Why Grief Changes Our Personal Identity
Relationships and Communication
Your character is innately developed through various environments, experiences, and relationships. From birth to the end of life, self-identity builds and evolves. We question our self when challenged. We change through beliefs, faith, values, opportunities, and especially tragedies.
Whenever we lose something we value, we feel a degree of impact. Losing a loved one is a different loss to losing a job. Relocating to another state or country may create separation of family and friends. Grief is often our companion to change. Losses are not comparable. Length or speed of recovery is one way to measure the impact of any loss.
Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.
~ Lao Tzu
Relationships are key components of our identity. The bond of kinship is our first encounter to the world. Emotions drive the need for interaction. Secondly, we are impacted by the relationship between others. Family Dynamics do effect other communications.
The Family unit is the first group shaping our inner-self. Our learned behaviour is the mirror we project to other groups we join. I had a fearful childhood with my step-father. His unpredictable temper threatened my sense of security.
We take the lens of our childhood into our future. We have our own unique personality. We perceive people and situations individually. This is another lens; more subtle and difficult to identify how it affects the perception of our reality.
As we develop more relationships outside our family and experience the events from a societal aspect, we change our internal thought process. Our value system is strengthened, threatened and irrevocably changed with other relationships. Our values develop accordingly with knowledge and life experiences.
Some friends are limited to school, work, and social functions. We may not invite these people into our personal life or share a connection beyond a certain commonality.
Shared commonalities influences our conduct and continued interaction with people. A work friend may share a social connection but nothing more. In other cases, we become personal friends with work associates forming lifelong relationships.
I believe that with child loss, part of our despair includes the measurement of our personal identity in the relationship with our child or children (for those that have lost more than one child). I speak as a mother and the bond that began from the moment I knew I was growing a baby in my womb. We shared a heartbeat from that moment onward.
Fathers, grandparents, and siblings also have their unique grief and part of that stems from the identity between them and the child that went ahead.
Inevitably, we lose people we love. Child loss is never planned nor is there anyway to prepare oneself for such a tragedy.
A Personal Perspective
I lost my son within 27 days short of his 23rd birthday. My life came to a screeching halt when my son left this earth. My world became suspended in a hellish nightmare forever changing my family, and myself.
I am now regaining a part of my former self, yet I am not that person anymore. My self-identity changed when I lost my son. I lost myself. I could no longer be his mother walking upon this earth. I lost a precious position as a mother.
Whether we consciously see ourselves through other people’s eyes, we certainly have a subconscious connection to that perspective. Now that I can no longer be my youngest son’s mother to people that did not meet him, they don’t know that part of me. They will never know that part of my personality.
I not only grieved the loss of my son, I grieved the recognition as his mother. I am still his mother, but I don’t get to enjoy the benefits of motherhood to my youngest son. I mourned the lost opportunity to be a grandmother for the family he would never have.
Our self-identity and child loss overlap and confuse our grief experience. These are connected and subversive ideologies that we make with the expectations of life. This is normal based on our understanding and experiences up to any point in life.
Our self-identity may change to the outside world but we remain forever a mother to our heavenly children. Our need to be their mother will never change. Our love is unconditional and eternal. We struggle to process the loss of our child or children. This makes our grief more complicated because of the lost relationship and special bond we shared upon this earth.
Comprehending child loss is overwhelming and not possible if not directly affected. Losing our children, losing ourselves, and moving forward are three overwhelming challenges that may take the rest of our lives to process.
The loss of a loved one even though it may not be your child may affect you struggling with your self-identity based on the significance of that relationship.When we lose someone we love, we mourn the loss of the person as well as the relationship.
Memories are the blessings that come from any loving relationship. Whether you grieve the loss of a child, spouse, parent, sibling, or friend, memories give you a permanent record within your heart of the relationship you shared. We all need to find a way to stay connected to our loved ones no longer with us. As we search within our heart and soul to find the courage and strength to move forward after a profound loss, we can rely on our memories to get us through, even if it’s one minute or one day at a time.