After the loss of a child, we can experience fear and anxiety. They go hand in hand with feelings of anger and guilt. Suffering through the grief cycle takes at least a year and usually 3-5 years. One of the worst things a friend or family member can do is rush a grieving parent. If that parent’s coping mechanism is to flee the situation, rather than to fight, then that “fleeing” can yield high levels of fear. That fear of grieving and the intense pain that goes with it will paralyze the person such that they may avoid the process altogether.
What is fear?
It is a feeling of anxiety and agitation (a violent stirring up) caused by the presence of danger, pain, etc.
What is anxiety?
It is a state of being uneasy or worried about what may happen – characterized by a feeling of powerlessness and inability to cope.
What fears do we have after the loss of a child?
Fear you can’t make it through grief – “Will it ever get better?”
Fear the child will be forgotten by you & by others
Fear it will happen again
Fear for living children/husband/relatives – that they may die
Fear of living, because you realize you have no control
Fear of going back to work – “What will people say or do?”
Fear of new situations/questions where you have to explain
There are other fears to be aware of:
Our living children will have fears about dying or about their parents dying.
Many of our friends and family will have fear to be around someone grieving. They fear they won’t know what to say or will say something to make you cry. They may even fear what I call the “contagiousness” of death.
Why do we fear?
My personal revelation regarding fear and anxiety is that my fears are the things I try to control. I think that I can do something by myself or do it better or quicker than God can. I think that the intense pain of grieving is going to be unmanageable, and I try to control it by not feeling or getting too busy. However, it’s really all about letting go of control.
For example, I may fear that my living child will die too. I take control of every possible situation that that child is in and protect them, even over-protect them, so that nothing will happen to them. But, I really have no control over when God chooses to take them home. I am living with extremely high anxiety over the situation because I think I can control their future. I can’t.
The word fear in the Bible means awe. When we fear things, other than fearing (having awe for) God, we give them a status/importance they should not have. We fear because we do not trust (God.) We fear because we want to have control. We fear because we think we have control. We fear because we do not stay in the present. Fear is future-oriented. We fear what hasn’t happened yet and may never happen. So stay in the present and trust in God’s control.
What are some answers to combating fear?
The Bible says, “Be anxious for nothing, but by prayer and supplication, let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6
The answer to combating fear is prayer! It’s that simple. What’s difficult is to stop taking back control. We pray; we give it to God; and then, we take it back.
With prayer comes peace. The rest of the quote above says, “AND the peace of God will guard your hearts.” We face a lot when we grieve. Any amount of peace is useful to the healing process. We must trust God to get us though. Prayer helps wash us in peace. But this does not come naturally, so we must work hard to maintain our trust in the Lord.
Avoiding prayer is a sure prescription for fear/anxiety. We may want to look for something more “substantial” than prayer – we want to DO something or rely on things more tangible than God. And Satan would rather we do ANYTHING but pray. But, “prayers turn chaos into calm, cries into comfort and cowards into conquerors.” Beth Moore - Breaking Free
My Fear (Agitation)
My Prayer (Peace)
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