As someone who hates change, adjusting to a new routine after my dad’s death was difficult.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always hated change. Whenever I have a choice, my answer is almost always the same: I choose my comfort zone. Restaurant? “I’ll have a caesar salad with ranch dressing.” Clothes? “I’ll go to the store by my house.” TV? “I’ll rewatch a good show.” The list goes on and on. Why? Because sticking with what’s easy, reliable, and familiar allows me to always know what’s coming. So, as you can probably imagine, changing my routine after my dad died was difficult for me.
My routine was always the same. I would spend one night at my dad’s house weekly, and every other week I would also spend the weekend. This schedule was simple, easy, and a habit, but I lost it all when my dad died. Gone was the knowledge of what was going to happen in the future, one of my parents, and so much more.
It was really, really, really rough at first. I need to pack my bag because I’m going to dad’s this - oh. Being so used to a set itinerary meant that I kept on forgetting that no, I would not be going to Dad’s this weekend. And, every time I remembered that I would not be seeing my dad, the realization that he was gone would hit me again. No, that’s my old routine, I would tell myself. Not anymore.
This confusion was frequent for me the first few months of my grief. But, as time went on, I slowly began to adjust to my new “normal.” Every week that went by was another forgetful moment that went away. I would remember that my dad wasn’t coming this weekend, that I wasn’t seeing him for the next holiday, and, slowly, I stopped forgetting. And as I stopped forgetting, I began adapting to my new routine.
Now, I spend 7 days a week at my mom’s house, and I’ve gotten used to that. Of course, there are still times when I forget that he’s gone and get confused. But, what I’ve found is that adjusting to new routines after death just takes time, and that’s okay.
Written by Natalie Adams, the creator of Teenage Grief Sucks. Photo by Estée Janssens.