Back to Normal. Just ponder this simple little phrase for a minute. For me, the only time this phrase really applies is after a vacation. During vacation, you truly are out of your norm. Returning home, you get back to the grind, back to 'normal'. In any other situation, 'back to normal' is impossible.
The specific application of this phrase that sparked this blog post refers to the passing of one of my friend's sons. After the funeral was over, and the weekend following, she was told, now it's time to get back to normal. I'm sorry, but that's just not even in the same universe of possibility. I've struggled with the term 'normal' in general for years. I had a son who was not 'normal' by conventional standards, but 'normal' for him and our family. Occasionally, he would do things out of his 'norm', but then we would have a new 'norm'. 'Normal' is so relative. What's normal for me would have been complete chaos for you. And this is just in every day life, not when there has been a death. Death takes 'normal' to an entirely different level.
We are expected to bury our parents. They came before us, they are older than us, they will die before us. 'Normal'. Once you lose one, your normal becomes different. Where you may have called Mom every day and talked about nothing, now you can't because she's gone. Or, when you need help around the house and Dad was your go-to guy, once he's gone, you have to find another go-to guy. It all hurts, but we've accepted this as a 'normal' progression in our lives. Losing a child is not 'normal', not really anymore. I'm sure people would argue with me about child mortality rates of old, but in this day and age, with modern medicine etc, we in America, are not expected to lose a child. It does, however, happen. Once it happens to you, your 'normal' is completely obliterated. So trying to get back to it is impossible, because 'normal' doesn't exist anymore.
Me, being two years out from my son's death, I have a different perspective on 'normal'. My friend's recent loss has brought back a lot of issues for me, and shone light on things I didn't know were in the dark. I can look back and see that life does get 'normal'. Maybe my main problem with the phrase is the 'back to' part. You can't get back what is gone. The 'normal' life you had with your child in it is in the past, never to be lived again. Anything that happens after your child's death is part of a 'new normal', but not 'getting back to' normal. Eventually, you will realize this. 'Normal' falls around you, without you even realizing it. You look up one day and realize, "wow, six months, eight months, 12 months have gone by and I'm still here, without my child, but I'm still here and there's a routine"; your new 'normal'.
As I said, I've had an issue with the word 'normal' for years. Now, I guess I don't like 'back to' either.