We’ve all heard about the stages of grief, and I’m assuming we’ve all experienced the nonlinear way we cycle through all of the stages. I mean, heck, sometimes I hit all of them in one day. There’s another one, though, that I’m not sure we talk about enough…
It’s the change in identity.
We look in the mirror and no longer see ourselves as the person we were. Who is this different woman who’s standing here, in this similar-yet-changed body? She feels similar to the old me – the “before” me, but she’s not that person. She’s different. She’s been thrown into the fire, she’s faltered through the flames, and now here she stands, burned and marked by her experience in ways it’s hard to describe.
It’ll take months – even years – for her to get to know this new self. She’s in the awkward prepubescent stage all over again, learning who she is and how she fits into this new world…this new world without her baby.
She’s hardened and scarred by her life’s experiences, yet softer and newer and more vulnerable than she’s ever felt before. She tries the old, tried-and-true methods of comfort, but they’re not the same. Maybe they work a little, but there’s nothing in this world that can comfort her as much as it could before, because there’s that one thing that could always help more: having her baby in her arms.
She stumbles through the motions of daily life, albeit at a slower pace. Eventually, maybe she goes back to her old job, or maybe she can’t bring herself to face it. Maybe she goes back, but no longer finds fulfillment there. Maybe she goes back and it goes okay, but she can never bring herself to put as much of herself into it as she once did.
This is what it’s like to be changed by loss. It’s confusing, it’s hard, and it’s difficult. You fumble around, trying to find your new place in life, trying to define the new you.
Like all things post-loss, it takes time and effort – lots of time and effort. I learn new things about post-loss me just about every day, while my brain and heart and changed soul puzzle through this new and unpredictable world, where my Jonah is not here in my arms.