When someone we love dies, it feels as though our soul is ripped open, and a million shattered pieces spill onto the floor. With their death comes the death of countless other things—our plans, dreams, hopes, vision, future, and the life we once knew—all shattered. The pain and desperation we experience as we grieve are undoubtedly among the hardest trials we face in life. 

We yearn for their presence and desperately wish for things to return to what we once deemed as ‘normal.’ But the truth is, grief changes us in ways we never anticipated. It alters our perspective, challenges our beliefs, and fundamentally reshapes our identity, often leaving us feeling like strangers to ourselves.

I know firsthand how disorienting this can be. I remember looking in the mirror and feeling like I was staring at a stranger. For 23 years, I saw myself as part of a team with my husband, a dynamic duo. But when I lost him,  I lost countless pieces of myself too. I felt unsure of who I was or where I belonged. These thoughts brought with them a lot of fear.

And as time passes, I gradually search for and collect those tiny pieces of myself. Some I find, and with amazement, I realize they still fit! I gently put them back into place, and this brings me comfort and familiarity. Yet, there are pieces that I must acknowledge no longer fit; and as much as it hurts, I must let them go. Surprisingly, along the way, I also stumble upon new pieces, beautiful additions that enrich my evolving identity.

Here’s the thing I’ve come to realize: our identity isn’t fixed—it’s fluid, constantly evolving. Instead of viewing our identity as something static and unchanging, we can choose to see it as a living, breathing entity—one that grows and evolves with each passing moment. Embracing the idea that I am a work in progress has allowed me to release the pressure of trying to “get back to normal” and instead lean into the process of becoming.

I don’t have all the answers, and I’m still trying to reclaim all my shattered pieces and rediscover myself. But I do know that finding our way back to ourselves begins with acceptance—the acknowledgment that we are not the same people we once were, and that’s okay. And remember, healing is a journey, not a destination. It’s okay to not have everything figured out—to feel lost, confused, and uncertain.

Is it possible to make peace with your life after significant loss? Yes, it is possible, but it will look different than the life you had before the loss. One of the most profound ways to reclaim our sense of self is by engaging in activities that ignite our passion, purpose, and bring us joy. Whether it’s rediscovering old hobbies or exploring new interests. 

So if you’re struggling to find yourself again after loss, know that you’re not alone. Be gentle with yourself, and allow yourself the space to grieve in your own way and in your own time. And remember, your identity isn’t lost—it’s simply waiting to be rediscovered, one shattered piece at a time.