Returning to Normal After a Loss: Is it Possible?
To answer the question, yes and no. When you suffer a devastating loss, it may seem like life will never be the same again. And in many ways, it won’t. But there is definitely hope of returning to what they call a “new normal” — once you’ve gone through the grieving process and had time to heal. It may not be like it once was, but you will feel a sense of normalcy return some day. If you have recently lost a loved one in Alameda County and elsewhere, you may need some help gaining clarity. That’s where bereavement services come into play.
It does take some time to return to normal, and the amount of time that takes will be different for everyone. When you decide you’re ready to face your daily routines again, here are some tips on easing into things.
1. Take Baby Steps
It’s tough to see the big picture when you’ve just gone through the loss of a loved one. Take one day at a time. Try not to think too far into the future for now. You can do this by setting small goals for yourself. It may seem insurmountable to face going back to work right now, but if you focus on taking a shower, getting to work, and making it to your first coffee break, the day won’t seem so overwhelming. Then, after that, focus on getting through lunch, the rest of the work day, and the commute home. Take baby steps every day until you aren’t counting down the hours obsessively. It may take weeks or months, but you’ll get there.
2. Start Small
It’s inevitable that everyone around you will want you to “get back to normal.” But don’t feel the pressure. Let your mind and body tell you when it’s time. It can seem overwhelming to jump back into your normal everyday activities with gusto. Instead, consciously decide to choose small, worthwhile activities while deliberately planning to carry them out, says What’s Your Grief.
Have you stopped engaging in certain activities that used to bring you joy because you don’t have the time and energy any longer, or the activities take too much effort, or they remind you of your loved one too much? Perhaps those activities aren’t as enjoyable without them. In that case, it can help to try something new, or take the old activities and put a spin on them.
There are many outlets in between that can help you navigate through those activities, such as meeting up with the girls for yoga and coffee, writing in a daily journal, volunteering, taking a photography class, or doing ceramics. You may find that the new — or old — activity actually helps with your healing process because you’re actively connecting with others again. That sense of empowerment, calm, and peace can help you feel human again. What a great motivation!
3. Go With Your Emotions
First off, allow yourself to feel. Don’t hold back your emotions just because you think it will make others uncomfortable. Of course, you don’t want to bawl at school drop-off or have a breakdown in the middle of the grocery store. But it’s important to give yourself permission to explore any emotion you may have as it comes. You don’t have to be embarrassed or apologize for your emotions. Just give yourself a few minutes to accept and embrace those emotions, recognize them, and then collect yourself. Who doesn’t feel better after a good cry?
4. Redefine What Makes You Happy
When you redefine your level of happiness, this can ease the pain of loss. Search for new things to draw happiness from. It may take a while to find them, but when you do, you’ll likely feel a sense of personal fulfillment that comes with accomplishing a goal and trying something new, whether that’s learning to play the piano or spending time with family members you have grown apart from. Indeed, says Everyday Health, an adjustment in your outlook is necessary to learning to live again after loss.
5. Surround Yourself With Positive People
It will do you no good to close yourself off and shut people out. In order to re-emerge after loss, you need to surround yourself with people that bring out the best in you. Be careful who you select for your circle, but allow them in. Humans are social beings who draw strength from the support and love of family and friends. Rest assured, they all want to help but don’t really know how. Let them offer, accept what they offer, and be thankful for it. If they want to pick up your kids after school and take them for a milkshake, let them. If they want to take you out for a nice dinner and a glass of your favorite wine, go.
Draw from the strength that positive, helpful people infuse you with.
Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice
We offer many bereavement services to support you through the loss of a loved one. Whether you choose to attend a support group meeting or get one-on-one counseling, we can help. Just call us at 888-978-1306.