April 19, 2021
Before you stop reading, please let me share a quick story.
After my dad died last year, my sweet partner, David, put his work to the side in order to fly to Texas and spend two uninterrupted weeks with me and my brothers as we grieved. (Pretty amazing support, I know!)
Given my low energy at the time, David tended to my every need. From making sure I ate each day to washing and combing my hair to massaging my stiff shoulders, he offered tangible comfort in beautiful ways. He did so well that after we returned home, I expected him to continue offering support in this way. Quite frankly, what woman wouldn’t want this?
Truth be told, David did continue his ‘supportive partner of the year’ streak for weeks. I’d come home, only to discover he’d mowed my yard. And on more than one occasion, he delivered groceries right to my front doorstep without my having to even ask!
Pretty incredible, I know.
David did everything he could to make me feel loved and supported … until he didn’t anymore. Well, at least not in the same way.
Roughly 3 months after my dad’s death, he began to return to his normal work routine. Sometimes, he traveled out of town and other times, he spent time with family and friends without me. Ridiculous, right?
Looking back now, I can see David’s love manifested in my favorite love languages … acts of service and words of affirmation. At the time, however, anger blossomed inside, as I interpreted his return to normalcy as abandonment in our relationship.
I found myself growing irritated at him for not doing enough, saying enough, or praying enough.
A few weeks into my mounting frustration, I called a dear friend. With a decade-long friendship, she’s one of the only folks who I’ll allow to speak truth — even hard truth — into my life. On the other end of that phone call, her words rang true and oh, so loud.
Wait, what???? Did she just say what I think she said????
Yes, she did. Ouch!
After crying for what seemed like forever, I wiped my tears away and began to listen to the essence of my friend’s sage advice. And I realized that after experiencing another significant loss, coupled with the isolation I felt as a result of the pandemic, I literally clung to David. On top of that, I discovered that the root of my clinginess was fear … fear that another person I loved would soon die.
If three of the most important people (including my beloved Beagle) could die within an 8-year timespan, who was next?
It’s a common experience for many who grieve. If you’re experiencing grief-related fear or anxiety, here’s a step-by-step guide for working through it: https://modernloss.com/10-ways-to-overcome-grief-related-anxiety/.
On the heels of my conversation with my girlfriend, David and I sat together, and I helped him understand my fear. I also apologized for putting him in a position to feel like he had to be my everything. The conversation was a game-changer in our relationship, not that I don’t occasionally wrestle with things even now.
Friend, if you’re struggling with fears after experiencing loss, you’re not alone.
Here’s my statement: “God, I can’t change the fact that my dad died. And I also can’t control the timing of other’s deaths. Help me to love hard in the now, focused only on my time with loved ones today. Give me the courage to show up without fear and tame the fear, should it arise. I trust you and accept what I don’t know and cannot change. Amen.”
I am capable. I am courageous. I’m whole.
Friend, so are you.
Let me know.
If you’re interested in learning more about managing your lifestyle, love, leadership, and loyalties to God, self, and others, click here: https://mekelharrisphd.com/.