When my mom passed away in December, I felt this overwhelming weight of unfairness about how everything in the world just kept going. I didn’t want to keep doing all the things because she couldn’t do any of them anymore. I wanted to do nothing, go nowhere and talk to no one. I wanted to stay at home and binge watch her favorite movies, listen to her favorite songs, and cry over her favorite possessions left in my hands.
It took a lot of time to start a path towards normal again from the crushing immobility of my grief.
Just as things were getting back in a groove, the world I had just started embracing again shut down.
The routines I was becoming dependent on, the ways I was honoring her memory, and the people around me that had formed my support system were now completely out of reach. The stress of dealing with working a full-time job at home, schooling my three kids, managing a household that was occupied 24/7 and fearing a malicious virus started taking its toll. There was nowhere to escape from my thoughts, no distractions to offer temporary comfort.
My grief was quarantined with me and I with it.
I asked myself “How am I supposed to get back to normal in the most unprecedented version of abnormal I’ve ever experienced?”
The answer surprised me: “Define a new normal”.
I realized there was so much I didn’t have, much more so than restaurants and working in the office.
There was no running away from the unpleasantness, no sleeping away days that didn’t have her in them, and no shoving away boxes to never be looked in because they would open the wounds again. I realized I had to stop waiting for the phone to ring because the call I never wanted already came and went. I had to let the tears come and the waves of emotion roll over me. There were not enough movies, ice cream or retail therapy to fill the infinite gap in my soul. There was some deafening loneliness. There were pleas that reverberated in my four walls to take the pain away. There was no routine anymore.
What I found in my house, however, was unlimited hugs from the constant companionship of my humans stuck in the house with me. There was a sleepy puppy to sit in my lap. There was scrolling and scrolling through texts from people I loved and virtual hugs. There were so many prayers; the out loud kind from hearts that have never been broken and silent ones in between soft sobs in bed. There were new routines of homemade coffee and pajamas as acceptable work attire. There was my husband who could put his hand in mine as a gentle reminder that I wasn’t doing this alone. There were options for grief counseling over the Internet and online support groups.
There was an abundance of love and time. Luckily, those are the two things that are supposed to heal all.
Hopefully in the midst of this forced shutdown, when the world restarts, I can be ready to enter into with the “new normal” fully transitioned into “normal.”
There will still be hard days as there were before but maybe they won’t feel as hard and I can remember that we all can make it through hard days if we do it together.