There are transitions and then...there are transitions. The transition from elementary school to high school is, in hindsight, not as big as it seemed back then. Nor is the transition from age 69 to 70. However, life is full of many  kinds of transitions. Becoming a quadriplegic after being an athlete (or not) demands adjustments that are beyond the imaginations of most of us. Moving from being a single person to being a married person, though exciting and joy-filled, is also a large change in our that demands a daily commitment. Moving into retirement years is big, but for many/most of us it is eventually, if not immediately, a positive experience. Then there is the transition of living without someone you love deeply. These transitions from being a joyfully married person to being a widow/er or from being  the parent of a happy toddler to losing that toddler to an accident or disease are about as difficult as transitions can get. Finally there is the transition we call aging which, if you think about it, starts the minute we are born, but which we don't think much about until we get into our 70s or even 80s.

From our Galena, Illinois Bed and Breakfast.....

At 74, I do not think of myself as old even though my body does not cooperate the way it did twenty years ago. Yes, there was a day when I could easily run three miles every morning. And it seems like yesterday that Bill and I hiked to 11,500 feet in the San Juan Mountains of the Rockies without even the slightest question of whether or not we could do it.
Picture our acres and acres of peaceful Wisconsin woods, meadows, and creeks complete with deer, birds, and yes, even wild turkey.
I remember our frequent 50 mile bicycle rides and doing yard work all day without an ache or a pain the next morning. I never thought about the possibility of falling but that was before I fell a few times in the last couple of years and broke some bones or tore a ligament. And then there was a day when names did not allude me...and when endless energy was mine, all mine.
Those days of endless energy are pretty much gone now. I tire more easily and find myself taking naps almost daily. I tend to chalk this energy drain up to the last stress-filled 9 years of my life; a life of care giving, watching Bill die slowly, the exhaustion and grief following Bill's death and the adjustment to life without him. But frankly, age does play its part in this also.
On the flip side I continue to have hope that I will regain energy and health and that eventually joy will visit my life more often. I look forward to the day when my watercolor paintings can be called art and when the pile of unread books sitting next to my chair are added to the shelves full of those I have read and enjoyed. I look forward to the day when being alone on a given evening feels OK...not great...but OK.

Most of all, I look forward to experiencing whatever my new normal is to be,
because this surely can't be it....
or can it?

For Reflection
Have you lost someone who is significant to you?
What does your new normal look like?
What do you need to do to make it more comfortable?

Bereavement Counselor Marty Tousley addresses transitions on her Grief Healing Blog
Related to: acceptance, general grief, life changes, transition


Helene Domi
06/09/2014 7:38am

Transitions should be one of George Carlin's dirty words (he had a comedic standup bit of the words you couldn't say on TV.) I absolutely hate change and my life is all about changes right now. The biggest transition was losing my mom, my best friend. I was with her 24/7 for 6 months prior to her death. I watched her die.
I went through almost the same scenario in 2003-2004 with my big brother.I watched him die. So, now WHAT? I have no new normal. I don't think there is one.

06/09/2014 1:02pm

My dear Helene,
I am so sorry for your losses. Yes, losing your best friend and mom is so significant. It takes time to create the new normal. It sort of evolves over time until one day there you are. I am not quite there yet after the death of Bill either but it will come to be someday. Believe that, grieve your losses, and be in the moment.
Peace to your heart,

Anne Gorman
06/09/2014 10:22am

Oh, for some of the "good 'ol days" when we were young and full of that energy we used to have!
I am still very much in transition. My normal is gone and I don't know if I'll ever be comfortable with how my life is now. We shall see.

06/09/2014 1:04pm

Anne, you and I have lost one normal and I think comfort can be defined in many ways. Sort of like new shoes, we have to break in our new life until it feels comfortable. I think it takes time and persistence but I and us will never be the same. But a new kind of comfortable is possible.

06/09/2014 12:38pm

I think what I have found most enervating and humbling during these times is that just when I think I am getting my balance back, some new little or big chafe happens, and I feel that I need two emotional walking poles to keep my balance again. The positive is that I am learning to handle those poles fairly well, and maybe that is how life is going to be now: learning to use more help and go forward a bit more carefully. I fell at the post office last week, because one of the "mud rugs" was crushed together and left that way, and was so dark no one could see the waves of standing fabric. I fell to the floor and have a bruise on my right knee, but I was all right. It scared me though, because it is from such falls that we begin to be more cautious.
Yes, normal is gone in so very many ways. I don't think I am every going to have that contented safe feeling again when I fall asleep or wake up, but I am looking forward to a peaceful substitute instead.

Mary Friedel-Hunt
06/09/2014 1:09pm

I do like the idea of the emotional walking poles. Something we all need following a huge significant loss. I do agree, falling makes us more aware. I hope your knee heals completely. I fell on Memorial Day bringing my printer, external hard drive, table, router and modem down with me. Bentley then leaped on me so there we all were. I will always look at that step now when I come from my art studio to my office. :) It is hard to say if things like feeling safe will return. The safety and content we had is gone...What lies ahead has to include them in some way.

06/09/2014 2:59pm

I fear that our new normal may have to be 'it' until we move onto a new phase governed by aging. At almost 73 I'm aware that I'm lucky to have good health, even though it's a bitter-sweet thing when I can't share it with my beloved partner Pete. I tell myself to enjoy what I can in this phase of my life as it can be snatched away so easily. I'm glad that years ago I didn't feel this vulnarabilty. Oh dear this sounds so negative. I must end on a positive note. Like you and Bill, my dear Mary, Pete and I had many wonderful experiences. I can tap into them. And I can still enjoy my life in small bites. When I feel small pleasures I now feel good about them, because I know my Pete feels that way.

06/10/2014 8:29am

Dear Jan, I do not see you as negative at all. I like your statement about "enjoying life in small bites". I believe it is the only way to live. And yes, the small pleasures mean so much. Thanks for your comments. Mary

06/09/2014 4:37pm

Transitions! Oh no! Everything keeps changing and I have to adjust. I hear Vic saying in response to life's aggravations,"It doesn't get any better than this." He was right and it's still true. I have to make life work now just as you are making it work.

Thanks, Mary, for your helpful pieces and honest perspective. I appreciate you.

06/10/2014 8:31am

You are so right, Elaine. You and I and so many others are making it work as it we also keep growing and healing. Thank you for reading my blog and commenting. I so appreciate yours also.

12/21/2014 8:42am

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