I’ve written before about anxiety and child loss here. No matter the cause of death, the FACT of a child’s death seems to create the perfect conditions for a parent’s body and mind to experience anxiety, dis-ease, fear and often a sense of impending doom.
My world was rocked to its foundation the moment I heard the words, “He was killed in a motorcycle accident”.
The worst thing I could imagine had come true.
There was no protection from it happening again, no guarantee that THIS unbearable pain would be the ONLY unbearable pain I would have to carry.
I think my body chemistry was instantly transformed that morning to include rapid heartbeats, shallow breathing and a horrible creepy tension that climbs my spine and clenches its claws tightly at the base of my skull.
Before Dominic left us for Heaven I was not an anxious person.
No matter what happened, I generally took it in stride, looked for a solution and moved forward armed with an arsenal of choices to meet the problem head on.
Now, I can be pushed into a corner by an ordinary phone call that lasts too long. I can feel trapped if a price fails to ring up properly and I have to wait to have it corrected by a head cashier. I can become positively frantic when I reach in my purse and can’t find my keys even though I know for a fact I put them there and if I look a bit harder I’ll find them.
Traffic makes my heart go pitter-patter. The doorbell sends me flying to make sure it’s the UPS man and not another police officer to tell me heartbreaking news.
If I try to multi-task (which I rarely do) I am soon overwhelmed and have to sit down to catch my breath.
I only shop in stores where I’m familiar with the aisles and where products I need are shelved.
I check and re-check directions if I have to go to an unfamiliar address and leave with double the time needed to get there in case I get lost. Making on-the-fly course corrections doesn’t happen.
I pull off and have to figure out where I am.
And heaven forbid the phone rings past midnight -I wake with a start and even a wrong number means I won’t sleep for the rest of the night.
This is not “worry”. It’s not “borrowing trouble from tomorrow”. It is not an indication that my faith is weak or I’m “caving in” to my feelings.
It’s an uncontrollable physiological response to various stimuli.
So please, please don’t judge me or other bereaved parents for making choices about where we go, when we go and how much we go-most of the time we are anticipating an anxious response and trying to beat it.
We are doing the best we can.