Fear: Grief’s Constant Companion
The life of widowhood and journey of grief seem to be inseparably paired with fear. Fear is grief’s constant companion. Fear of an unknown future. Fear that I have lost my identity. Fear of facing the darkest trials, illnesses and sorrows in life alone. Fear of being lonely and unhappy for the rest of my life. Fear that says, “What on earth is going to become of me?” “How are my children going to turn out without their Daddy?” “Who is going to love me?” “How am I going to pay my bills?” “What do I do about this big decision?” “What is my life going to be like in 5 years or 10 years?” “What if more of my closest loved ones die?”
When I was happily married, I looked ahead to the future with a joyful anticipation. The years ahead had the promise of my best friend by my side through through good times and bad. Adventures together were planned, and parenting as a team with a common vision for our sons was expected. The happiness I was experiencing each day was an emotion I thought I would continue to be blessed with into the future years of our love and life together.
In just a few days, I will survive one of the hardest days during a calendar year, our anniversary. This year we would have been celebrating 10 years of marriage. It was a milestone I truly thought for sure we would be blessed to share together. Being the tender romantic fellow he was was, my sweet husband made it his mission on anniversaries to surprise me in big ways. This was no easy feat, as I am extremely difficult to surprise. Past anniversaries at our traditional restaurant included him setting up big moments with waitresses bringing lovely flowers and balloons to our table and the whole restaurant wishing us well. We were the kind of couple that delighted to be together and cherished one another so deeply. We liked to lavish one another in thoughtful gestures of kindness.
We enjoyed the symbolism and reminiscing an anniversary represented and we took it as an opportunity to prayerfully set goals and commitments that would prepare and strengthen our marriage for another year ahead. I feel truly blessed to have experienced something truly rare and wonderful in the kind of love we shared, which seems to amplify that grief of losing him by a million. I fear that I will never have anyone in my life again who loves me even half as much as my sweetie did. The bar is set incredibly high. “What if no one ever measures up and I spend most of my life alone?” “What if I can never have another good relationship because I can’t stop comparing other guys to my husband in heaven?” “What if no one special is brought into my life until my children are nearly adults, and they don’t ever have a special father figure when they need it most?”
So how do I cope?
The list of fears go on and on. I try to remind myself that I can choose what I think. I was once taught that fear and faith are opposite sides of the same coin. If I am dwelling on fear, I won’t be trusting God for or believing Him for good in any future part of my life. If I stop myself from fearful thoughts and choose to deliberately replace that thought with a statement of faith, then my fear will be forced to subside. It has been said that the mind is a battle field, and in grief, it feels like an all out combat scene from an action packed war movie. The amount of constant conflicting emotions, pain, memories, and fears that assault the grieving mind are exhausting to cope with. Fighting the good fight of faith in the face of fear takes tremendous discipline, determination, and perseverance. Most days I am not up for that challenge. Some days I settle into a puddle of sorrows, wave my little white flag of surrender and choose not to fight against my fears at all. Other days I remind myself to focus just on the step in front of me, not on trying to figure out the whole staircase. Just do the next thing, take it one minute at a time, one step at a time.
I try to remind myself that through Christ, God has given me everything I need to be able to handle the ups and downs of this day. If I spend all of today fearing the troubles of tomorrow, that’s a problem. I don’t have everything I need to handle tomorrow, or 1, 5 or 10 years from now, today. I have one day to focus on and the strength for just that day, …today.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34, NIV.
~In Hope & Prayers~ from This Widow Mama~