The Fear of Feeling Okay

A little more than a year ago, in the weeks and months just after my mom died, I remember feeling desperately afraid. Not of death, not of never coming out of the darkness, but of someday feeling fine. I was scared to feel normal again.

I’ve read that grief is an extreme form of separation anxiety and I buy it. Our dog had separation anxiety and when we left the house he would freak-the-eff out. He broke dishes, he peed, he threw his body against the door. He lost all sense of reality, all he could see was our absence. That’s grief. The world has become a place you’re not sure you can be okay in anymore and the loss of that security is devastating.

Which brings at first a constant ache. That ache was the strongest tie I had to her. It was painful, but it was real and almost tangible. It was the closest I could get to being with her. I couldn’t smell her anymore, but I almost could. I could almost hear her, almost feel her hands stroke my hair, almost see her face – resting, not just smiling like in all the photos. My longing was almost enough to bring her back.

So I was terrified of losing it. Terrified that when the inevitable equilibrium came – the imminent normalization everyone spoke of – I would lose more of her. I would lose what little I had left. Kind people would tell me that it wouldn’t always hurt so bad and I would smile to thank them, but recoil inside. No! Please don’t take more of her… 

So I took a lot of comfort in people who admitted quietly, when they could tell I needed to hear it, that they still ached, that some days they still felt disoriented and that the longing still overwhelmed them sometimes. It’s not the thing we volunteer – the pain. We don’t want to burden people, we don’t want to be annoying so we sweep it away around Them and manage it in our bedrooms behind smut TV or extra glasses of wine. But sometimes we get brave or we are around brave people and we can admit to the universal secret: that we are not whole without the people who make us so.


Krysann Joye
A fundamentalist turned freedom chaser, Krysann writes about faith, motherhood, grief, and love with a desire to see people let off their hooks. She is a minivan driver to three little ones and would take coffee in an IV if it were socially acceptable. You can connect with her via InstagramFacebook, and at KrysannJoye.com.

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