When a baby enters the world, we expect life to pause, for the new parents to retreat into their bubble of new parenthood as the adjusment to a new person in their life begins. We create time for the adjustment. Even employers have gotten on board offering both maternity and paternity leave these days. When we return to work or "life," we often are bombarded with questions about the baby, about life with the baby, about how we are doing, feeling, sleeping.
Life as we knew it before the arrival, no longer exists. We have to find a new normal.
When a family member or friend leaves the physical, we are expected to take a day or two, and then resume. Employers give a few days for bereavement and then it's back at work. Rather than asking about life without the person lost, we tend to avoid the conversation topic asking more generic questions such as "how are you?" or "things going okay?" Too sad, we tell ourselves, we don't want to stir up grief.
Life as we knew it before the departure, no longer exists. We have to find a new normal.
We are so good at seeing the reasons why leading up to and welcoming a new person into the world is not a normal, everyday thing. And yet, often when it's the end, time for departure, we don't give ourselves the same room for things to not be normal. We struggle to keep things going, to not let anything fall through the cracks in the midst of saying goodbye, dealing with the feelings that go along with loss, and sorting through the emotion of it all.
It's not a normal time when a person is coming in or going out. We give ourselves years, decades even, to adjust to the addition of a new person, and yet on the other side, we all too often give ourselves a short amount of time.
Loss is real. It hurts. It is tough. Everything changes. It is not something that you "get over" in a prescribed amount of time. It is not something that has a predictable pattern of recovery.
My request: let's give in to the abnormal. Let's talk about the tough stuff. Let's allow ourselves to feel sad, to honor the person(s) we lost. Ask about them, talk about them, let their spirit live on through stories and remembrances. Be open to saying hello rather than scared to say goodbye.
And let yourself expect it to not be normal for a while.
As we do.