I have spent a lot of time around loss and death over the past years and have noticed when loss does arrive on a person’s doorstep uninvited that the ‘host’ often pines for their ‘normal’ to return. I noticed this with both my late brother Peter and my mother-in-law, Diane. Peter spent a fair bit of his last six months waiting for his normal health to return. Diane still aches for her normal to return after suffering a broken hip over a year ago.
I also hear people lamenting their loss of flexibility, loss of independence and loss of personal freedom longing for their normal to return. Believe me I do understand this often painful situation where we simply want things to go back to the way they were before the loss – back to a time when we were more comfortable in our skin.
Wanting our normal back though, is a way of denying that things have changed. It is a way of not moving forward with the way things actually are – an avoidance perhaps of needing to change and adjust, of having to learn new coping skills. It is a way of avoiding the grief associated with the loss or change.
It is rare indeed that ‘normal’ if there is such a thing, will ever return and our quest for it only serves to deepen our suffering or complaining. The only way through that I have found to work is to accept the loss and learn new skills to cope with the change.
I have noticed in myself a loss of leg strength especially when I am getting out of a low car seat. My normal was a simple grunt and up I would get. Now though, the normal grunt doesn’t work. I have had to add a ‘double rock’ in order to launch myself out of the low seat. Embarrassing to admit indeed. Truth is my new normal now includes both the grunt and the double rock and it is my way of dealing with the reality that I have less leg power than I did a few years ago.
This is a funny little example, I know, and yet it does demonstrate the principles I am trying to get across here. Accepting that constant change is our ‘normal’ and being willing to be a lifelong learner are steps that have helped me move forward in this ever changing life of mine.