The New Me…The Old You

sunset-gulf-shoresThe longer I move through the mountains and valleys associated with child loss, the more I understand how different not only my life is, but how different my inner being is from the one it used to be. And….it’s even easier to see how different I am from the old you….my friends and family that have been able to move on from the devastating loss that my immediate family has experienced. The loss of my son, as I have shared before, has drastically changed the “me” that I used to be.

The old me was carefree and always looking for good in life. I had experienced losses before, but with those….I could look at it differently than I have been able to with the loss of Aaron. With those losses, I could understand that they were no longer suffering or hurting…that their loss, as hard as it may have been….followed the natural order of life. So, I could pick myself up pretty quickly and as others say, “move on”. Because, isn’t that the ultimate goal…to move on??? In some losses, yes…we do move on and we do learn to find our way back to the old self still within us….almost as if the light has been left on so that we can find our way back to ourselves. With the loss of a child…the light that used to shine inside of us doesn’t come back on to help us find our way back to the “old” us. For some time, it seems like there’s no light on at all within us. Because…the”old” us died the day we learned of our child’s passing, thus snuffing out the “old” light of ourselves. So, we are left wandering in the dark…deep,within our souls, desperately searching for the normal that used to be…only to find that it is to never be again.

I’ve said it before, and I know you’ve heard others say it too, but losing a child, changes the person you always knew yourself to be. Of course, the first life altering change I felt is the enduring sadness that invades our hearts….day in and day out. Despite what you may see on the outside….inside, we are living with a pain that isn’t comparable to anything else in this world. It is by far the worst pain I have ever faced in my life. We may put on a good front…we may even seem like our old selves at times, but don’t let us fool you…that enduring pain and sadness is still inside…just as strong as it ever was. Can you imagine how hard it is to carry on as if nothing happened….when inside, our pain never leaves? I know that we all put on masks at some point in our life…we act like everything is ok when it isn’t. But this kind of mask is heavier than any I have ever worn…it’s the hardest mask to hold in place. Acting as if I am happy when I feel so completely opposite on the inside is extremely taxing. As a matter of fact, wearing the mask of child loss is by far, not only the hardest mask I’ve ever worn, but the most exhausting one I’ve ever worn.

Another life altering change for me has been the lack of motivation to just do the normal things that life requires of you as an individual. I can wake up in the morning with the best intentions of getting some things accomplished…cleaning my house, going to the grocery store, or just doing some shopping like I used to do. The thing that’s different now….I can hardly stand to be in public. I mean…sometimes, I have great intentions of going out and getting errands run, but once I get out in public…out and about and around people living their normal lives and hearing their trivial complaints…I grow weary and all I want to do is to get home as quickly as I can. I know that sounds absolutely crazy, but I just can’t deal all of that stimuli…all of the triggers….”My son is turning 24 tomorrow.”, “Did you hear about so and so’s daughter????”, “I like the way these dishes look.” I just don’t have room inside of me for the small talk…for the gossip about whose kids are doing what….I mean today, it was looking at school shoes for my grandkids that triggered a self-preservation mode that brought me home in a matter of twenty minutes. Looking for those shoes triggered memories of looking for school shoes for Aaron and Taylor. I mean something so simple becomes a huge reminder prompting deep emotional feelings of heartache.

Something else that has changed for me is the desire to want to be involved in social gatherings. I know that I’ve mentioned this before, but a year and a half later…I’m still finding that to be a true statement. I can make plans that sound fabulous at the time, but when it comes down to it, I just can’t make myself partake in most of what I plan. I often find myself dreading the event the closer it gets…each day closer to the event, I begin to think of reasons why I can’t go….and I usually back out. I know that sounds horrible, but it’s the absolute truth. At times, I’ve told people, “I’ll try my best to make it….but no promises”, and that seems to work pretty well. But the more time passes, I think people begin to feel like I should be getting back into the swing of things….getting back out there in the midst of “life”. What do I have to say to that? “Unless you’ve walked in my shoes…unless you have walked my journey of laying your child to rest in a graveyard, you have no idea how it feels to be in the midst of those whose world has never stopped….who don’t understand the pain I feel deep within…in the midst of those who still have all of their children. It’s something that sets the new me and the old you apart. Although you may have known me before, you don’t know me now….and that’s hard not only for me, but for you as well.

So, while I look like I’m doing so well….remember that I’m really not. Deep within, I still wake up each and every day with the reality that my Aaron is never coming through my door and saying, “Hey mom!”. Remember that while I may be laughing, I still carry within me the realization that my child did die. While I laugh and smile….my thoughts are most of the time not where your thoughts are….

