19yrs !!!

  13. Lisa Graziano said on February 23, 2012 at 8:59 am ... #

    I am still a mess almost 6 years after losing my son to still birth. His birthday is coming up in a few weeks and I am constantly thinking about him. I dont know when things will ever get easier to deal with…

  14. Rachel said on February 23, 2012 at 9:03 am ... #

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing this part of your story.

  15. Kristy said on February 23, 2012 at 10:17 am ... #

    My son will be out of my arms for 8 months on Saturday. He was 11 and died of a brain tumor. I have felt crazy since he died, and like I was all alone. Every time I read something about grief it makes me feel like I am not crazy and it is normal. This article is me. I relate to everything. Thanks for your words and for sharing your heart.

  16. Barbara said on February 24, 2012 at 1:32 am ... #

    Early in marriage, I miscarried twice, nearly went crazy. But, life went on. I successfully had three wonderful boys and a good marriage for 54 years. In Sept., 2009 we lost our middle son, 45 yrs. old in an accident then 10 mos. later my husband, who had been ill for several years, went on to meet the Lord and is with my son and the two babies I lost early on in heaven. Because of a really strong faith in God I have survived. Barely sometimes, but still survived. It’s not easy and I still cry especially at night when alone. Always remember, YOU are not alone, you have family, friends and yes, even me, to cry with you and eventually laugh with you. You will laugh again and come out of this a better person. We just have to love one another and hold each other up. God is so good, always remember that!

  17. Catsissie said on January 23, 2013 at 3:49 pm ... #

    I thought it was just my age and a couple of health hiccups that caused some of this! When the love of my life passed from COPD, my world stopped, the universe changed, life as I knew it changed. The woman who never minded doing anything alone before there was feminism didn’t want to do that any more–but her “partner in crime” wasn’t there, either, and for the first time, being alone was actually lonely. Never happened before he came into my world. Like you, I forget–to talk to anyone, call them, eat, and I’m much older, so, no one but my cat who needs me. And, when the junk mail comes, adverts about really silly things–favorite fast foods or auto parts stores–that come to bring memories and tears few would understand the reasons for. Crazy? Is grief crazy in what makes it come to the front of our minds and pour out of our hearts? No. And why do some friends and family seem to shun us, even electronically, unless we make the first move? Because they don’t know what to say? Because we’re “bad luck”? Because we make them remember what they are uncomfortable about? Or they weren’t there when we needed them? I don’t know, I only know that, in the end, we have our God, if we are believers, and each other, because we have all walked the path at one time or another. Thank you for being there today, I really needed you.

  18. Brenda said on April 29, 2013 at 9:42 am ... #

    Since my passing of my dad who was my best friend and me daddy’s girl and cannot see myself ever being the same. I know I did everything for him and no regrets but I miss him so much and cry a lot and any given time or hear a word, see a picture. I do feel very empty even though I have children and a husband that are amazing and we help each other. I am very mad at the nursing home and not getting answers is hard but most of all not being able to see him or hear his voice. He was my rock and I cannot get over that. I know there must be others out there who share the same kind of feelings but you have to really go through it to understand. I enjoyed reading other peoples stories even though very sad.

  19. Michael Robert's mom said on September 10, 2014 at 12:48 pm ... #

    Thank you for this website. My son, Michael, died 3 weeks ago of a drug overdose. He was 28 years old. At times I am at peace that the constant worry for him has been taken from me At times, my whole being is just not!!! The pain!

  20. Steph said on March 15, 2015 at 10:38 pm ... #

    I remember the last thing my brother ever did was give me a hug, and he said, “have a nice life.” He killed himself two days later. He must have planned it because it was exactly 2 years and one month after my other brother died. They both passed on the 7th. And the anniversary of be firsts brothers death is coming again. I believe he took his life for many reasons, but I was very angry and still am for him leaving me and my parents. It is so heartbreaking to lose someone u love so very much. I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around why such evil and tragedy took my family. When I tell people it never seems to help much and I am scared to talk about it most of the time. Seems like ill end up disliking people if they act like they don’t care. It’s sad how unempathetic people are or they treat me like I’m just sad all the time. I don’t want pity, I guess just understanding. Idk if anyone else feels this way. But i feel so very lonely without them.

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