Recently my mother’s only brother died. I’m in a state of depression now. How can I overcome the fear of losing loved ones? ~ Harikaevani
Hey Harikaevani, first off, I’m really sorry to hear about the loss of your uncle. I sincerely hope you, your mom, and all your uncle/your loved ones are coping well with the loss.
I guess the most important advice I can give with regards to the fear of losing loved ones is not to focus on the fear, but to focus on loving them while they are around instead.
Because we can’t change the fact that people are going to die and leave us one day. Death is part and parcel of life as birth is, and to reject death would be to reject life itself. Rather than live in fear that people around us are going to die (which they are by virtue that we are all humans), why not accept that life is transient and focus on living in the moment instead?
For example, my parents are getting on in their years—my mom and dad are 59 and 60 respectively this year. While they have a few good decades ahead of them, there will be a point when they will no longer be cognizant due to old age. They will be a point when they will be too old to move or get by with their daily lives. Last but not least, there will be a point when they will die as a natural result of old age.
These are saddening events if you ask me. I know I will be shattered the day that happens. I know I will grief and feel an immense sense of loss. I know that life will never be the same after they pass on.
However, I also know that there is no point in resisting these events, for there is nothing I can do about them. The most I can do is to influence my parents to live healthily (which they already are to a large part actually), but even then living healthily will help them live a longer and better quality life, not avoid death itself.
So rather than let myself be ruled by fear of impending events due to old age, I focus on loving them the best I can today.
For example, yesterday was Father’s Day and I bought a tiramisu cake for my father to express my love for him. My dad has always told me not to bother with gifts for special occasions as he regards them as a waste of money, but I bought the cake anyway as I just wanted him to know that I love him. While he gave the usual spiel of how I should not have wasted my money on the gift, I know he is secretly happy and appreciates my gesture deep down inside.
This is just a one-off event though; showing affection for my dad doesn’t end with just buying a cake/gift. Lately I have been focusing on showing care for my parents through daily actions, from greeting them to being more communicative. My boyfriend has positively influenced me in this direction as he is highly respectful to his parents and mine, and seeing him behave this way encourages me to do the same (be respectful) to my parents as I know that I can do better as their daughter.
The interesting thing is that for many years in the past, I wouldn’t have bothered with being affectionate or opening myself up to them as they had shut me down repeatedly in the past when I tried to do so. I would think, “Why bother? No matter what I do, they would shut down my actions anyway.” or “Geez, [X action] would be so mushy. There’s no need to do any of this with Pa/Ma.” or “Pa/Ma will still be around for a long time, so I can just do [X action] next time rather than now.”
Today, my mindset is one of, “If I don’t do this (show my affection) today, then when? When they die? When they are no longer around? When life throws me a hard one?” Thinking this way makes it easy for me to start showing my love openly. I know that I rather wear my heart on my sleeve, even at the risk of them shutting me down, than regret not expressing my love to them when it’s too late to do so.
Likewise for you, think about how you can start showing more love to your loved ones today. How can you better treasure the time you have together? What can you do (more of) to show your love for them? What can you say to let them know you care?
If you have loved ones whom you have been out of touch with (for example, an estranged relationship or simply because you have been busy with other things in life), how can you reconnect with them? How can you ensure that you don’t lose touch again after reconnecting?
Identify these actions and do them right away. Don’t put off your acts/words of love to a “next time”. Don’t say “maybe” you will do it. Love is meant to be expressed in the “now”; to do anything else is to let fear step in the way.
Here’s much love to all of you. May we treasure every moment we have with our loved ones today and moving forward.
- Do You Dread Growing Older?
- How to Improve Your Relationship with Your Parents (4-part series)
- 5 Ways to Avoid the Biggest Regrets of Dying (My guest post at Marc and Angel)
- How to Overcome Fear (3-part series)
- Put First Things First
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