It’s funny how you don’t think of death or your own mortality when you’re younger. Even after losing my Nana, whom I was extremely close to, death never registered in my brain as a real fear in life. But then as you get older and time becomes more precious, you have a family and build a cultivated group of friendships. Death suddenly starts to plague your senses.
When I was diagnosed with stage 3 cervical cancer, death was at my doorstep daily. It would come for coffee, watch tv with me, share its stories online and in social media. No matter what I did, death was something I couldn’t stop thinking about. Even now talking about it heightens the panic I feel when I think about being without the people I love, and I’ve done everything to try to learn to cope with it. Except deal with it.
I would find myself thinking about my kids. I couldn’t imagine life without them. Doing so makes me bawl right away, tightens my chest and the doomsday effect takes over my body. The pain of never seeing someone I love, or even me not being here is so heart wrenching that I felt avoiding the thoughts altogether was just easier than even contemplating the idea.
I was wrong.
I read an article today that not only made me cry so hard, and I mean full out ugly crying. The kind that when doing it you are making sounds like an animal dying, the article was about how since becoming a mom this woman thinks more about death.
Now usually an article like this makes me hit the back button almost immediately, but I couldn’t stop myself from reading and I’m really glad I did. It brought me comfort to know I’m not alone in the fears I have in dealing with death, and that by not dealing with those fears become actually magnified than if I was to think about it.
“As a therapist, I have used a similar technique with my clients. When they’d say, “I just can’t imagine life without him,” I’d say, “Let’s do that… let’s imagine how your life would be if you were on your own. Where would you live? What kind of place would you have? ” — Andrea Nair
I realized after reading Andrea’s story she has a valid point. I had never really allowed myself to think about the reality of my fear. What would I do? Where would I be? Would I survive it? If I die of cancer how are my kids going to be? What would they do? Would they be okay?
Even just asking the questions causes my heart to palpitate, hands break out in a sweat and I can’t breathe right. But after thinking about and doing this — actually focusing on the reality of dealing with death both my own and my children or the ones I love, I have to say it’s gotten a bit easier.
I know Andrea’s article isn’t going to cure my fears with death. I’m still going to cry about it. Being an empath makes life so much harder for me when I’m so in tune with not just my own emotions but others around me. But her story taught me that it’s better to face something, even if it makes you feeling uncomfortable than it is to live with ignorance to walk through life with an oblivious smile.
Fears can be debilitating. They can keep you from experiencing life’s greatest journeys. As a mother I don’t want my children to be afraid. Afraid to try new things. Afraid to do something because the ‘just in case’ pops into their mind. I want them to be free to live life to the fullest. How can I expect them to do that if I allow my own fears in losing them or my own death get in the way of that? I just can’t.
I just can’t.
Thank you, Andrea for sharing your story. It has truly helped me cope with my fears. Each day is struggle, but I know I can use the tools you’ve shared to move past the fears that keep me locked away. I’m grateful for that.
You can read Andrea’s full article: I Think About Death Much More Since Becoming A Mom over at Yummy Mummy. She’s an amazing talent.