It’s no secret that my life now looks very different than it did the day Gabe went to heaven. My family went from 5 people to 4 in our home. Then eventually it went down to 3, my 2 surviving boys and me. As I sit back and look at the last 5 years something strikes me. I’m a very different person than I was then.
Grief changes us. But so does life. I think in life we slowly lose bits of ourselves to fit the roles we find ourselves in. Gradually we form an identity, and sometimes that identity takes over. I became a wife, then a mother, a heart mom no less. Eventually I was the mom of 3 boys, 2 of whom had pretty complex medical issues. My identity was wrapped up in a world of the typical mom stuff like playdates, and the not so typical world of doctor appointments, therapies, hospitals, and so many other tasks that consumed me as a mom- and as a person.
When I became single I was scared. Terrified, actually. I don’t know that anyone ever really plans on divorce, and going through it shook my world. All of the stability that was so difficult to rebuild after Gabe’s death was gone again. I started counseling and medication to help myself cope, and the day I started therapy felt like an empty shell. It felt like my joy and hope were gone. I had no idea how life could go on. It felt so unfair- to lose a child and then lose life as I knew it.
But I also knew from surviving the death of my son that walking forward was the only option. The grief of loss of a person is different than the grief from a marriage ending, but both are still grief. Both types of grief need processing and work to heal from.
As I worked through that new grief I started to realize that somewhere way back in time I had lost myself. Somewhere in the motherhood, somewhere in the years of caring for others I lost myself. I had no idea who I even was. It wasn’t an easy process, finding myself. There were so many tears, a large amount of anger, and tons of uncertainty. I began to rebuild my life and my identity and slowly began to bring back the parts of me that had been lost. Somewhere I found joy again, and confidence to tackle life. Once I found that joy and confidence, I was blessed to find love again, with someone who understands me on a level I didn’t think possible.
The past few years have definitely not been easy, but the strength, joy, and love that I have found make the struggles so worth it. I can fully appreciate the beauty because of the sorrows. I’m thankful.