Things To Do With A 9 Month Old Baby Boy How Baby Boomers Can Find Themselves Again After Life-Altering Events

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How Baby Boomers Can Find Themselves Again After Life-Altering Events

Do you feel like you need to rediscover yourself? Baby boomers can go through many major life changes that throw off your sense of self. Retirement, caregiving, empty nest syndrome, divorce or the loss of a loved one can change your life forever.

After my mother’s death, I received a letter from the hospice bereavement coordinator who helped my family care for my mother in her last days. They acknowledged that family members who have spent most of their time caring for their loved ones for months or perhaps years often ask themselves after their death, “Where am I going?” or “What am I doing?”

That’s exactly how I felt after my Mom died. I was the primary caregiver for my Mom, who had Lewy body dementia, a combination of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, which crippled her both physically and mentally. Being a carer was the hardest job I’ve ever had – by far. When she passed away, I figured that while I would grieve for my Mom, I would also feel relief that my job was over and my life could go back to normal.

Instead, I felt lethargic, depressed, and yes, lost after she died. My life, my thoughts and my feelings revolved around taking care of my mother. I discovered that when your roles change drastically, you lose a sense of who you are. Your self-image is shattered.

This uncomfortable feeling can happen any time you go through a major change in your life. Maybe you recently retired or became an empty nester. After dreaming about all the things you would do when you had more time after raising children and working a 9 to 5 job, you feel lost.

Remember, even though you may no longer be a caregiver, part of a couple, an employee or a full-time parent, you are still 100 percent you. You just need to find that person again.

How?

allow yourself to grieve

If you have suffered a loss, be kind and patient with yourself. Acknowledge your feelings instead of sweeping them under the rug. Everyone is different. Emotions can range from anger, loss, guilt, sadness, lethargy, regret, confusion and depression.

Whether you’ve lost a loved one, a spouse in a divorce or a job, you may have also lost your lifestyle and identity. It’s okay to cry that loss.

However, be careful not to isolate yourself during this process. You will need a network of support. Healing can mean a lot of heartfelt prayer, talking your feelings out with a supportive loved one, and/or focusing your energy on a healthy activity you enjoy.

LET IT GO

Avoid getting stuck in all the “I should have…” or “I wish…” feelings that often come with grief but can hinder your recovery. Do not allow sadness, stress, resentment or bitterness to become a way of life. Get all negative self-talk out of your head like “I’ve lost everything” or “My life is over.” The fact of the matter is that your life is not over; it’s just a new beginning for you.

The goal is not to wallow forever in negative feelings, but to move on, to be there for the people who need you, to have a meaningful and productive life, and to enjoy living again. Be grateful for what is working in your life right now. Live in the present and focus on the positive. Learn from your experiences and prepare yourself for the next exciting chapter of your life.

REDEEM YOURSELF

It’s easy to get lost in caring for your family and children or elderly parents or tending to a career. You may have given up many things you enjoyed. Make time to recognize yourself again.

“To move forward with your life, it has to start focusing on yourself,” wrote Mark Branschick, MD in an article, Seven Ways to Thrive After Divorce, for Psychology Today. “Use this precious opportunity to rediscover who you are. Think of this time in your life as an adventure to explore the real you.”

You can lose sight of your unique gifts if you focus on what you don’t like about yourself or your life. Think about your qualities and skills and how you can best use them. What really makes you happy? What is really important to you? What do you think is your true purpose in life? What hobbies and activities did you enjoy before becoming a caregiver, couple or parent? What is it that will get you excited to get out of bed every day? Make a list of what you can do to achieve your goals.

Rediscover what brought you fulfillment, satisfaction, fun and joy as a way to rebuild yourself and your life.

REINVENT YOURSELF

My life has changed suddenly and that can be disconcerting. In my case, we just moved into a new home that we built to be closer to my Mom (who sadly passed away the week before it was finished). My husband and I went from empty nesters to a house full of grown children and grandchildren. In addition, I had to find new clients as a freelance writer and start working again. It was a tumultuous year in other ways as well. My mother-in-law lost her battle with ovarian cancer and my son started going through a nasty divorce and custody battle.

Let’s face it, between all these events and changes in my life, I was shaken. I felt fragile and battled depression for the first time in my life.

It’s been a journey, but I’m starting to heal and recover. In the process, I learn to accept all the new changes in my life. My new job writing magazine articles requires meeting strict deadlines, but the topics are fun and it’s exciting work. We are a multi-generational family living together, but I have enjoyed having the cocoon of family love around me during this difficult time. My oldest son is going through many of the same emotions as me as he finds his way through a divorce and we have connected on a whole new level. When our three grandchildren are with us, they bring us joy and keep us young.

So, don’t be afraid of change. Get out of your comfort zone and discover a new side of yourself. Maybe that means a new career, trying a new sport, traveling to a new place, changing your hair or taking classes. Shake things up a bit.

EMBRACE YOUR NEW ROLE

You will go through several stages before this step can happen. However, the time comes when you make a choice. You can move on and discover possibilities that a life change presents to you or get stuck in negative emotions.

Find a way to put one foot in front of the other. If you can keep moving forward, eventually you will see the light at the end of the tunnel. I know this from experience.

Over time, you’ll reconnect with old friends or make new ones, go to work, go back to school or volunteer, rediscover what once made you happy, enjoy new adventures, and find your way. You will look at the changes in your life in a positive way, feel more confident and in control, and become more productive and optimistic about your future.

The time will come when you will find yourself again, accept your new role in life and feel that your new shoes fit. You will heave a sigh of relief. Life will never be perfect but eventually you won’t have to struggle so much to “make your life work” again. It just will.

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