What If? The Question of Fear

I have had a few concerned parents ask to know the details of Jane’s death out of what I believe is fear or anxiety. We live in a society where we so badly want control. We want to know that if we do the right things and/or avoid the wrong things we can ensure our children’s, our spouse or our own safety. To these people, the details of Jane’s death are incredibly uncomfortable and anxiety inducing. To these people there is suddenly a palpable fear and discomfort surrounding the Bible verse, that says “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:16)

We should never expect or ask someone to share what is painful in order to alleviate our own anxiety.

I will be the first person to say that I fall somewhere in between being a helicopter mom and a free range parent. I believe in caution and wisdom. I understand that God has entrusted the care of my children to me. It is my responsibility to advocate for my children, instruct my children and protect them when I am able. Bringing awareness to safety is important and I am so grateful for those that are willing to share their own pain in order to help prevent tragedy for others. However, I should never expect or ask someone to share what’s likely painful in order to alleviate my own anxiety.                               

That being said, self preservation and the need for a sense of security are so ingrained in our being that we will convince ourselves that we are immune to suffering. Have you ever heard of a tragic drowning and thought, “I’m so glad my child knows how to swim” or “I’m going to enroll my child in an infant survivor swim course immediately!” or worst of all, “I would never let my child near a pool without watching them” Thoughts like that, at best, assume we have too much control over our life and at worst are horribly condescending. Sometimes we want to know all the details of an event so that we can convince ourselves that we won’t be affected in the same way. This is neither edifying or helpful to those hurting.

It’s not my intention to be harsh. I sincerely hope I have never answered anyone with a critical or hurtful response. I have spent the last thirteen months praying for a supernatural grace to show others. I have also prayed that people would show our family grace. My hope today is to shed light on something that many grieving families experience. Often times while trying to alleviate your own worry or fear, you heap extra anxiety and strain on the person who is already hurting. In the midst of loss, any loss, I believe one of the most common lies of the enemy is guilt and doubt. Believe me, everyone who has experienced loss has cycled through all the “what if” questions. We certainly don’t need to hear them from anyone else, whether good intentioned or not.

Often times while trying to alleviate your own worry or fest, you heap extra anxiety and strain on the person who is already hurting.

So much of our natural fear and anxiety are due to our lack of control. Knowing the details of someone’s death likely won’t diminish your own fear, though it might give you a false sense of security.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Matthew 6:25-27

Knowing the details of someone’s death likely won’t diminish your own fear, though it might give you a false sense of security.

The Lord has ordained our days (Psalm 139:16). Who are we to think that we can add one single hour to this life. My constant attention, prayer and planning did not add a single hour to Jane’s life. Her days were ordained by God Almighty. In some ways this truth could be the cause of anxiety and fear. I could live my life holed up in my home and put my surviving children in a metaphorical bubble, but even that would not add hours to our ordained days.

Let me encourage you dear friend. Be cautious, be wise and stay vigilant. But do it all with your eyes fixed firmly on Jesus and clinging to the Word of God. We are meant to fulfill Christ’s purpose for our life, which is not comfort and ease. We are meant to bring Him honor and glory, no matter the current or future circumstance.

Note: I do not expect people to walk on egg shells around me. While things might be said by others to potentially cause hurt, it would be unrealistic for others to know and avoid all such possible conversations and topics. That being said, the above post is speaking specifically to direct questions of my loss (and perhaps relevant to the loss of others). Ultimately, be kind, think before you speak and show abundant grace. When in doubt, you can always just sincerely say, “I’m so sorry for your loss.”

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