We have reached week three of our series on Worden’s Four Tasks of Mourning. This week we are talking about the third task which is to adjust to an environment where the deceased is missing. This task focuses on working on finding a new normal without our loved one with us. If you have not read the last two posts about the first and second task, I would take a pause on this post to read those first.
I used the title “adjusting” instead of “adjustment” because I feel like we are going to be actively adjusting to this new environment without our loved one for a long period of time after their death. Like the pain of grief, having that moment of realization that our loved one will not be there to take on a certain role or be a part of a day is going to happen over and over again. Each time there’s a big event like a graduation, wedding, new baby, or even a playoff game with their favorite sports team, we are going to have to adjust some sort of expectation we had once dreamed for ourselves. But before these big moments come, we have small daily adjustments that we do not think about when our loved one first dies. These changes could include someone new taking us to school, someone new cooking dinner, having to learn how to pay certain bills, and who is kissing us goodnight.
When adjusting to these new daily routines, I suggest having as much consistency as possible. Especially when we’re talking about routines that include kiddos, consistency can give us that little bit of sanity that we are missing while we are in some of the deepest pain of our grief. Before your children go back to school after a loss, if dad or grandma used to take them to school, try to designate who is going to be the new person and stick to it as much as possible. Another thing to think about during this period is how you are going to be kind to yourself in this adjustment period. You are not going to be able to do everything that you did before your loved one died for awhile. You do not have to be a superhero. While you’re adjusting to this new life without your loved one, you have to allow yourself to take time to complete tasks and to allow yourself to not want to go and do everything you used to do. You’re allowed to take a break if you need a night in.
A last thing to think about is that the adjustments may not be day to day adjustments. They may be adjustment of traditions that we had with our loved ones. If you spent the holidays at your mom’s house, you may end up hosting the holidays at least that year and the following years. If Grandpa always carved a turkey at Thanksgiving, that may be passed to a son or grandson instead. Instead of dealing with days like these, you may decide your new adjustment is to go on a cruise instead.
Adjustments after a death are going to happen. Some are immediate and some may happen over time as we’re finding our new normal. I hope that during this period you have a support system to help you make decisions and that you allow yourself to not have all the answers right off the bat. You may have to adjust and readjust if things aren’t working and that’s ok! I think one of the most important things in our grief is to allow ourselves grace in these times of stress and uncertainty.
What adjustments did you have to make after the death of your loved one? Comment what your thoughts are and I hope to see you all next week for the fourth task!