I am the new me and you are the old you….It’s going to take some reacquainting to get to know each other again. It may be awkward at times…and it may be hard for you to hear my sadness again and again…but that’s the only way that we will get to know each other again. As I read in an article last week….get to know me, because I’m not who I once was.

Thank you to those of you that have worked to get to know me again…I know it’s hard, and I so appreciate your patience with a mother grieving the loss of her son. I hope that you never understand my grief…I only hope you can walk beside me in mine.

Get to know the new me with the old you….

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75 thoughts on “The New Me…The Old You

  1. You are not alone. I walk with you. I feel the same. I speak very fee old friends. The fee I do are special. I speak ton only a few family members. I have a hard time doing the normal things. I try. I really do. I too have good intentions. We can try together. I’m sending you love and good wishes for an okay day.

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    1. I have often wondered about my own issues that you have dealt with in your loss, and now my thoughts and actions make more sense to me tho all the time we wish we could go back to who we were before. We do live a different emotional life but I can only shout to myself “its just not fair” and why did this happen. Never an answer and never pushing it completely away. Thank you for explaining so well.

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  2. Thank you for writing this. As I was reading I was remembering (I’m assuming) the article you referenced here. It was a new thing to try and understand and put in your perspective. I will certainly be more mindful of this as I move through life…

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  3. I sit here reading this on the third anniversary of losing my 23 year old son and all I can sadly say is that truer words have never been spoken. I understand. πŸ’”

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      1. 23 seems to be a terrible point in life for our children…I lost my son in December 2016, he was 23. As for changes, I was an energetic person. At 59 (at the time of his passing), I felt like 39. Now at 60, just over 7 months after he died, I feel much older and less vigorous…and I know it is an emotional reaction to his death. I just don’t feel like doing the things that kept me young.

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      2. Same here Glenn. Three years later but I feel so much more older. I’m definitely “better” than I was soon after losing Erik but a far cry from who I used to be.

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      3. I’m so sorry for your loss as well. Thank you for sharing in your grief as your words and thoughts are truly comforting. Peace to you today.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I’m so sorry for your loss as well. Thank you for sharing in your grief as your words and thoughts are truly comforting. Peace to you today.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I totally agree and understand I am not the woman I was I have lost friends I helped a lot because I can no longer be there for them They have completely cut me out of their lives I am almost alone in my grief Why is life so cruel 😒I lost both my son’s
    Shane died 12/Nov /2014
    Jason died 17 /Nov /2014
    It will be Shane birthday 19 August
    And Jason birthday 16 September Two birthdays close togethere And their deaths 5 days apart 😒😒Miss them so much Xxx

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    1. So sorry you lost both of your son’s. I also lost my only two son’s, Jesse at 33-17 years ago and Justin 23 seven years ago. I truly understand and relate to this article so much and I hate this grief and alone feeling in my life. I try, I really do to just participate in general life, but I know I will never be who I was either, Happy for people but not for myself, how could I be”? All of this time has gone by and I still feel as I have just been stuck in time. This is just so unfair and still glad I raised a niece and step-daughter, but life really would have been so much more better if I never lost my two son’s. Hope you find a speckle of happiness some how, some way from inside out… Debbie

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  5. How perfectly you capture the struggle to be true to the new me while trying to stay connected to those who knew the old me. It is exhausting. I want nothing more than to go where the new me can live truly and openly. Too many responsibilities, unfortunately, prohibit that. For now. Thank you for sharing.

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  6. You described exactly how I feel. It has been 1 year and 2 months without my Noah and I feel so lost, hurt, sad, alone. I am exhausted all the time. I actually posted a week or so back how my friends don’t understand how tired I am on the weekends and sleep most of one the days. It is exhausting getting thru the work week trying to wear the mask of ” I am ok”.

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  7. I am keeping this post on my home screen! I found it when I came home early from a family function. I made my husband read it cuz ur described exactly why I left.. I lost my 20 year old a year ago and I miss her so much.. I feel trapped in this nitemare .. but this nitemare is my reality now.. praying for all of us …

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  8. Thank you for sharing this. Written so well and expresses most of what I feel. I have recently moved so I have only 1 friend now where I live. She’s also a bereaved mom. I’m lonely most of the time. Maybe it’s a good thing??

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  9. This says everything I feel. My sweet boy has been gone 14 years and it’s still the same. He would have graduated high school next year. Those missed milestones are so incredibly painful.

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  10. I have not lost a child but as I sit here writing this I am crying for all the Mother;s who have lost their children. I just want to hug all of you and say, “it’s ok, be who you are. ” I understand as best as I can,.I pray for all of you.

