Finding a “New Normal”

Finding a “New Normal”

Spring is the season of rebirth and new beginnings. For many of us, the longer days of sunlight and vivid colors of nature in bloom are welcome changes especially after such a challenging year. From plans cancelled to our ability to safely get together with others, the pandemic uprooted our ways of life. It’s understandable that we miss the traditions and connections we once held dear.

The pandemic also brought the loss of loved ones. Whether due to COVID-19 or other circumstances, lives were cut short. And the experience of grieving them during a pandemic can have a compounding effect, creating what Co-Founder of What’s your Grief, Litsa Elizabeth Williams, calls cumulative grief.

Similarly, as U.S. vaccination rates continue to rise and COVID-19 restrictions increasingly lift, some may feel like we are entering a “new normal” of the pandemic. The sensation can be daunting, exciting, even scary—but doubly so for a person grieving a loved one and the “new normal” that is created in their absence with each passing day. Here are some things to keep in mind while navigating your “new normal” after loss, but particularly as the pandemic continues to evolve.

Give yourself space and grace.

“You start whenever you decide to start.”

Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

There is no one way to grieve. There are no timelines, no formulas, no stages. It’s important to remember to be kind to yourself and listen and understand your needs. You know what works for you and what does not. Comparing yourself to other’s healing processes and forcing yourself into certain situations may not be helpful in the long run.

Do not be surprised when completing tasks that were once easy, now feel like climbing a mountain, mentally and physically. Going to the grocery store. Spending a whole day at the office. Attending a family barbecue. These seemingly regular activities may exhaust you. Take your time and ease back into a routine if need be, like the first dip into the lake after a long winter.

Take care of your physical health.

“I believe that the greatest gift you can give your family and the world is a healthy you.”

Joyce Meyer

As we emotionally process grief, it is important to keep our bodies as healthy as possible. Make sure to get enough sleep, keep yourself hydrated with water, and maintain a balanced diet. Understandably, there may be foods that bring you comfort, such as baked goods or even ice cream, but don’t forget to balance those with dark green vegetables and lean protein.

Spring and summer also provide opportunities to get exercise in different ways outdoors. Yoga has its emotional and physical benefits, but so does a walk in the sunshine. Other exercise that connects you to nature might include hiking, mountain biking, and swimming. Whatever the preference, it’s still important to exercise at your own pace and comfort level, whether you are training for a marathon or strolling the neighborhood, be kind and patient with yourself.

Process your feelings in ways that feel right for you.

“Everyone grieves in different ways. For some, it could take longer or shorter. I do know it never disappears. An ember still smolders inside me. Most days, I don’t notice it, but, out of the blue, it’ll flare to life.”

Maria V. Snyder, Storm Glass

Just as there are different grief timelines, there are also different ways of processing our grief. Some processes might involve exercise. Others might not. It is completely normal to try something that does not feel right, then move on. It is also normal that what works for you, might not work for others. Not everything works for everybody in the same ways.

For example, some people find it helpful to express their emotions through art – whether it’s painting, drawing, listening to and creating music, or dancing. Others process through the written word by writing stories and journaling. You might even consider combining those together by starting an art journal. Remember – this is for YOU to help process your grief, so you don’t need to be a Picasso or Aretha Franklin to give it a try.

For those that process aloud, grief support groups or counseling can be helpful. As can be walking and talking with a friend who is a good listener or has experienced something similar. On the other hand, if you are feeling more introspective, perhaps a meditation practice may help you on your journey.

As you navigate your “new normal” after experiencing loss, please know the SightLife Family Services Team is here to help. We also offer several ways to connect with other grieving families, including through our Donor Family Facebook page and our small online gatherings called Connection Circles. If you are interested in either of these opportunities, please contact us at donorfamilyservices@sightlife.org.