Our roles in life outline us. Parent, spouse, student, employee, sibling, and offspring are some examples. Our identity is shaped by these roles.
Before my husband’s death, my defining roles were mother, wife and caregiver. With 3 young kids and a terminally unwell husband, these responsibilities took up the majority of my waking hours. When Greg died, that modified dramatically. In the aftermath of this loss, I naturally felt lost and confused. Much of this was due to grieving his absence. However, as time passed, I spotted that I was additionally grieving the loss of my roles of wife and caregiver. I used to be grieving the loss of my identity.
It might appear not possible to reinvent or rediscover ourselves at such a tough time in our lives. The mother and father who lose a child, the son or daughter who loses a parent, the sibling who loses a brother or sister. All of us face a drastic change within the relationships and functions that create up our identity.
At initial we tend to feel off-balance and unsure of the direction we have a tendency to should take. There’s a big hole in our being that needs to be filled. Several people feel depressed and suffer a general lack of interest or lethargy. This is natural and, if we have a tendency to don’t get stuck here, can allow us needed time for reflection before starting the work of recovery.
I’ve got experienced and observed other “action” responses to the opening in our identity caused by the loss of our important roles. These embody over-working, over-parenting and substitution.
Throwing ourselves into our work could be a terribly common response to this gap in our lives. Letting our professional identity become all-encompassing may be a panacea in our society to atone for voids in our life. Work is typically necessary, provides normalcy amidst upheaval, and offers us a way of accomplishment. But over-working prevents moving forward though grief and is not a satisfying long-term fix for the underlying loss of self.
If we are a parent, we have a tendency to could respond to our void by over-parenting. This can be common after we have lost a child or a spouse. In my case, I lost my husband and have become the only real parent of our three kids. It was instinctive to attempt to be both mother and father to my children. I exhausted myself making an attempt to form certain their lives did not skip a beat. Whereas it had been necessary to grant my grieving youngsters extra time and a focus, I was trying to fill the loss of my roles as wife and caregiver by over-parenting them. It wasn’t useful to them. They needed to face the reality that their lives were forever changed. And I used to be neglecting my own emotional and psychological progress through my grief.
Substitution could be a reaction that may eventually work into a viable solution. Or it can be quite destructive. Returning to graduate college enabled me to feature the role of student. A few years later, I found immense satisfaction in working with different bereaved children and adults. In the aftermath of her son’s death, my sister volunteered to figure with the teenager group at her church. One elderly man who lost his invalid wife began operating at the local senior center’s lunch program. Substituting new roles that bring a sense of self-satisfaction is a positive step forward.
On the negative facet, marrying timely once the death of a spouse is a kind of substitution that can have disastrous results. Using medication and alcohol as substitutes are obvious damaging behaviors.
Though none of us would have chosen to have our roles “burned”, redefining ourselves and our identity are opportunities to become a higher, more compassionate person. With knowledge and care, positive personal growth can be achieved within the aftermath of pain and loss.