Losing someone we love is one of the most difficult things people can experience. The impact of the loss changes everything and mostly brings us to a standstill. We become vulnerable, realising how everything can change in a heartbeat. Every person’s grief is individual and follows its own path. The extent of our grief often reflects the depth and complexity of the relationship.
Along the way we experience anxiety. It is the fear of something, real or imagined, or a feeling of dread or foreboding. Our bodies react to our fear-based thoughts causing us to feel anxious. The thoughts are not based on what is happening now – in fact they may never happen. Our emotional pain creates a fear-based thought or memory leading to the physical reaction of anxiety.
Our bodies are made primarily for survival. When we have fearful thoughts, the body braces itself to take action to avoid the expected to happen. We get into the fight or flight mode, ready to fight off the threat or take flight to safety. When we have lost a loved one, we face many fears.
The first step in dealing with anxiety is to know that it is a normal part of the grieving process. We need to understand the symptoms of anxiety that includes irregular heartbeat, dizziness and light-headedness, shortness of breath, choking sensations and nausea, shaking and sweating, fatigue and weakness, chest pain and heartburn, muscle spasms, hot flashes, and sudden chills, tingling sensations in your extremities, a fear that you are going crazy, a fear that you might die or that you are seriously ill.
You don’t have to struggle with anxiety in silence. We make sense of our world, experiences, and emotions through language, using words to express ourselves, our sadness, and our joy. We build our stories and share them with others and so we become part of each other’s worlds.
Bidwell Smith, C: Anxiety, the Missing Stage of Grief. Hatchett, New York.