In grief of any kind, you cannot possibly expect to be the same person you were before your experience. But sometimes figuring out who the new you is is incredibly difficult. After all, a piece of you is forever missing. A lot of us baby loss parents talk about “a new normal”…. and this is the same thing – it’s a “new you”. Your personality, your appearance, your thought process, your hopes, fears and dreams have all changed now. It’s like you’re a teenager all over again figuring out what to do with your life.
I believe there is truly a monumental shift after going through such a loss. I will never be thankful for losing a child, but when I lost myself, I found a different life, one that is more meaningful and one that makes more sense.
I spent months just going through the motions of routine and at the time that was what I needed as I processed everything. Then I slowly started to return to life, and examine what that meant for us. For my family, that meant a physical move out of the city we had lived in for a decade, a fresh start in a new place and a rebuilding of our lives. That helped, but I wasn’t able to find my “place”. At first I didn’t understand or like the new me. I held two different jobs (not at the same time), but I didn’t feel settled, and I certainly wasn’t really happy, in fact they brought to light more things about my “new self”. The new me who was scared and lacked confidence, the new me who felt strained to make new friends in a new place, which before had come so easily. The new me who wasn’t sure I’d be able to be a good parent to my surviving children because of the one I had lost, and the new me who really didn’t know how I was going to make it through the loss. The new me who cried a lot and who found it difficult to be an optimist. The new me who had to bottom out before I could really come to terms with all that we had just experienced, even though I thought I had already done so.There wasn’t an “aha moment”. But those weeks and months made me realize that I needed to focus on me for a little while. I had focused on my loss for quite a while and vocalized it, but I hadn’t focused on rebuilding myself. Its incredibly important to realize that these are two separate things. YOU are NOT your loss, though it’s hard to differentiate sometimes (especially in the beginning).
We often spend so much time in confusion and despair we get lost in the pain. We may try to go back to “normal life”, we try to make others happy, or we don’t do anything at all. None of those options is good in the long run, because you’re ignoring yourself.
So I started being selfish. I didn’t care to appease people anymore. I did what was good for me and what I needed to do to be happy, which was to focus on my organization. With that, came opportunities and information that intrigued me. The new me was motivated, and passionate. I found ways I could be an advocate for addressing and changing some of the issues I feel strongly about with my fellow baby loss parents. I formed meaningful friendships instead of artificial pleasantries. I lost weight and got rid of a large amount of anxiety that was hanging over me. I’m still navigating, and I think everyone will have their days that aren’t optimal, but I can honestly say that I feel the best I have since February 2012. I can feel the difference, and others have mentioned that its visible in both my appearance and demeanor, even with the missing piece of my heart that forever belongs to Delilah.
If you feel like you’ve lost yourself going through trauma of any kind, grant yourself time and patience. You will find a new you…..try hard to accept and embrace that person, whether you understand them or not. Eventually you will start to make some sense of everything, and you’ll find someone just as beautiful as before, with flashes of your former self, but different.