"See, I am doing a new thing!"
-- Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)
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I never expected to spend the first two weeks of the new year planning a memorial service. But that's exactly what happened.
My family experienced an unexpected loss when my former husband passed away. His untimely death left my three sons devastated and faced with planning a service they had no idea how to do.
With a shoestring budget and the help of some friends, we stretched ourselves in creative ways we'd never imagined to put together a memorial service.
With God's grace I even spoke at the service. A few years ago I'd have told you I could never do that! However, tragedy can cause you to use a little ingenuity and stretch you to grow with God's help. And it was the way I could give my children my love and support.
Now the next step is finding a new normal.
Whenever a change comes or we make a change, such as those still sticking with their New Year's resolutions, it causes us to find a new routine.
Two of my sons had the routine of seeing their dad every day as he lived with them. The other one saw him at least twice a week. The absence of someone from your daily life can be devastating and awkward at first.
I remember the hardest thing about losing my parents was the absence of our daily or weekly conversations.
Putting pieces back together includes understanding that a new normal is a day-to-day process. Oftentimes, we think that we should be able to overcome our sadness or adjust to changes from our loss right away. Asking God to help us forgive and let go of any regrets sets us free from the "I wish I would have, should have, or could have done something different" syndrome.
Overcoming the grief includes going through the motions of everyday activities, be they returning to work, household chores or child care.
Taking care of your own self can be done by getting a little exercise when possible, just taking a walk helps increase our positive hormones and makes us feel better.
Some people enjoy viewing old photos, others like taking them down. You need to do what is right for you. There are no absolutes when mourning.
Ensuring you take steps to continue on with your life is important. God still has a plan for you.
Sometimes, you may discover a new purpose in your grief. You may decide to volunteer or get involved in helping in a charity or fighting for a cause.
One woman started baking cookies and taking them to the local nursing home. Getting out from her home and helping others made her feel alive and useful.
Learning a new normal means a change in lifestyle, but as we adjust and grow we become richer for the experience.
• Annettee Budzban is a Christian author, speaker, life coach and nurse. She can be contacted at 847-543-8413 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org