Fear of Loss

Fear of loss

Honestly, I have a lot of fears…

  • Fear of flying and dying in a fiery crash
  • Swimming in the ocean and being eaten by a shark
  • Riding on one of those things in the Everglades, tipping over and being swallowed by an alligator
  • Snakes
  • Bridges
  • Spiders
  • Sewer grates on sidewalks
  • Heights and falling
  • Zombie apocalypse anyone?

I’m not super adventurous. I’m cautious. I’m a worrier. And then my greatest fear became my reality.

When people ask what is your worst fear, I have always said the loss of a child. It was always the one thing I thought I could never endure. Well, here I am, 19 months later, and a child loss survivor. Some days it still feels impossible that this thing I fear most in life actually happened. And even though I survived, loss of yet another child or my spouse is something I am positive I cannot endure again. It will quite literally break my heart completely.

If I could wrap them up in bubble wrap, never let them out of my sight, keep hold as tight as I can, then nothing can happen to them. I can keep them forever. But life doesn’t work that way. Life isn’t meant to be lived in fear, it’s meant to be joyous and fun, filled with adventures and travels. Yet, this fear of loss at times steals my breath and fills me with anxiety. This fear keeps me attached to what is comfortable, not necessarily what I need to keep me moving forward. I know this, I just don’t know how to change it.

Most of the fears I listed are fairly irrational or at least not super likely to happen. Honestly, I would have added loss of a child to that list as well because who really believes their child will die before them? That’s not how life is supposed to go. It’s the elderly who die, not our youth. That isn’t fair. That isn’t just. Yet it happens, and it happens more often than we think or want to think.

And my child didn’t just die. He CHOSE to take his own life. I mean in the great randomness of the world, this definitely shouldn’t have happened to me. Things like this don’t happen to people like our family. We are just an average, middle class family, working, going to school and doing life things.

I ask myself, what are the odds of it happening twice, and this is where it all goes haywire, because I still can’t believe it happened once. The thought of another loss in my immediate household walls – it’s unthinkable, it’s unimaginable. So, I continue to hold my breath every time my family gets into a car, fly’s on a plane, or does anything that requires leaving the safety of our home without me in tow. During the summer Reilly’s friends would all want to walk to each other’s houses or meet up at Taco Bell. I had to reach out to those moms and let them in on my demons. I had to arrange car rides with parents instead because all I could picture was Reilly being hit by a car on the corner of Williams Lake and Cooley Lake Road.

I feel like this worry, this fear, is the life of any mom, but mine came true. My greatest fear actually happened. My boys are my life. My husband is my life. My new granddaughter is my life. My future daughter-in-law is my life. Please God keep them safe. My heart can’t take it.

My new “normal”

I am tired of being bereaved. I want my life back.

“I’m tired of being bereaved. Tired of my son being dead. I want out. I want to go back to being a “normal mom” who didn’t make decisions about end of life, or what to do with ashes, or how to celebrate birthdays for a child who isn’t here to celebrate. I didn’t sign up for this life, and I’d like the one I planned for back, please.

Give me the uncomplicated small talk, the easy play dates, the simple family photos. Bring on the joyful holiday celebrations.

Return me to that place where sad stories were sad stories, not triggers reducing me to a pile of tears one day or a disassociated robot the next. Make me strong again, in the way only the ignorant can be.

Paint the world in black and white, in simple colors and shapes. Good things happen to good people, bad actions have consequences. Restore order and balance. Make sense of things.

Because this randomness, this roulette wheel of tragedy, it is heavy.” – Elizabeth Thoma

This is exactly how I feel. I could not have said it better than she does.

This isn’t how my life was supposed to go. I had other dreams and plans and all of those included having Nikolai physically part of my world.

I was not unfamiliar to grief before Nikolai died; however, the death of my child is vastly different than the losses I have experienced. For 15 years I raised this child. I read books to him, we ran together, went to the park, Pontiac Lake in the summer to swim. As a family we did vacations, camping, hiking, movies, hanging out at home. We laughed, we cried, we argued, we loved. And all of that is over. There will never be another day with him, another hug, another stupid joke.  

I just want my life back.

I am tired of this pendulum between grief and joy. I’m tired of having a day full of amazing dissolve into wracking sobs for what feels like no apparent reason. My anxiety is at an all time high. I worry every time Joe leaves on a business trip that something bad is going to happen like it did that day in June 2019. I fear every day the loss of another child because I honestly don’t think I could live through another. I am a colossal mess of what if’s and worry and damn it, it’s exhausting!

I have built up walls and I’ve mastered the fine art of pretending. I’m an extrovert that has slipped into an introvert. My circle has significantly shrunk and very much on purpose. I need to feel safe and I don’t mean physically (although that’s important to) – I mean in groups of people and conversation. Self-care and protecting my family is at the absolute forefront of my mind at all times.

I am a self-proclaimed hot mess! And yet, as much as I fight against this new life I have been forced to live, I know that this too shall pass as I evolve into God’s plan. The goals and dreams I had for my life were clearly not God’s. He has a different plan for me. In Genesis 1 – “His plan is good because of the purpose it will serve. It is good because of the hope it will give. It is good because of the lives it will save.”

On a dragonflys wings and a prayer, I find myself living on faith. Faith that the advocacy I am doing is educating people, bringing more awareness to grief, suicide and mental health. Most days I am full of hope and know that even in those moments of desperate heartache, I cannot quit.