I didn’t know much about grief when my son, Ben, passed away. I certainly have learned a lot over the past eight years. Something I didn’t expect from our loss is an anxiety that developed about who will be next. Many of the people we help report the same fear.
Mothers who have lost a child, and who have other children, become overly protective of the ones who are still living. They are constantly checking on them and rightly so—they fear another loss. The children are wondering why this is happening and often feel smothered. Especially if they are older and have been operating independently for some time. Questions like, “What time will you be home?” and “Who are you going out with?” are often met with rolled eyes and irritation.
For me, my “next person” is my husband. If I try to call him (when he is not at the office) and he doesn’t answer right away, I go right into “did something happen?” mode. And panic starts to set in. I usually wait a few minutes and try again. Often with the same results. Because he is doing life and caught up in a project outside or in the garage…or maybe even taking a shower. But the fact that he doesn’t answer right away immediately spells gloom and doom for me.
I have to stop and remind myself that this is my imagination and get off the worry train. Push the thoughts out of my brain and go to one of my happy places. Of course, it makes me want to hurry home faster to check on him. And then I arrive and act kind of upset with him that he didn’t pick up when I called. Which makes him defensive and feeling like he messed up and then we have this tension in the air to deal with.
It’s best to communicate about this issue and reach an agreement to be as accessible as possible. After all, I didn’t choose to be on this grief journey and like many, had no idea that it would create this kind of fear.
I am still learning that I am not in control of what happens. Of future losses. All I can do is treasure and celebrate the people in my life and love them for as long as they are here.