Fault Lines: Bereaved Parents and Social Anxiety

I’m no geologist, but from what I understand, earthquakes are nearly always “about to happen”.  Fault lines guarantee it.  Pressure is building underneath the surface of the earth and when it reaches a level that can no longer be contained, it spews.

Can I just let you in on a secret?

Bereaved parents are full of fault lines.

Many of us are nearly ready to blow almost every single minute, yet hold it in and hold it together.  If you could put a meter to our temple and measure how close we are to a come apart, you would be amazed that it happens so rarely!

And this is why we sometimes say, “no” to an invitation.  It’s why we stay home from church or baby showers or weddings.  Not because we are anti-social, but because social situations present unique challenges to our desire to keep it together.

We don’t want to become the center of attention when the center of attention should be the mom-to-be or the wedding couple or the birthday boy.

It may be months or years or decades since our child ran ahead to heaven.  And you may think that’s enough time to “get over” or “get past” or “learn to live with” his or her absence.  In some ways it IS.  Most of us have a “game face” we plaster on to make it through ordinary days and even some extraordinarily difficult ones.

But underneath the veneer of “everything’s OK” there are the fault lines and when extra pressure is applied, we just know we might blow.

Many times I want to be there, really I do.  If I choose not to be, know that it’s because I am trying to be thoughtful, not ugly.  I stay home out of love, not disrespect.  

So please extend grace. 

Give me the benefit of the doubt. 

Let me bow out gracefully when I  know in advance my heart won’t be able to hold on. 

It’s best for both of us, really. ❤

the best we can falls shour

 

 

 

Author: Melanie

I am a shepherd, wife and mother of four amazing children, three that walk the earth with me and one who lives with Jesus. This is a record of my grief journey and a look into the life I didn't choose. If you are interested in joining a community of bereaved parents leaning on the promises of God in Christ, please like the public Facebook page, "Heartache and Hope: Life After Losing a Child" and join the conversation.

21 thoughts on “Fault Lines: Bereaved Parents and Social Anxiety”

  1. Dear Melanie, I am the newsletter editor for a Chapter of The Compassionate Friends and would like to put your article on Fault Lines in it; at this time of year with the holidays coming up it is perfect to let bereaved parents know that they have the choice to decline invitations. We do not charge for the newsletter and it is one of our best resources to help our members who do not attend meetings. Of course, I would give credit to you with your copyright. I think this article is wonderful and says it so well. Thank you in advance for your consideration.

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    1. As long as you reproduce the article in its entirety and add the copyright info: Copyright 2017 Melanie DeSimone thelifeididntchoose.com -that wil be fine. My primary desire for this blog is that it help other hurting hearts. The only reason I do the copyright is to protect what is distributed in my name and attributed to my website. Thank you for devoting time, attention and energy to blessing other broken hearts. ❤

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  2. Thank you. It’s been a few months short of 3 years since I lost Jeremy. Every time I think I have it together, I really dont. It’s discouraging. I dislike this fragile feeling. The fact is that anxiety is blanket I sleep with. I wake with it. I walk through the day with it draped over my shoulders. How do I shed it?

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    1. Julie, I don’t know your precise situation-it could be that your anxiety falls within the range of “normal” (whatever that is!) for bereaved parents. Or it could be that you need to bring it to your doctor’s attention. If you can’t sleep or function then you may need some counseling or meds. I have taken anxiety meds on an “as needed” basis for big events since Dom left us. On a daily basis, I use exercise and gentle stretching to help me cope with anxiety. I do limit the number of commitments I make that predispose me to feeling anxious. And when I know I’m going to face a particular situation, I walk through it in my mind and find all the ways I can escape if necessary. Often just having a plan in place is enough. Praying that the Lord will give you wisdom for your situation and that He will fill your heart with His mercy, grace and love. ❤

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  3. Melanie, I can really relate to this post, so thank you. Even after 7 years plus, I still struggle with this. My husband’s career requires us to attend many social events of all kinds. Sometimes I do well, sometimes I don’t, and am having a silent pity party, not wanting to be there. The triteness of some settings wears on me; the shallow, brief conversations at some events get old. Many people who did know at one time, have probably forgotten. It’s good for all of us in our “club” to be around people, tho; the gatherings that help me the most are with close friends who know our situation and we can all be real with each other! Thank you, Melanie, you always say what I’m feeling!

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  4. This is so true. I put my game face on everyday but deep down I am so sad and feel like some days I’m not going to ever get through this. My son has passed 5 years ago and some days the pain is unbearable. I know my son is safe with GOD an this is what gets me through

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    1. I am so sorry for your loss and your pain, Cheryl. We do have a game face, don’t we? I think I got pretty good at putting mine on around the 2 year mark. Now I’m amazed at how I can pull it out and slap it on when I need to. But there are some days, some events that break right through all the preparation. I pray that God will continue to give you the strength you need to endure this journey. ❤

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    1. I still stay away from some but can manage a few now. At first it just was not going to happen. Everything and everywhere made me cry. You may find that you can re-enter social life a bit at a time. ❤

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    1. Goodness! Online shopping is my friend too! I do as much as I can online-I am better able to think and choose when I’m not battling anxiety caused by being out and among people. ❤

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    1. A volcano is another great analogy for all that emotional turmoil just under the surface. I’m sure you will get your thoughts together soon. Sometimes another person’s post helps clarify my own thoughts.

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  5. You always say exactly how I am feeling or dealing with an issue. Four months after my Laura went to heaven we were invited to a special dear girl friends 70 th birthday party. All our best close friends would be there. I had been to an event since she died so I was anxious about going for exactly the reasons you mentioned. After over a week of should I go or maybe in not ready to face everyone. I did go but I felt like I was the ELEpHANT in the room. I didn’t want the attention to be on us ( me). Your Blogs have helped me so much. I feel like I’ve been to a grief counselor. Thank you for sharing your insightful thoughts. Unfortunately we’re all in this journey together. God bless you & prayers.

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    1. I’m very thankful the posts help your heart. It encourages me to continue when people share that they do. It’s always a tough call when the event is one celebrating a person we are very close to. I’ve gone to some and hung back on others. Mostly I go but find a quiet corner after congratulating the person of honor. Then I slip out before I become too emotional. I’m so sorry you have to carry this burden. I pray God gives you the strength you need for each day. ❤

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  6. This is so true. Altough it’s been over three years since my son past I’ve come to define it as a thin crust over a cauldron of rolling emotions. So goes right with your earthquake picture. Sometimes the crust stays in tact, some times it cracks and the emotions leak out and roll down my cheeks. I try before certain events that I know will be difficult to let the emotions leak out a bit in private (like letting built up pressure out) and sometimes that can help me get through those events. Other times, the cracks come unbidden and unexpected.
    It’s a comfort to know others have similar experiences.

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    1. None of us wishes this pain on anyone else, but the truth is, others DO bear the same burden. There is a kind of contagious courage in finding others that truly understand. You are most certainly NOT alone, dear heart. Praying that you feel the Father’s loving arms around you today and every day.. ❤

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