April 27, 2022
Short answer, no … and yes.
Let me start with the ‘no.’ After experiencing the loss of a loved one via death, it’s not uncommon to cling more tightly to those around you. As a matter of fact, death heightens the reality that in any given moment, your entire life as you know it can drastically change. So working hard to strengthen the existing relationships in your life is quite understandable.
To be honest, one outgrowth of experiencing significant loss is the recognition that relationships really, really matter. At the end of the day, beyond our careers and other accomplishments, relationships are what anchor and tether us to what matters most in life.
My mom’s death in December 2012 reminded me not only how much I wanted to be in deeper connection with friends and family, but also that I needed to be in connection. My budding career, while important, became less of a focal point in my life. I cared less about ‘winning’ in life and centered my activity on meaningful travels and adventures with those closest to me.
I couldn’t have imagined any potential concerns about clinging too tightly to anyone at the time. Can you relate, my friend?
Now, on to the ‘yes.’
I’ll dive into this by sharing a brief story.
My dad‘s relatively sudden death in March 2020 thrust me into a space where I was on the brink of physically attaching myself to my now fiancé, David. No kidding! In the months that followed my dad‘s death, David showed up so well. So well … that I almost forgot what it was like to care for myself and identify my own needs. His delicate and thoughtful attention, while amazing to receive, left me feeling ill equipped and scared to do a lot of things. For example, I found myself seeking him out to affirm whether my decisions were good or bad. I leaned on him as my rock. My anchor. And it was emotionally grounding to know that he would dependably be there for me.
At the same time, if David didn’t call and check on me at a certain time each day, I felt my anxiety rise. It got to the point where my social circle rapidly shrank, and my support centered squarely on him.
Regardless of your responses to the questions, know there’s no room for self-judgment. What’s important is to first, simply take stock of how tethered you are to others. Afterwards, you can determine how to better balance those connections with the connection to and for yourself.
The best you can do is ask yourself the tough questions. Mid-course correct as needed. And extend self-compassion along the journey.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Learn more about managing your lifestyle, love, leadership, and loyalties to God, self, and others by clicking here: https://mekelharrisphd.com/.