Living Life in the "New Normal"

Author:
Sharon May, Ph.D. and Alan Hart


Stay at home. Have a good reason to leave home if you do. Stay at least 6 feet away from others whenever possible. Don't gather in groups of more than ten.

This is a very unique time for us all. Especially for those of us trying to "be there" for meaningful life events. How are we to celebrate weddings, baby showers, births, birthdays, graduations… or love on aging parents in a nursing home or respectfully grieve at a funeral?

The new social distancing realities are requiring us to be creative in the ways we participate in life events, and we can all empathize with those who have lost out on a celebration that was important to them. The new normal is sharing encouraging and funny stories about how we've managed to cope with it all.

Here are a few questions to help you process your feelings around the loss of important life celebrations you may currently be experiencing:

1. What life transition or celebration has come or will come during this unique period of social isolation?

2. What have you lost out on or had to change when planning for an event or celebration during the stay-at-home order?


a) Name the feelings you have regarding the loss of being able to celebrate in a way you had hoped or expected (i.e., sad, disappointed, mad, fearful, deeply hurt).

b) Name the "dragon" or meaning you ascribe to the loss. We often view disappointing events as things happening against us: "I always lose out, nothing ever works out for me, I didn't deserve it, why me?; God, if you knew how important this was to me, why did you let it happen?"

I encourage you to not believe dragon downers. These thoughts will rob you of opportunities to be creative and find new ways to celebrate your meaningful events.

3. What are some creative ways you can come up with to make the best of your celebration or life event?

Remember, you are not stuck without any way to positively impact your situation. You can reach out for support, be creative and try to find a blessing in the midst of your disappointment or tragic loss.

4. Ask yourself—could God have a blessing for me in the midst of my loss?

I wondered, what good could possibly come from my long-awaited 60th birthday party being cancelled?

My Story
It was my birthday on April 14th. I turned 60 years old. It was a different kind of birthday. I turned 60 in the midst of this unique and strange time period. No vacation with the family, no romantic getaway with hubby, no fun weekend with friends.

Instead, my hubby and I drove past our sons' houses (we have four sons) with an appropriately socially-distant "Happy Birthday" wave. I had anticipated my disappointment over not being able to run and with open arms pick up my grandchildren and hug each family member as they sang, "Happy Birthday, Mom!" But instead, the minute I saw each of their loving faces (despite it being from a distance), my heart was filled with joy. Something deep within me bubbled up. It was a mix of realizing what life is really about, what is most precious, and a feeling of contentment and gratefulness. My heart grew bigger.

I believe this unique time has changed me for the better. It has confirmed what I have already been discovering: that rushing doesn't get me anywhere anyway; that more doesn't make me happier; that simple, kind and brave is actually the goal; that God has faithfully gotten me through difficult times, and what He actually values the most is the way I love.

On my birthday the sun was warm, the grass green and the sky filled with big puffy, white clouds. The simple joy of just seeing my family made my 60th birthday celebration a memorable one. 2020 arrived. And all was well with my soul.

Here for You
Perhaps you have delayed your wedding or gotten married with only a handful of people in attendance. Or you couldn't (or can't) have your mother in the delivery room to share the joy of your child's birth. Maybe the new house you moved into has not yet been visited by friends or family. These life events that come and go without others to share in them, or that unfold in ways we never expected, bring loss and sadness. Yet, if we look closer, each event still has waiting within it the possibility of a blessing. May you find yours.

Alan and I may not know you by name, but be assured that we are praying for you. May each day bring a sweet blessing that will let you know that God cares, that life is precious and that you are valued. We will get through this together!

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