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  11. I lost my 28 year old son 2 months ago. He died unexpectedly. He ran a wonderful family business and was a volunteer firefighter. He was full of life and love. We are so heartbroken for ourselves and his twin brother and sisters. Thank you for writing this. I couldn’t of said it better myself. God Bless all of us and may he give us the strength to accept the new me!

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  12. Hi, this is a long comment but I shared this to my Facebook page a couple of days ago…it’s about triggers like you mentioned here…It’s a daily struggle for sure:

    The urban dictionary defines trigger (not the gun part) as “something which causes intense emotional and physical reactions”. Jacob used the word often in his battle to stay in recovery. Triggers can happen in times of grief too…like today.

    I always struggled a little with flying, even though my dad is an excellent pilot. A couple of traumatic incidences in my younger life led me to a fear of dying that way. I never wanted to miss out though, so a little silent prayer always gave me the peace I needed to relax and have a fun time.
    This morning I was in need of a ride from Wasilla to Talkeetna and I’m blessed enough to have a dad who loves to fly his helicopter and is always happy to lend a hand (especially on a perfect, blue sky day). 🚁
    A few minutes after being airborne, I realized that I hadn’t flown with him since before February 26th. I felt an intense overwhelming sadness (a trigger) when I got a picture of my lifeless child being flown out of the Talkeetna mountains that day in this helicopter. I didn’t let my dad know how I felt because I knew it would trigger his memory of that day too. He needed to fly, not tear up. 😒
    I never have asked questions about that traumatic event and he has never told me.

    Another feeling happened too. My fear of flying or dying is now completely gone. Jacob’s death has changed me in that way. I’m ok with it now. If God says it’s my time to go, I’ll be with people I love. If He says I need to stay, I’ll be with people I love. I look at it now as a win-win.

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  13. It’s been just 3 months since losing my beautiful 27 year old son Jordan. My only child. I so feel your pain with you. You’ve expressed my new reality so very well. May we find a sense of peace to be able to carry on.

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  14. These words perfectly describe the emotions and reactions of my wife and I after the loss of our son on February 26, of this year. He was just shy of his 23rd birthday. We have both spoken of how we will never be the same people we once were and that many of our friends and family can’t ever understand. No one on this Forum has chosen this change, it has invaded our old lives and thrust us into a hell that is our new reality.

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  15. You have described life EXACTLY as it is .. It could not be more accurate.. I lost my little girl Abigail”Abbie” just over 2 years ago May 18 2015 she was 11 years 3 mos and 21 days old …. That’s it , That is all she got to live .. Ashe LOVED life she loved astronomy she loved soccer , her family , friends , was excited/anxious abt Starting middle school in Aug and finally riding the schoolbus .. unfortunately she never got to do those things or SO many other things that was robbed from her … She went over her friends house after school and she was killed crossing the street , she had just gotten off the phone with me to ask permission to go , I said “yes baby as long as your HW is done ” she said “yup it is I love u I will see you at 5:30” I blame myself for saying YES ,This was a very publicized event and to make it worse someone videotaped her lying on the street dying and posted it all over social media and it got over 5 million views (sickening) I have never seen it and thank God it has been removed.. But in all honesty I just want her back I say it so much I have lost so much family and friends I cannot understand why ? I read these comments and see it’s not just me … I am so so sorry for everyone’s loss I hate this “new life” and yes I look put together from the outside , I have 3 other kids but Abbie was the baby Our son Vinny is 22, Gabbie is 19,& Maddie is 18 Maddie will be leaving (sadly the last one out of the house ) for WVU in 4 days 😦 I am 41 and I will be an empty nester way too soon … My husband works and I am home and home is hard but out is worse it’s like there is nowhere to run …. I just want my old life back as I’m sure everyone here does ..(((hugs)))
    Lisa

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    1. You don’t know me but your Abbie sounds so much like our beautiful Samantha. We lost Samantha May 16, 2016 to sudden cardiac arrest. I hope you don’t mind but I visited your Facebook page for Abby and immediately knew Samantha must know her in heaven. The Winnie the Pooh quote you have on the page is what we placed on Sam’s garden urn. I know you cry and grieve everyday as do most parents who lose their heart. Samantha passed away one week before our other daughter Madison graduated high school, within 3 months we went from a family of 4 to just my husband and I in the house (my dogs are now very spoiled). I just wanted you to know I will pray for you all and your sweet girl.

