When our lives are touched by the loss of a child, many things happen to us that change us from the inside out. Aside from life-long pain and grief, other changes occur that we’re often afraid to mention for fear of thinking we’re the only one or that we might be wrongly judged.
Fear. The fear that accompanies child loss is overwhelming.
We fear all kinds of things — fear of the future, fear of today, fear of never being able to smile again, fear of not having enough strength and hope to go on in this life, but most of all we fear something that we’re almost hesitant to say for fear of it happening. We live day in and day out with the fear of losing another child.
Why? Why do we add pain to pain and worry to worry? Why do we complicate life even more? Why do we do this to ourselves?
We fear losing another child because our thinking process says, “If the unimaginable can happen once, it can happen again.” And, so we begin to smother those around us. We worry continuously — never do we rest peacefully for fear of getting another phone call hearing the most dreaded of all words, “I’m so sorry.”
After my sister died at age thirteen, our family changed so much. My mother became depressed and practically immobilized with grief. My dad seldom smiled and he wore his grief on the outside for a very long time.
Something else changed. My mom and dad were so overly-protective of me and my younger sister. I didn’t at all understand then, but I sure did learn some hard life lessons in fear later in my own life!
I was almost sixteen when my sister died, and when I turned eighteen I wanted to go to college. In fact, I had a full scholarship to further my education making me about the happiest person alive! Until……..it came time to talk about college with my parents. They flipped out on me. Why? Because they didn’t want me moving away! They had such a fear of losing me. They had a horrible fear that if I moved away they’d never see me again. Or, if I moved away something terrible would happen to me such as a car accident or sickness and they wouldn’t be there to help me.
Fear. Fear is a sidebar of child loss. That horribly, paralyzing, underlying fear of losing another child.
After I got married and began my own family, there was one constant prayer I said daily. “Dear God, please don’t ever take one of my children away. Please. I don’t ever want to go through that kind of pain. ” I repeated this prayer morning, noon, night and anytime I had a spare minute in-between!
No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t shake that fear. I never, ever wanted to be as full of pain as I was when my sister died, and I never, ever wanted to go through what my parents did when my sister died.
And, then the one thing I feared the most happened. My son Samuel died.
It is now twenty-five years since the death of Samuel and I sincerely wish that I could tell you that all of my fear is gone. I wish so much that I could say I never, ever worry that one of my living children will be taken away. I wish I could say that I live in total peace and harmony every day of my life. But, if I’m being honest, I can’t say that.
Every day I pray over my living children asking God’s protection on them. Yet, I know from experience that this life is full of sorrow and pain. And, children still die. And, when I go to that place in my private thoughts, I begin to shake with fear. Why? Because if it could happen once, it could happen again. And, I’m so afraid. Nobody that I know of who has lost a child ever passes that off lightly and says, “Well, if it happens, it’s just one of those things.”
We shake from the inside out with fear.
So, how should we live our lives since we know we can’t live in this deep, immobilizing fear all of the time? For me, it helps for me to envision an angel by each of my children watching over them. That gives me some peace of mind.
I have forced myself to give my children the right to live their own lives. They are all adults now, but the worry factor still enters. Yet, I know I must “let go, and let God.” When my fear thoughts begin to overtake me, I have to take a walk and begin doing something that will take my mind off of the fear of losing another child.
Note: Since becoming “gram”, I’ve noticed that my worry has been upped by about ten degrees. Not only do I fear losing one of my children, but I fear losing a grandchild. I’m shaking as I write these words — too afraid to even say what I’m thinking for fear it might happen.
Losing a child leaves our hears broken and shattered in so many different ways!
I’m finding that the more I bring to surface my fear of losing another child and talk about it, the less power the fear holds over me. And, it helps me to never go to bed angry with one of my children. God forbid, should something happen, I don’t want to be grieved by guilt for the remainder of my days on this earth!
As parents and grandparents of loss, we walk such a fine line, don’t we? We want to hope and trust in life again, yet…….that nagging fear seems to always cast its horrible shadow over us. It never seems to go away completely no matter how hard we try!
I’d love it if you’d share your thoughts on this blog. I’m sure many of you reading this have shared similar fears as mine. Share here and let us know what has helped you to let go of that fear.
Our living children need us to be parents — not hovering over and keeping them from spreading their wings and tasting the deliciousness of life. It’s easy to say those words, yet so very hard to do!
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this topic of fear of losing another child. It’s so hard to know how to shed this fear, when we don’t talk about it! It is my prayer that we will use this blog as a place where we’ll constantly be learning and growing together.
My love to each one,