Life is Uncertain

And that uncertainty causes a LOT of stress. Here are the ways I handle that as a Humanist.

One of the things I like about what I do is that I get to know people I otherwise wouldn’t. People who have been moved by my writing contact me and we become virtual friends.  One such friend emailed me to let me know she was having a tough time. Her husband had been battling cancer and was in remission and she was finding that she was more upset about it than he was. She worries about what would happen now if he died.

I can relate. I almost did die this year. And then my hubby came down with a bad infection and went to the emergency room a couple of times. My son has even had a couple of visits. Needless to say, the ER staff at our local hospital knows us now.

What I noticed is that when I was the one in the hospital, I wasn’t worried that much. When my hubby went through his turns in the hospital, I was a nervous wreck. What would I do without him?  The very thought makes me sick to my stomach.

And that physical response to the fear of uncertainty and worry is real.  I am very sure that one of the ER visits my husband had was caused by his worrying. He was so unnerved by what happened to me earlier in the year, it has affected him physically.

The problem with fear of uncertainty is that – while I think it’s totally reasonable to be worried about losing someone you care about. That worry can cause health problems and it can incapacitate you and prevent you from getting on with the business of living.

Here’s how I cope and stop my brain from going into overdrive when I start worrying about the worst happening.  I actually have a lot of practice at this and it works.  My husband used to be a travelling salesman. And I used to worry that he would get in an accident on the road. Every day I would worry about that.

I spent my nights trying not to think of all the ways he could die in a traffic accident on a daily basis.  To stop, I created a plan for what I would do if the worst happens.  Just go there. Don’t fight it. Write up a plan for your finances, and what you are going to do to get everything together and move on eventually if he dies. Once that plan is in place, you don’t have to worry about it anymore.  This may seem morbid – but the realism thing really helped me cope with the stress. I’d given my brain what it needed, some assurance that I will be ok even if I was devastated.

The other thing I’ve learned is that I don’t have to be up and positive all the time. Given what I’ve been through and what most people have been through, if you haven’t earned the right to cry – no one has!   My feeling on grief is that you just need to experience it. It involves pain, and crying. And yes, figuring out how to look to the future even when it is uncertain.  Nothing you can do about that really – except accept it.  Serenity prayer – change the things you can – accept what you can’t. Wisdom to know the difference. You can’t know what is going to happen. So you prepare for the best and the worst and move on with life as best as you can.

How do you deal with uncertainty and the possibility of someone you love dying?

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