The flip side of fear

 photo by  Xin Li

photo by Xin Li

No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.
— C.S. Lewis

The first dead body I had ever seen or touched was the dead body of my son. And so I know: anything can happen. Nothing can be done about it. I will live the rest of my life in a state of constant fear.

or

The first dead body I had ever seen or touched was the dead body of my son. And so I know: anything can happen. Nothing can be done about it. I will live the rest of my life in a state of constant release.

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They say if your brain registers an imminent car crash, fight the urge to tense every muscle in your body. Being rigid is how we exacerbate our own injury. Go limp.

Could I? It's not what my body would want to do. My body would want to clench every tooth, grip, joint, sinew, as though its own hanging-on to itself might combat the inevitable force of impact. But it can't. The inertia that would crumple a car is a thousand times stronger than me. If I go limp, there's a chance I might knock around inside disaster with a fraction more fluidity. Gone limp, I might break a little less.

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I love a thesaurus. I love the riddles and confirmations of language.

TO GIVE UP

abandon / forfeit / surrender / free / relinquish / resign / release / part with / forgive / desist

TENSION

stress / hostility / friction / anxiety / nervousness / strife / pressure / conflict / unrest / aggravation / trepidation / strain / resistance / convulsion

TRY

attempt / seek / examine / endeavour / prove / taste / test / sample / practice / aim / intend / push / get / take / give / find / decide / use

GIVING UP

abandon / forfeit / surrender / freedom / relinquish / resign / release / part with / forgive / desist

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Nobody ever says forbearance anymore. The Victorians are long gone. But I needed something less ambivalent than release, more sacred than a shrug. Forbearance, I thought. Is that it?

Delay enforcing rights, claims or privileges; refrain from action; a good-natured tolerance of delay or incompetence.

My right and claim to not ever see or touch a dead son, for a start. See also, under forbearance

Fail. Withhold action. Pause. Abstain. Seek magnanimity, graciousness, prudence, kindness, grace, compassion. Be liberal and lenient with what sometimes simply just is. Diligently practice humility, generosity, fortitude. See the curious latin underpinnings that link mercy and lovingkindness to apathy, which is to waive resistance in favour of forgiveness.

Release.

Sometimes, having held my dead son, I am afraid. I know that anything can happen. I drift into an uneasy sleep as my brain off-gasses visions of deep water, of flailing arms and a small, scruffy head. I can't swim fast enough. I never can.

Shhh

The fear is a thing, a noun, an occupant. It enters my space and knocks everything over, filling my thoughts with crash and catastrophe.

What if what if what if
It happened before

Shhh.

To give up tension, try giving up.

 

Are you more or less afraid, post-loss? How do you carry the sensation?
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Kate

Author, photographer, founder of Glow. Mother of three boys, one of whom died at six weeks old nine years ago. Nine years ago, I was someone else. Love and sorcery and poetry and terrible luck and wonderful luck.