It’s that time of year where many of us do some personal reflection. Many people like to spend time looking over the last year, in this case it’s 2012. Looking back over how your life has changed or has not changed and trying to find ways to improve upon it. I no longer look at just the last twelve months; I now look at by life as before and after the death of my children. The losses have become moments of my life that I measure myself against. My wife and I will have conversations about things that happened in the past and we find ourselves asking “did that happen before or after Katie and Noah.” I have found that there is a very clear difference between the two.
Before my losses (2004)
I was a self-absorbed asshole who really only worried about one person, himself. I really didn’t care about other people’s opinion of me or their problems; they were not mine, so why bother myself with them. I use to think that people used their problems as excuses for where they were in life. I was driven by all of the wrong things such as money, status, material and image. Back then I told myself that it was ok to be that way because I had a “plan” and no one or nothing was going to get in my way of achieving it. For those that follow this blog, you know that “my plan” didn’t go so well. However, it took me a while to realize this. I tried to pick up the pieces and get back on my plan shortly after the loss of my daughter, I didn’t know better. I went back to what I knew; I tried to fast forward as quickly as I could. Bad idea. I went to depths I never thought was possible for someone as “strong” as me. The pain eventually got the best of me and literally brought me to my knees. I so desperate wanted to come up for air, but I didn’t know which way was up so I continued to sink.
After my second loss (2006)
I had to be hit with a sledgehammer twice before I realized how wrong I was in the way I was living my life. I look back and just shake my head at how young, cocky and naive I was.
- I now live simple because I now realize money, status, image or material things do not come in and help you out of bed when you don’t think you can go on another day; days where you don’t care if you live or die.
- I have gained compassion because strangers taught me what it was by example.
- I became humble because it’s part of survival.
- I became transparent because I realized it’s harder to hold it in than to let it out.
- I became ok with sitting with someone in pain and speaking with them without dancing around the subject. I know what kind of gift this is because I have been on the receiving end of many of these gifts.
- My new “plan” is to enjoy life and not take things so seriously. Conquering the world is no longer my objective. Being able to smile and laugh is.
- I now use my “drive” to help others through the profound loss of a child.
- I no longer judge others. You never know what the person next to you has gone or going through.
I wish I could say all of these changes occurred overnight, but they didn’t. There were a lot of growing pains with the new found me. These growing pains and changes would not have occurred if I hadn’t lowered my guard and allowed myself to grieve and grow as a person.
We all know that it’s not possible to go back to the person we were before the loss of our children. However, I must say I like a lot of things about the new me. I also dislike some things about the new me that I will save for another time, but most of them revolve around the impact child loss has on one’s psychological/mental health state.
Have you done some personal reflection as we head into 2013? Tell me about the person before and the person after.