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      1. Thank you for visiting her Facebook Page … it truly means so much to me that something I wrote touched someone enough to look into Abbie’s life … πŸ’”πŸ’œπŸ’”πŸ’œπŸ˜’πŸ˜’πŸ˜‡βš½οΈπŸ’βœ¨ You are so right I also hope that Abbie has found the Children of all the beautiful broken hearted parents I have met and come to love like family …. My sons Birthday is May 16 😦 and Now that day is SO sad for you and it’s hard for me as well it’s 2 days before we lost our baby … I’m still up all hours of the night in complete tears many times I want to just die … I know I can’t because I have 3 living Children and an amazing Husband that needs me by his side as much as I need My kids and Him !! I just want to wake up to my old life so so badly … I ask people to like Her Page and share it to keep her memory alive and growing like she should be .. I am so so incredibly sorry for the loss of your beautiful Samantha life is not fair ….

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  16. People have told me when I write, I’m writing what they’re thinking and I speak for them. Your piece speaks to me 100%. There are two differences; I’m a Father and I lost a Daughter. I saw someone post your writing, then I posted it to my group. It’s spreading like wildfire. Sorry you know this all too well. Five years in and I’m still tenuous with social gatherings.

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      1. you have captured my sentiments. This is a journey that no parent should have to walk. My son passed away Jan. 2016 at the age of 26. I truly believe my heart stopped beating for a moment. I know I will never be the same again. People tell me how “well” I am doing, but I know what I have lost in this fire. May God continue to bless and strengthen you on your journey. I truly hate that you understand my pain, but I am glad someone gets it.
        – signed….Missing My Boy!

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  17. When I read your son’s name I felt like all the air was sucked out of me. We lost our only son, Aaron, in 2013. He was three weeks shy of his 17th birthday. He had battled brain/spinal tumors for 5 and a half years. I could have written each word in this post. I work, I put on a happy face, I raise awareness and money for childhood cancer awareness and research projects, but I feel like I’m disconnected from the old me. It’s somehow comforting to know that other grieving parents feel the same as me. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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  18. While reading I was just thinking how I feel the exact same way. You put my thoughts into words. My son was 26 when he was killed in a plane crash in May 2016. It is tiring putting a smiling face on everyday for the world. I force myself to venture out in the world to try and have some semblance of normal life, but when I am alone everything just comes crashing down. Thank you for sharing.

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  19. Thank you so much for sharing this, a really close friend of mine found this and posted it on my timeline. I lost my only child Thanksgiving Day 2010, she was 27 and the vehicle that she was a passenger in was hit head on by an impaired driver. Her birthday is this Saturday, those of us who did not choose to be in this club know all too well that the days leading up to birthdays, anniversaries and holidays are absolutely the worst. This is one of the most accurate portrayals of life after loosing a child. It does not get easier. I’m so very sorry for your loss.

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    1. Jan…I’m so sorry for your loss as well. This unfortunate bond is one that none of us would choose…nor would we wish it on anyone. It’s the worst thing a parent can experience. God bless you. Thank you so much for reading. πŸ’”

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  20. Losing one of my children is my biggest fear. It isn’t something that a parent can ever move past. I am so so sorry for your loss. Wishing you love and peace.

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  21. This blog is the most moving article written about the grieving Mom. My granddaughter died in her sleep last November. She was 4 1/2. The cause was cardiac arrest. The doctor said it was like SIDS. My daughter is feeling everything you have documented in your pain. She also has a blog about her daughter. Reading your blog has given me new insight as to how to help her, especially when people ask if she has any children. Her daughter was an only child and my daughter and her husband cannot have any more children. AT this time, she is at the stage where if she could, she would stay in bed all day and stare at the ceiling. Your words were good for me too as the Grandmother. The biggest one being will my daughter and her husband ever be able to move on? I have sent my daughter your blog to read. I think that it will be very helpful to read the pain of another Mom losing her child and realize that she is not alone in her grief. Thank you for the blog.

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    1. Thank you so much for reading and sharing, Pam. I am so sorry for your family’s loss. I know that you all are suffering from such a tragic loss. I’m glad that my words can help someone not to feel so alone…and I’m thankful that you found it helpful for you too. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!

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  22. I am grateful for the life I have and the people in it. I am grateful for the 36 years our family shared with my son.

    I grew up overnight when we lost our 3 month old infant son in 1975. I was, thankfully, already pregnant then, and had the good fortune to live a wonderful life full of love and gratitude with our wonderful daughter and our wonderful son. We lost him last year in August. Losing our first child made me into a fearful, socially awkward person. The change in me now is different, because I do have the gift of all those years of goodness, moments to relive in my head and in my heart. More fearful, and more socially awkward than even before, but more grateful than I can explain.

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