Grief in General

You’ve Changed

You’ve Changed.

Have you heard this since your loss?

Maybe you have.

Maybe you haven’t.

But my guess is that you’ve felt it.

You’ve felt it about yourself.

You’ve felt the eyes of others judging you with those thoughts:  You’ve Changed

Here is my question:  How could you not?  How could you not change?  Were you supposed to remain the same?  Was a deep, profound and tragic loss not supposed to change you?

A couple of weeks ago I saw a meme about grief on Facebook that spoke to me; a line in it stated the following words: An Alteration of Your Being

Think about those words.

An Alteration of Your Being.

That is raw.  And that is true.

You haven’t just changed.

No, it’s more than that.

Your very being has been altered.

Maybe it was cancer that took your loved one, or suicide.  Heart disease, or a car accident.

We all have different stories.  Some of us got to say Good-Bye. Some did not.  Some of our loved ones suffered before their passing. Some did not.

Regardless of how your loss took place, regardless of the exact details of your story, one thing is almost certainly true:  You’ve Changed

I know I sure have.

I went from cloud nine, to utter despair. 

I went from a man reunited with his High School sweetheart, the only woman he’s ever loved, to a man desperate to try and save that same woman from the cancer that took over her body.

I went from truly happy, for the first time in my life, to off the charts bitter; terrified that my everything was about to be taken away.

My wife. My step daughter. My everything.

There were so many horrific moments during those 2 ½ years in which she fought bravely against the disease that eventually took her life.

It go to the point where there were moments, near the end, in which I begged God, with tears from the gut and desperation from the soul, to just take her already. To take her to put her out of her misery.  To take her to put me out of mine.

I had changed.


And then, I changed again.

Shortly before Michelle passed away, while in hospice, I had an awakening of sorts.

I realized how blessed I was to have had Michelle in my life for as long as I did.  I realized how blessed I was to have my amazing step daughter in my life.  I realized how blessed they both were to have me in their lives as well.

My bitterness began to fade.

I began to change for the better.

As I stand here today, nearing the one year anniversary of the day my wife passed away in an unexpectedly beautiful, yet obviously tragic moment, I can say that I have changed.

I have changed in dramatic ways.  And I continue to change.

There are days when I am a better person.  There are days when I am a worse person.

But one thing is for certain, I am surely not the same person.

My outlook on life. My goals. My desires. My heart. My soul.

None of it is quite the same.

I have changed.  To my very core. 

I have changed.

Often for the better.  Occasionally for the worse.

I have changed.

And I’m betting you have too.

After a deep and profound loss, I am now convinced that it is impossible to remain the same person that you once were.

So the next time someone says, ‘You’ve Changed’, whether it be as a compliment, a criticism or a general observation, tell them that you know that.

Tell them that you haven’t just changed though.

Tell them what you have truly experienced:  An Alteration of Your Being

Tell them, that for better or for worse, you’ll never be the same.

 © Copyright 2017 John Polo


5 thoughts on “You’ve Changed

  1. This is so true, I have heard several times I’ve changed since my husband passed. I know I have, when you lose the love of your life, your soul mate of course you change. I was physical and verbally abused for several years, then I met scott, he became my best friend, my heart, my soul. He was such an amazing man, volunteer fire fighter, volunteer rescue, anything and everything he could do to help people. We found out in February 2015, that he was stage 4 non Hoskins lymphoma, and he lost his battle in may 2015. My world shattered, it wil never be the same, nor will I. Thank you so much for your post, it makes me feel like other people understand.

  2. Thank you for putting such beautiful words to the reality of death and grieving.My husband completed his life journey 33 months ago after the good news, bad news and the after news, what and who you thought would help you cope turned out to be mostly absent and others kept telling me how strong I was and I would be fine.
    Yes I am strong but I am also grieving, lost and lonely and the one who was always there for me is gone. In the last months I also was misdiagnosed, had unnecessary surgery and had to find help near my daughter where I found I was high risqué and needed immediate surgery to remove 2 Tumors on my spine, stayed there for 7 months and returned home to everyone I thought would be there to resume a friendship had moved on with life. I also know that I was blessed with a wonderful soulmate, a man who loved me, he and I completed each other, for this I am grateful.My thoughts and prayers to you and Emma as you make this journey.

  3. 8 months ago, I took my strong, handsome, stubborn (& wonderful) husband to the clinic one morning. We both thought he had the flu. 7 days later he died from sepsis as a result of double pneumonia. He was 53. Your point about being happier than you had ever been in your life turning to the worst bitterness one could ever feel, struck home. It dismays and destroys me that I cannot turn this bitterness, this overwhelming grief around. It is consuming me. My friends have moved on with their lives. I have changed without a doubt. How could one not? One year, I went to visit my mother. She wanted me to make a cheesecake. Unfamiliar with her kitchen, I assembled all of the ingredients & popped it into the oven. One taste and we both recoiled. The canister marked sugar actually contained salt. When you substitute 3 cups of sugar for 3 cups of salt, it changes the expected outcome into something one can no longer recognize. Kind of like me.

  4. I have changed. I am sure of that. I don’t know what I have changed into. I am afraid of that. I feel I have changed for the worse and I can’t get out. 2 years 4 months and 7 days since my husband left while Led Zeplins The Rain Song played. I am in one of the waves, one of the waves that hits so bad and takes you back to that worst moment. I am trying to see all the good, we have 2 handsome sons in college now. I am financially great. But the good does not draw me out from under the wave right away. A person I met on a Cancer site led me to this site just today. She and I lost our husbands two days apart. She has been there when I needed her and this is one more thing that will help. I have lived since my husband passed. I will continue to live. But I am changed. Just don’t know who I am yet. Thank you for writing everyone. John Polo and everyone else your words are agonizing yet helpful and hopeful. I will read with an open heart and hope to grow and survive this wave and all future waves. As my husband would have said. Good Vibes Denise, Good vibes only.

  5. Of course I have changed….how could you go through losing someone you loved to the ends of the earth and back without changing..the people I thought were Family and Friends changed more! They are the ones that have lost out…they are afraid to speak of our love, the memories are brushed under the mat, the joy tossed aside in fear of hurting someones feelings that are numb. I feel sorry for those people more then anything. I will always love Doug, and he will always be in my heart…someday we will dance again. I had LOVE. What do they have?

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