“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” -C.S. Lewis
It’s been 18 months since Brad’s death and I still feel full of fear. Grief tends to do that - bring up all kinds of fears, some more rational than others. Fear of getting sick and dying of cancer seems to be an obvious one. Fear of an unknown future ahead is another. Fear of loneliness. Fear of public perception. Fear of failure.
But so many fears within grief seem to be wrapped in an impossible duality, one where you feel stuck between two opposing forces - like being both afraid of the dark and afraid of the light. At all times the pain of the loss is also, concurrently, connected with the joy of remembrance.
Living life in this duality of grief isn’t easy. But the only way to prevent those fears from holding you back is to feel them, acknowledge them, and eventually let them go.
So in an effort to release them, here are (some of) my (many) fears.
I am afraid I will never get over the loss of Brad. That his death is so entwined in my body and in my soul, that I will be broken forever.
And I am afraid of feeling his loss less. Of continuing on with my life and not thinking about him every waking (and sometimes sleeping) second. I am afraid of the day I wake up and his absence feels normal.
I am afraid of forgetting. Forgetting all the tiny little things that made up Brad. His mannerisms. His expressions. His witty banter. His laugh.
And I am afraid of remembering. His diagnosis. His rapid decline. All the trauma that still haunts me surrounding his death.
I am afraid of being alone forever. Of never connecting with anyone the way I did with Brad. Never again being seen or understood. Never being supported. Never having a partner to go through the joys and pain that life inevitably throws at us.
And I am afraid of not being alone. Of being open and vulnerable enough to let my guard down. To let someone else in. To allow another into my grief. Into my joy. To let someone else see and understand and support me.
I am afraid of never feeling like myself again. Of old traits - that used to come so freely - now come a little slower and with an extra weight of heaviness.
And I am afraid of this person I am becoming. This person that I have grown to respect and admire, but is inescapably different. I am afraid of changing so much that I would be unrecognizable to Brad.
I am afraid of the future. Of everything yet to come. I am afraid of planning a new future built for one, instead of the old future, built for two.
And I am afraid of the past. I am afraid of feeling stuck in the past and forgetting to fully live in the present. I am afraid that every future joy will be compared to every past joy.
I am afraid of how much I feel pain. Not just my own, but in other’s who are experiencing loss too. I am afraid of how much I will feel future pains, before they even arrive.
And I am afraid of becoming numb to pain. Of losing that empathy and becoming jaded. I am afraid that because of my experience I might one day start to minimize that pain.
I am afraid of grief. The grief that sits so deep in my bones that it creates a burden to every joyful experience. That for the rest of my life, every happy moment will be coupled with the weight of grief.
And I am afraid of joy. Of every single blissful moment that Brad will never get to experience alongside me.
I am afraid of death. And I am afraid of life.
I am afraid of it all.
I am afraid.
And I don’t want to be afraid.