Coping With Post Loss Anxiety: There’s More To the Story #DearWidow

Your anxiety is understandable.
You feel out of control, like you're missing things, and out of sync with the whole world.
You might feel like slightly selfish for wanting to be free of the burdens of adult-ing for a little while.

Anxiety comes from feeling out of control…and playing a narrative in your head that you've accomplished nothing, you're overwhelmed and have no idea where to start. It feels lazy and pitiful and hopeless and you just wish you could press reset – back to when things were normal.

Just. Breathe.

First of all… nobody has control over how their story goes, ends, or begins again. Its all  a free fall. That's not comforting. What IS comforting to ME is that, I can regain control by changing the narrative to point out what I CAN do in my response, or evidence of what HAS worked in the past. If it means I need to stop, breathe, and make a concerted effort to remembering the GOOD, doing something positive in response, or resolving to just make new goals from the broken pieces of the last goals… so be it.  What is also helpful is to stop using ONLY the bad parts of my situation of widowhood… and every “down” I experience hereafter to define ME. I define me. The GOOD stuff – the wins, the triumphs, the times things DIDN'T go all to hell – they happened too! It took ALL of the things, good and bad, to make up my story. ALL of them helped me see what defines me.


What is also helpful is to stop using my situation of widowhood… and every “up and down” I experience hereafter to define ME. …
It took ALL of the things, good and bad, to make up my story. ALL of them helped me see what defines me.


And then there's the worrying and the imagining of horrible outcomes being a survivor of death. The worst use of imagination is worry. Worrying is for people with time to waste. Because that's all it is. A waste of time. Its hard to enjoy anything anymore because you worry its going to be taken away, like your husband was. You don't want to love anyone else or start anything new because whats the point?! I get it. You're worried that rug is going to get pulled out from under you again. And that's understandable.

When Jason died I blamed myself for not being outside playing with him and the kids at the time. If I'd been out there ….. you know the rest. When my son got a D on his report card, I labeled myself an inattentive mom and got angry at myself. When my other son got pneumonia I felt helpless and worried incessantly… maybe I wasn't giving him meds enough or using the humidifier. Why do I have HAVE children – one day they are just gonna go – just like everything else… and on and on…


But….even though THOSE are the parts that replay in your head and keep you up at night – that's not all there is to the narrative!

Faith is an interesting thing. We use it for everything. We have faith that if we flap our arms we wont fly. Faith that pain hurts and bad things happen. Faith that tragedy and mayhem are real and we cant control them. Faith that things live and then die. Because we have proof.

If that's the case, what about when things go right? What about the countless amount of evidence we have that MOST of the things we worried so hard about yesterday – didn't happen? And the day before that… and the year before that…. Why do we never use that as ammo for our anxiety? Regardless of if we worried or not – we still had to wait and see didn't we? And sometimes, it does turn out OK. Probably just as many times if not more – than when it doesn't, right? Where is our faith in the God that provides the GOOD times, too? Its like when the kids are mad at you for saying “no”. And you're the worst mom ever. What about ALL the 50-eleven times you said yes!!! Dont you wish they remembered that? God wants you to remember THOSE things too.

You just cant live life getting rolled by “what ifs” and “maybes” and “what's the points”. You are not made of your fears, your worries, or your current marital circumstance. You are MORE than that. Life is not only pain and suffering. You KNOW that. Play the GOOD times in that narrative too. Remember that YOU control who you are and what you do in response to all the things good or bad. You can decide what defines you, and how you get through ANY thing life throws at you. And regaining control of the narrative – THAT is the best weapon against anxiety.

Hang in there, dear widow. Keep pushing. We got this.

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