If there’s one fear keeping me up at night, it’s the fear of losing a loved one. And it’s particularly strong on days I have to separate from my partner or child because of a trip. My mind comes up with every possible worst case scenario that I just want to curl up in a ball and cry.
Other times, this fear isn’t just about a possibility. We know we’re about to lose someone because they’re in a situation where long-term separation or death is inevitable. Whereas many of our day-to-day fears focus on highly unlikely outcomes, it’s a fact of life that we’re going to lose someone who means a lot to us. More often, we’re also the ones who have to be there for someone who faced a loss.
So here’s the coping process I’ve started following late last year and I hope these things might help you, too:
Recognize that loss and the fear of losing someone are a normal part of life.
As hard and painful as it is, it’s the circle of life and it’s out of our control. So every time this fear creeps up, I take a deep breath and tell myself exactly that. “Loss is part of life.” And then I focus on what I actually can control, which is my own behavior and how I choose to respond to life’s hardships. Lately, I keep choosing mindfulness, because it anchors me in the present moment.
Some form of meditation, or simply focusing on the breath, is one part of this. The other is gratitude. I remind myself how lucky I am to have this person in my life and vow to make the best of the time we have together.
Figure out which activities help you cope and do them.
Some of the things that help me cope with loss and the fear of losing someone are writing/journaling, hiking/walking or exercising, art and music, meditation/prayer, and crying. Talking about it is essential for me as well—be it with family, friends, a support group, therapist or spiritual guide. For me, community is one of the keys to health and happiness.
Work toward your independence and purpose.
Image: Marcelo Matarazzo