One of my biggest struggles after losing Will and again after losing Tiger: My 5 year old daughter. It is not new but it has that raw experienced-based-fear attached to it when it comes. I couldn’t fly after Will died for months. A panic took me over once I did fly- just wrapped its icy fingers around me and held tight. And still every time I’m going to drive to work I say goodbye to my husband and Lucy with a knowledge that it could be the last. My daughter always had lots of play dates with close friends but after our losses I couldn’t imagine anyone else being able to keep her safe- it just felt inevitable that something would happen. It relaxed a bit eventually after Will and isn’t as profound after Tiger but the fear of one of us dying is woven into life now. Last summer my ‘imaginings’ were super dark. These are the two things that helped me move to a place where I can manage it:
1. A therapist said to me- Nothing is going to happen to Lucy. That’s it. She just said it and I knew she couldn’t know that. And then I realized that my focusing on losing her wasn’t going to change anything. She probably will be ok and I will see her grow, and watch her become a woman. And if I don’t? If I lose her- I won’t live through that. Just true. And somehow that gave me the strength to move from the fear more often- because it was stealing my time with her.
2. When I would start to go to those dark places I became aware. Just aware that I was going there. Then I practiced thinking about something, anything else- in detail. I would talk out loud to help move away from what I was imagining. I would sing. It is exhausting- a lot of work- but really worth it. I don’t go there as often anymore and when I do- I usually move away much faster. I just didn’t want to create anymore grief than I am already holding- it’s really more than enough- and I don’t want to lose my sanity.
For me- a few months of therapy really helped. I had to say those things- hear myself say them- or I couldn’t let them go. I’m still protective and over aware of the potential but I’m trying to USE it – Carlos Castanada once said that we should live our lives like death is walking behind us and at any moment could tap us on the shoulder. I’m trying to transform this fear into a different way of living…. to live differently because of this knowledge. Trying- we’ll see.
I’m not a huge Castanada fan actually but I also started to look at the grieving and once I was able to have some perspective I started asking myself his simple question: “Look at every path closely and deliberately, then ask yourself this crucial question: Does this path have a heart? If it does, then the path is good. If it doesn’t, it is of no use.”