MLN-FrontPorch-14As a rule, even when communicating unpleasant information, Southern ladies use words that are as sweet as the tea they sip on the front porch. My grandma, however, believed that the most effective way to communicate unpleasant news was by speaking the plain, unvarnished truth.  She often said, “Life isn’t a bakery.  Therefore, I don’t sugar coat everything.”

When a relative asked me about the grieving process, I recalled Grandma’s wisdom and I didn’t sugar coat my remarks. I shared with this relative what I wish someone had told me at the time of my husband’s death: Your normal has been forever altered.  Then, I took the time to share a few other things I wish someone had told me.

You will be numb for awhile. During this period of numbness, you will likely function in a rational, efficient manner and folks will likely tell you how well you are holding up. Don’t believe them.  You aren’t holding up.  You haven’t yet begun to really grieve.

When the numbness wares off, you will feel episodes of acute sadness and hopelessness.  Some folks will suggest that you to ride out these episodes and wait for things to get back to normal.  Honey, there is no getting back to normal.  Your new life has begun, your normal is altered. You now need to concentrate on coping with the new normal.

Don’t expect grief to follow a per-ordained pattern or be like that of another person.  Each person’s grief is unique.

The dynamics of your nuclear family and extended family, as well as, friendships have changed and you have choices to make:

  • Will you remain sad and insist that others continue distracting you?
  • Will you remain sad but alone?
  • Will you sit on the sidelines and let life pass you by?
  • Will you to put some effort in to moving on and adapting to your new life?

As you adjust to your new normal, it is wise not to worry that you will screw things up – on occasion you will.  So focus on the fact that the screw-up(s) won’t be fatal and you may even learn a few good lessons from them. Understand that you are embarking on a rough trip into uncharted territory and you won’t always be in the driver’s seat.  Sometimes, you won’t even be a willing passenger.  But, this trip is necessary if you hope to regain a meaningful life.

Yes, your normal is forever altered.  But, all is not lost.   You have the ability to experience life, love, laughter and joy again.  So go for it.

Betty Freeman Haines, an author, lives in Mesquite, NV.  Her books/e-books, Reluctant Hero and Grieving Sucks or Does It, can be ordered from  Share your thoughts and opinions with her at