The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that I recently changed the name of my blog from ‘Multilayered Musings of New Normality’ to ‘Multilayered Musings from the Mourning Light’.
This is not a thinly veiled marketing ploy for my book, Living in the Mourning Light (honestly!) but there is a significant contributing factor that led to the change.
First and foremost, I think that the phrase New Normality has become seriously overworked by the media to represent our post Covid life (whenever that should arrive).
To any griever, new normality is the planet on which you find yourself after you lose a loved one.
I had no need to notice or acknowledge the saying prior to losing James, but when I joined the Compassionate Friends, soon after his death in 2005, I realised that new normal was a common descriptor for the post loss arena in which the griever lives.
To a bereaved parent, new normality – certainly early on in grief, is all the following:
- Waking every morning with a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach, wishing you could turn back the clock. That is one of the hardest things to bear in early grief; the first few moments of waking when reality slams into your heart again and again with the knowledge that your beautiful child is gone.
- A constant refrain running through your mind which may begin ‘If only … or why me … or, how could this have happened?
- A feeling of emptiness that leaves your heart aching and your mind racing, or vice versa
However, there is better news to come. As time passes, you realise that your new normal becomes your current normal and you can face the days with more action and fewer tears.
Your new normal becomes a mask that you put on the moment you wake. In the early days, that mask used to slip on my way home from work. I would drive home through a haze of crying and shouting to the world that what had happened was not fair. But these incidences gradually lessened. New normal morphs into current normal and ultimately to old normal. You cannot change what has happened, so you have to adapt to what is happening today, tomorrow and the following days.
In Covid terms, new normality is already establishing itself in many respects, for example with the relative ease with which we have become accustomed to seeing others wearing masks. The term social distancing has fallen into our everyday language. I wish I had shares in Zoom! – for this is one of the platforms via which we have become adept at meeting with others, virtually. It has become new normality to wish others to stay safe at the end of phone calls and emails. New normal is less face-to-face contact, less shopping, and worst of all, less hugs!
We talk of tiers and tears in the same breath. That’s not normal at all, whether new or old.
New normality will not be the same as old normality. How can it be? when we are not the same people that we were before – and that applies to Covid as well as to grief and grieving.
In the same way, the mourning light is not the same as the light in which I lived before loss. However, the mourning light represents to me the absolute best that I can hope for, the best that I can BE, all the time whilst travelling through the grieving process, not just for James, but for those other family members and friends whom I have lost.
The positives of the mourning light are that it is a gentler place. It is softer, kinder and more forgiving.
Will that be the new normal of Covid when it is over and when some time has elapsed, as it has since we lost James? This year is our sixteenth without him.
How will we all feel, I wonder, when the Covid pandemic is a 16 year old memory? It is impossible to contemplate and envisage now.
In 2005 I found it impossible to contemplate and envisage life 16 years after loss. And yet, here I am … proving it is possible to live a fulfilled, joyful, hopeful, optimistic and happy life in the mourning light. I am thankful for the innate resilience which propels me forward on a daily basis.
Perhaps we should name the post Covid times the extraordinary era. Extraordinary is a word that fascinates; break it down and you have two words, extra and ordinary. But the extra doesn’t mean an added bit of parmesan on your pasta or gravy on your roast dinner – rather it is meant to convey something outside, thus ‘outside of ordinary.’ That neatly sums up what has happened to our, previously taken for granted, ordinariness.
Something extraordinary goes above and beyond what is expected and this can be good or bad. I think I will coin this term for future use: here we are, living in the mourning light, in the extraordinary post COVID-19 era.
There you have it; my first 2021 multi-layered musing from the mourning light. Hopefully it is extraordinary!