Grieving? How to Navigate your “New Normal”
In the past year, many things have completely uprooted me from any type of earthly stability or security or routine. Death of a spouse. Suddenly home schooling. Moving to a new town. And moving again within town. I have had no chance of thinking that I know what tomorrow brings. And I certainly did not expect a pandemic. But unfortunately for the whole world, now everyone feels my pain.
So, I was thinking this week of the few things we changed that really helped us continue on when everything around us was uprooted. I hear a lot of people saying they’re trying to find their “new normal.” I don’t really like that phrase much. Nothing about this is “normal,” and yet, it’s the path ahead of us. So I hope that what we’ve learned in our torrent of changes will help you in yours…
Finding a New Stride:
Give yourself grace to make drastic changes. I had to let go of our bedtime routine. The one thing our family did consistently. Story time every night. While it was my favorite time of day and our very special time with daddy, it was too painful for my children to try to carry that on without him. Instead, I gave our family the grace of watching a 15 minute portion of The Inbestigators on the television after they were ready for bed and before sleep. It’s hilarious! And it’s possibly the only way I can get my girls to snuggle with me. A win win.
(Inbestigators is an Austrailian kid-detective show. It’s clean, whitty, and I laugh out loud every episode! Netflix original.)
Guard alone time. When we found ourselves with one day’s notice to begin home schooling in January (that’s a whole other story!), I realized that I needed time alone more than ever to decompress and process. After talking with my children, I realized they needed the same thing. So we decided that after lunch time, we would retreat to our own rooms for 1 hour. We call this our resting hour. The one time of day we know we will get to be alone and enjoy solitude. This is hard for my extrovert, but it is mission critical for my introvert. So we give-and-take.
Let go of your ability to keep a meal plan. I learned to get creative and give myself a lot of grace with what I served at dinner. Especially in a writing season like I’m in now, I feel pretty great about a late night cereal for dinner. I am OK with that.
Develop selective vision. I am still unpacking boxes. I can only handle one about a week, but little-by-little. As I can manage. This requires a lot of emotional strength for me as each box feels like opening the casket all over again. There’s definitely no sense of normal when you’re in the middle of a move. So I have learned to develop selective vision. I try not to see all the clutter of all the things I don’t know where to put yet. And that reduces some stress. Pure old fashioned denial is good medicine every now and then.
Stay tethered to the Lord. The quick pace of the news changing has mirrored my personal life in the last several months as well. When my good friend and I can’t talk for a few days, I have a soap opera and another episode of CSI of my own real life to catch her up on. The level of volatility and quick pace of change in my life has caused me to learn this one thing. To stay tethered to the Lord. Each step, every minute, every hour. He’s our Ever Present Help in Time of Need.
One hour at a time. I have no options of making plans too far out. I have just take one step at a time. Grief comes in waves, so you can’t be too committal. A holiday party may sound like the perfect thing for my heart one day or a total disaster another. So you learn to ride that wave on the hour of. This is hard for firstborn planner types like me, but I am learning that it’s the only way I can keep my head above water. Looking too far out causes everything to overwhelm and overtake me. I learned that in deployment, to not face more than just today. Truly as Jesus taught us, to day has plenty of trouble of its own.
Laugh about it. I’ve actually had a few friends call me when situations go from bad to worse. They ask me how I handle it. I say, “I just laugh. It’s either laugh or completely break down. So just laugh!” Laughter is an amazing coping mechanism and a great way to reduce stress in your own body and in the dear souls in the room with you when more shtuff hits the fan.
Give what you lack. In my recent lack, I have also learned the power of giving. I have learned to welcome people into my home and feed them and pour into them when I need to be fed and welcomed myself. I have learned to give away the things I am holding on to for security, like cookies and toilet paper.
In my years of chronic illness, I learned to trust and believe the Lord when he says that those who fear him lack no good thing. (Don’t believe me? : ) Read Pslalm 84.) Therefore if I feel like I’m lacking something, then it really wasn’t the “goodest” thing for me. And I can lean in to his faithfulness and trust that it’s true. I lack no good thing.
Everything I write is laced with prayer, redemption, and the bliss of surrender.
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This is very helpful for me, Danita, as I walk through an unwanted, blindsiding divorce that’s going to be final this month. And an unwanted downsizing (major!) and move to I- don’t-know-where-yet . Plus, it mirrors so much if my own experience in the past few months.
Thank you so much. And thank You, Lord!