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When Grief Leads to Fear

“I’m terrified. I’m afraid of everything now,” Eddy said, her head in her hands.

Eddy’s adult daughter Cassie had been killed in a high-speed, five-car accident, along with her husband and her two small children. She was 30.

“A whole family gone, just like that,” she said, snapping her fingers.

“How do I live in a world where things like this can happen? I can barely get in a car anymore, let alone drive. I want to grab the rest of my family and lock us all in this house! I’m scared stiff. What’s going to happen next? I can’t afford to lose anyone else,” Eddy shared.

 

Fear can be powerful

When loss hits our lives, our world is shattered. Fear is a common and natural result.

After all, if this can happen, what else might?

The death of a loved one surfaces fears we didn’t know we had. Suddenly we’re staring at our own mortality – along with the mortality of everyone else we love and care about.

Accidents. Sudden illnesses. Natural disasters. Diseases. Violence. Murder. War.

Anything. Any time. Anywhere. Anyone.

As C.S. Lewis said, grief can feel much like fear.

Fear and anxiety go hand-in-hand. Terror and panic often come visiting together.

Fear is a natural and common part of grieving the loss of someone we love.

“No wonder I’m afraid. Your death is like a nightmare.”

 

An exercise to try:

When fear strikes, taking some form of action can help unplug the fear’s intensity.

Here’s a simple action you can take when you find yourself afraid:

  • Find a small object to symbolize your fear (it can be anything you can hold easily in one hand– a pen, pencil, keys, etc.).
  • Take a moment and breathe deeply.
  • Grip the object (your fear) tightly in your hand, and continue to breathe deeply.
  • Verbalize your fear: “I’m afraid of / that…”
  • Slowly release your grip on the object and let it fall.
  • Continue breathing deeply.
  • Ask yourself, “Is there another action I can take to unplug this fear?”

This exercise illustrates some key elements in dealing with fear:

  • Acknowledge the fear.
  • Identify the fear – label it as specifically as possible.
  • Feel the fear, and then release it.
  • If possible, take action to further unplug the fear. 

From a fellow griever:

“Writing out my thoughts and feelings was the single most helpful thing I did. Be real. Be honest.”


From the newly released bestseller SHATTERED: Surviving the Loss of a Child. View the Shattered videos here: Gary, Michelle

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About the Author

Gary Roe is an author, speaker, and chaplain with Hospice Brazos Valley. He is the author of the award-winning bestsellers Shattered: Surviving the Loss of a Child, Please Be Patient, I'm Grieving, HEARTBROKEN: Healing from the Loss of a Spouse, and Surviving the Holidays without You and the co-author (with New York Times Bestseller Cecil Murphey) of Saying Goodbye: Facing the Loss of a Loved One. Visit him at www.garyroe.com.

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