Posts Tagged ‘uncertainty’

Biggest fear.
(Photo courtesy of Christopher Matson )

At some point or another some form of fear is present in everyone’s life. We all have fears, some rational and some irrational.

Some people suffer from extreme phobias while others are almost never afraid. Some people have one specific fear that follows them throughout their life. Others have changing or alternating fears.

One thing is for certain. If you suffer from a certain fear, ignoring it won’t make it go away. You may be able to repress it for a while, but unless you confront your fear and deal with it, it will, without a doubt resurface. It may even resurface with a vengeance and be more debilitating.

I definitely don’t have all the answers but I do believe that the type of fear you suffer from and how you cope with it can help you gain a lot of insight about yourself. It is hard, but in order to learn something important about ourselves we have to learn how to get past the discomfort of thinking and dealing with the things we dread the most.

I have had quite a few fears over the years. The ones that I can say have truly been the most traumatic are the fear of death and the fear of dogs. Being afraid of dogs sounds a bit insignificant compared to a fear of death. (That is unless they are one and the same and you are afraid of meeting your death by a dog, which is not my case.) Yet before I learned to cope and deal with them, when I suffered from these fears they were both equally overpowering.

Warning Signs on the Road ahead!
(Photo courtesy of Thunderchild )

My fear of dogs used to be one accompanied by sheer terror. Maybe this fear of dogs stemmed from my mother abandoning me in my carriage as a baby to flee a dog herself. Or maybe it was just a behaviour I absorbed and learned from her own fear. Either way my reaction when faced with a dog was to run away and if I am honest to scream quite a bit too.

When I was in high school the school bus used to drop me off at the corner of my block. My house was not far from the stop, only four houses down. One evening as I was walking the “long” walk home from the corner in the dark I hear the jangle of a dog’s collar. I walked faster and the jangling got faster. I was petrified.

I got to the door of my house and started banging on the door like a madman. My mother seemed to be taking her time and in my panic I started knocking on one of the green glass panes next to the door.
Well I was so scared that my fist went right through the window and shattered glass flew everywhere. I finally got into the house and when I had calmed down, I realized that the jangling dog’s collar was in reality the zipper from my backpack. Pathetic!

Fast forward twenty years. The once broken window by the front door of my parents’ house still has a different colored glass and my older daughter has inherited (or learned) my fear of dogs. It was only when I realized and internalized that my own behavior was a big contributing factor in my daughter’s fear of dogs that I was able to will myself into dealing with it.

It has also helped that my brother in law has almost always had a dog and was devoted in his attempts to get us used to dogs. I can proudly say that both my daughter and I are dramatically improved. We are both able to be in the same room with dogs and not freak out. We are even able to pet dogs occasionally. All it took was really looking at why we were afraid, acknowledging it and just jumping in, being exposed to our source of the fear and trying to change the behavior. It was not overnight but it has changed.

death as type
(Photo courtesy of Gabi Agu )

My fear of death on the other hand has been a slower journey and like most people with this fear, I am not sure I will ever be 100% cured. It has been a journey spanning decades and one that has been spent searching for answers. It has involved learning about myself, about death about religion and about life. It has taken me to explore things in a way very different to the way I grew up. It has pushed me many times out of my comfort zone in order for me to explore new thoughts, ideas and ways of viewing things.

I find it very interesting that it seems that when I have a topic in my head that I am thinking or writing about, invariably another friend of mine will mention the same topic. I had written most of this post yesterday and when I logged on today, I noticed that two of my blogging friends have written posts today about death. (See Heather’s Post and Vicki’s Post) Obviously death and fear of death is not something I am facing alone.

I think part of my problem is that I am person who likes to be in control. (That sounds much better than calling myself a controlling person.) My world has always been tainted by a perception of the world as being black or white. I need to be certain of things. I need to know with certainty how things work and how they run.

It is kind of hard to be certain about what happens after death. Sure there have been many tales of near death or clinical death experiences and peoples’ tales of what they saw. I find them very enlightening, but God hasn’t told me yet for sure that those stories are true. So I can’t be sure they are correct.

Being a religious and believing person does help somewhat because I am sure there is an afterlife. On the other hand, I am sure that some of what I learned growing up about heaven and hell is at least partially responsible for my fear of death. Although I am sure there is an afterlife, as a person who likes to be in control and sure of her facts, that is still a bit vague for me.

Years ago there were times that my fear of death would “pop up” and cause me tremendous anxiety even to the point of insomnia and anxiety attacks. Thank goodness I have never really experienced a terrible panic attack, but I was close enough to know that it must be terrifying.

I have also come to realize that as I had kids and in a way had more to lose from dying, my fear got worse. The more you learn to love and accept love from those around you, it is harder to think about leaving them for something that is really an uncertainty.

I remember years ago the day my husband an I drew up our will (which by the way is something every parent should have). I have to say that it was one of the worst days of my life. I was meeting my husband by the lawyer’s office and the whole drive over there I was blubbering like a little baby. The crying and the emotions bought to the surface my own fears about my mortality. And of course death and what happens after death.

For me personally I have been helped by reading many books, consulting with a few Rabbis, talking about death and yes even speaking to mediums about it. Some of my greatest calm and understanding and even partial acceptance of death and the unknown has been born from this process.

As a nurse I have been present at many deaths. Years ago it was something that left me deeply saddened and uncomfortable, even when it was a person who had lived a long life. As the years have passed I started believing that there were times when people who were dying were waiting for my shift for a reason. Kind of a hard thing to explain, but there were quite a few deaths where I was sure that I was there for a reason. Whether it was for the family or for the patient himself. I am one of the few ER nurses who talks to patients who are unconscious and not “with it”. I sometimes get laughed at about it, sometimes praised for it. Either way, I believe the person’s soul can hear me and I aim to treat everyone with respect.

The more comfortable I have grown with acknowledging and accepting my fear of death, the easier it has been for me to accept death in general. Of course I am saddened and I cry and I miss people and feel their void in my life. That is a given. However along with that I am beginning to also come to peace with the fact that death is not the end and in the scheme of things it may only be a very small part of our total existence.

The thing to me that is most important is to acknowledge your feelings and your fears, whatever they may be. Don’t keep them to yourself. Discuss them with people you trust. Learn all you can about your fears and ways to deal with them and control them so that they don’t take over your life. By delving into your fears you are really just learning more about yourself.

So what fears trouble you or debilitate you the most and how have you dealt with them?

Read Full Post »