Friday, May 1, 2015

Fear of Parenting After Loss

I've seen a lot of article and blog titles referring to the "after" of stillbirth: Parenting After Loss.  Pregnancy After Loss.  I have a new one: Fear of Parenting After Loss.  Losing Quinn showed me the fragility of life and I live in fear of impending tragedy.  Since Quinn died, I have become burdened by the catastrophic possibilities for the future.  In particular, I live in fear that something will happen to R.  Remember the days when I could just live life and enjoy it?  The days when I could enthusiastically and freely share the joys of life with R, liberated from the fears of what could be?

Instead, every joy is met with a consuming fear.  Give me any situation and I'll show you how.  Grilling in the backyard?  Something will go wrong with the gas and cause a fire or R will get too close and be in harm's way.  Going down the slide? R's leg will get caught and snap.  Riding in the car?  We will get into an accident and R will be severely injured.  Or worse.  That [fill in the blank with medical symptom]?  We are going to be blindsided by a terrible medical diagnosis for R.  Or us.  These fears of parenting after loss prohibit me from living and enjoying my life - and more importantly - letting R live and enjoy her life. 

Living in the grieving mind is exhausting and scary.  For me, I know these thoughts are irrational but I don't know how to stop them.  Finally, after reading an article, I feel less like a crazy person (see below).  The article highlights the anxiety that commonly affects woman after the loss of a baby.  I am so happy that I am not alone in this and that many other women feel the need to [over] protect their children after loss.

I identified so much with the woman who rides in the backseat of the car with her son and the other that insists on sleeping in her son's room.  I get it.  I'm the same way.  I am fearful that the nights will bring harm to my daughter so I sleep with the monitor on an excruciating volume.  I can't even daydream about vacation because I am too fearful of the car or plane ride to get there.  I think about skipping R's swim class because I don't want to risk getting on the highway.  We recently took a five hour trip to Pittsburgh, PA for a funeral - under one condition - that we take Josh's big gas guzzling truck instead of my fuel efficient sedan because I thought it was safer.  

The struggle, however, is that my need to [over] "protect" R is actually hurting her instead of helping her.  She needs to see family who are far away and be exposed to activities and trips.  After loss, we have a false sense that we can control the world that we live in.  The reality is, we can't.  We need to relearn how to live in a world that we can't control and be OK with the unknown future.  How do we grieving parents manage the fears of parenting after loss?  I think by living in the present.  By seeing beauty, feeling love, and experiencing joy for those who can’t.

Living in the present.  This is my mission.  
Live the moment

The article I reference above is:

Managing parenting Anxiety after loss
Managing Parenting Anxiety After Loss | Seleni Institute


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