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40 days after – Journeying into our new normal

By Camille Ramdial-Cumberbatch

On April 27, 2024, we celebrated Michael’s 78th birthday and his 40-day Service. Two milestones merged forever in our memories. Joyful moments and lovely tributes were shared by Mike’s friends and family, including myself, on that day. Laughter and thanksgiving epitomised the experience, reinforcing his impact on our lives. This was further memorialised by the “cloud of the Lord’s blessings” which was how Mike always referred to a light rain falling at a momentous occasion.

Another anniversary was two days later, on April 29, 2024, which made it two months since his hospitalisation. It was a very emotional experience upon realising late in the evening at home, the date was the 29th. This pain of his loss of not being home with me anymore resurfaced. I cried again, needing to see his face and smile, so I looked at the slide show of the pictures we did for his funeral.

This is the rollercoaster of my new normal–up and down feelings daily, sometimes minutes away from each other. Being ‘normal’” one minute and then without a known reason, feeling sad, heavy-hearted, or bursting into tears the next. How does one acclimatise to this without going insane or becoming depressed? Some pearls of wisdom which have helped me thus far are:

Accept it, as it’s normal for you to feel this way. Don’t deny how you feel or let anyone pressure you into thinking you shouldn’t feel this way, or that you need to get over it quickly. Cry when you want and for as long as you want. This good piece of advice was shared by others to help me be patient with myself.

Pray–the most powerful tool of surrendering your grief to the Lord is prayer. Pray for strength, courage, wisdom, understanding, peace and for the guidance and protection of the Holy Spirit in your life and your children’s lives. Pray for the resurgence of joy in your heart and laughter in your future days. Be hopeful even in grief.

Surround yourself with positive supportive people, whether in-person or digitally. Others sharing their grief experience also helps me understand I am not alone, and that I can learn from them how to manage my grief.

Be kind to yourself and accept help–The saying ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’ is real. Pressuring yourself to maintain certain standards at home and work may not be realistic.

I had brain fog in the weeks right after Mike’s passing. I wasn’t as sharp mentally and I was physically tired of having to manage details and issues with hospital records, funeral home arrangements, the logistics for wake nights and funeral, etc. Crying can be physically and emotionally draining too, while still cathartic. Take time to heal and regain some semblance of yourself. Allow others to assist you, even if they don’t do it the way you want it done.

Reconnect with your purpose and act on it–Doing something meaningful has prevented me from losing myself in grief. Purposeful work helps my brain reengage and lifts my spirit, as I feel I am making a difference. Facilitating life-changing seminars or currently planning The Catholic News’ Steps for Hope 5K/1K makes me feel productive.

At the 40-days Mass and Service, we prayed for God’s mercy on Michael’s soul as he transitioned, and we, too, now have to transition and learn to live without him. While accepting the roller-coaster reality of our new normal, Mike’s dying has also caused his loved ones to dig deeper inwardly, leading to some revelations.

One main revelation has been the emergence of our 23-year-old son Joshua, as he asserted his leadership role during this emotionally challenging experience. He is like a pillar of strength to me. He stands by my side, holds me when I cry, comforts me, and has stepped up to do what is necessary, even as he too grieves for his father who has always been proud of him.

As we journey into our new phase in life, Joshua is already manifesting what is asked of his namesake in Joshua 1:6 which declares, “Be strong and courageous…” We hold these words close to our hearts, as we navigate this new normal, praying for strength and courage from God daily, along the way.

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