'Who turned out the light, oh, somebody quick turn it back on, I don't like being in the dark.' 'Kill it, kill it quick there's a bug over there, hurry up!' There are so many things people are afraid of, some are afraid of snakes, others bugs, still others the dark. There is a fear of flying, public speaking, dogs, cats, you name it there is a fear.
When we are grieving we too experience fear. At 15 when I lost my grandmother, I was so afraid that I would lose everyone I loved. What if they died too? It is not unnatural to have fears, it is an apprehension that sometimes can keep us safe, make us a little more cautious. Phobias on the other hand are an entirely different story, and that is fodder for another blog.
When someone we love dies, we fear that all our dreams have died with them. We are afraid that we may never experience love like that again, how could I ever love again. Where will I find another friend like him or her, they understood me so completely. Am I really all alone now that both my parents have died? What will tomorrow bring, how can I face another day. How will I make ends meet?
So many worries, fears and concerns coming flooding at us making us feel so insecure, so vulnerable, we just want to run and hide. Maybe if I just retreat to my room and shut out the world, I won't have to think about it. These fears can cause us to stop, not allowing us to function, we feel totally incapacitated. Until finally one day we stop and face these fears, realizing that life does go on, and yes sad events will continue to happen in our lives, but we somehow find the strength to not only face our fears but move onward.
It is amazing how fear can show up even months or years after the death of our loved one. Within a year of Rachel's death my daughter got into a car accident, luckily no one was hurt, but what had happened to her sister came flooding at her in those first few moments of the accident. She remembers feeling panic and a sense of fear and the sudden realization that it was because of an accident that her sister had died. I felt for my daughter but did not fully understand her fear. Just two years ago I was involved in a car accident, the car came at me while I was turning into a driveway. The vehicle hit the driver side door, pinning me inside. I heard the sounds and all I could think of was what my daughter may have gone through. I panicked and became hysterical, two things I seldom ever do. Now I look back and feel for the poor police and EMT's because all I kept saying over and over again was 'my daughter died this way.' It was a sudden realization and an overwhelming fear, which led to nightmares for weeks after.
Our fears present themselves in our responses to things, if you were involved in an accident that took the life of someone you loved, you may have a hard time getting behind the wheel of a car. If it happened on a certain street, you may avoid that street completely, even if it means going miles out of your way. My daughter's accident took place on a major highway, and I still feel a sense of apprehension when I drive by that particular stretch of highway. We tend to avoid whatever causes the fear, until we either face it or allow it to take control of us.
When Rachel died, of course like so many people, my nights were haunted with what ifs and how comes, sleep was a hard commodity to come by. When I did get some sleep my dreams would sometimes turn into nightmares. It was these dreams that began to help me to understand what my fears were. I had dreams of losing my keys; not being able to find my way back home. I even had dreams of death and dying, not my own death, but of others, mainly strangers I had never met, but death just the same. I would sometimes dream that I was all alone, not a soul could be found anywhere.
These dreams let me know that I was afraid of losing everyone that was important in my life. It was the reoccurring theme of losing, getting lost, being alone that gave me a glimpse as to what was scaring me. If you have dreams begin to notice if there is a common thread in them, it can be your subconscious mind telling you what is happening with you. I was fortunate to have a counselor and when I would have my dreams I was able to talk about them, helping me decipher them. Write them down, talk about them with a trusted friend or family member, sometimes just voicing these dreams and nightmares, makes them less frightening.
When all these fears come at us, it is important to remember that there are still people in your life that love you, care for you and are ready to help in anyway they can. Reach out to them. It may be hard at first to fully open ourselves up to others be it family, friends, support groups or counseling, but we need to let ourselves trust.
In the book 'in times of grieving' by Robert M. Hamma there is a beautiful prayer that addresses fear.
I Am Afraid
Lord, I am afraid.
I feel lost, abandoned, alone.
I want to shut out the world,
to hide away in some safe place.
But there is nowhere to go
that this fear does not follow.
When I try to summon up my courage,
there is nothing there.
Only this impulse to hide.
'Perfect love casts out fear,' you said.
Only your love is perfect, Lord,
mine is weak and fragile.
Open my heart to receive your love.
Touch me gently, carefully, with your comfort.
Help me to allow others to console me,
by their words, their presence, their touch.
Let your perfect love cast this fear out of
Allow love to help banish the fear, the love of those around you, the love you shared with your loved one, the love that can sustain and strengthen you. Fear is natural, but like any obstacle it to can be overcome. Allow love to light those dark corners of fear and learn to live again, let yourself begin to heal. Know that you are loved, cherished and important to others.
Blessings! and until we meet again.