You Lost Your Expectations: Now What?
At nap time yesterday, Caleb’s precious Bear could not be found. If you know Caleb, you know that Bear is considered part of the family. They’ve been best buddies since Caleb was 18 days old. Over the course of the afternoon and evening, we tore the house apart, looking for the brown, fuzzy, friend and came back with nothing. Caleb went to bed with a variety of stuffed animals to choose from, but none of them was an appropriate substitute.
He may only be three years old, but this boy’s courage puts mine to shame. He had an easier time going to bed without Bear than I did putting him to bed without Bear. After I closed his door, I almost cried. Bear is part of the family. All of my memories of Caleb’s life include Bear. Bear couldn’t be gone. Children aren’t supposed to have to go to bed without their lovies.
I suddenly realized I was experiencing a micro version of the grief experience. The expectation that Bear would journey through childhood with Caleb was now lost. A physical symbol of his first three years was now gone. I was not handling it well. “It’s only a thing,” I kept reminding myself. And yet, I was so sad and so worried.
Isn’t that how we react when our expectations are lost? That job that meant financial security. The house that was supposed to be home. The relationship that represented community. When we lose something we expected to be there, it breaks us. I even feel my heart break when I’m late or miss something I expected to be there (and early) for.
So then what?
What do I do when my expectations are lost? When you see your expected life disappear, what’s next?
I was talking with someone about grief the other day and she said it feels like you see yourself shattered into a million pieces and wonder how you’ll put yourself back together.
What if we don’t get put back together?
I’ve come to find out that when expectations are lost and hearts are broken, we aren’t put back together to look the same as we did before. That loss, that grief, is now part of our story. But we do get put together.
As I’m being put back together after losing Keith, I’m looking for the new parts of myself. As a result of our move back to Connecticut, I’ve made new friends. I’ve taken my writing life more seriously. I took a ballroom dance lesson yesterday! I don’t look or feel like I did before I lost Keith, but that doesn’t mean I’m living less than I was before. Letting go of expectations is the brave way to walk into new life.
What are you wrestling with? What lost expectations are you reluctant to let go of? How has loss (of any kind) changed you; what does your new life look like?
Because I know you’re wondering, we did find Bear. I was folding laundry after the kids were asleep and suddenly realized I had changed Caleb’s sheets yesterday morning. Sure enough, Bear was tangled up in the sheets in the dirty clothes bin. Caleb and I hugged and kissed bear and welcomed him home again. It was a wonderful reunion!
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