Fear isn’t always something we always talk about with widowhood. Losing Tony to suicide has put an undercurrent of fear beneath all of us who held him dear. This isn’t to say that we live our lives in constant fear, but it creeps out faster for us.
When I call my mom at a weird time, it sets her on immediate alert. I know when she answers that I need to begin the call with a statement of some kind indicating that everything is fine. You know that text you send sometimes that says, ‘call me when you have a chance,’ we include an extra line about it not being urgent. Otherwise, minds will reel.
I’ve witnessed it with my kids too. They are immediately worried anytime I tell them we need to talk. They still remember that feeling when I had to sit them all down and tell them their dad had died. I watch their small faces contort with worry about what bad news I might be delivering. When I want to share news with them all together, I have to assure them what kind of news it is. When a friend was diagnosed with cancer, I prefaced it with, it’s not great but it’s no one has died. If I’m telling them about a trip I’m planning, I let them know it’s good news. Other times, I just need to share information with them that is neither good nor bad but requires us to all be listening.
In myself, I feel it with worry about my kids. As they enter and get closer to those teenage years, I worry immensely about their mental health.
My son got braces last week, and those first few days were filled with turmoil. He was in pain and doesn’t yet have the frontal lobe to understand why his dental health is so important. As his only surviving parent, I was the sounding board of his frustration at this torture device. I had to leave him that evening home alone while I ran the other boys to soccer tryouts. When I came home, I had a moment where an undercurrent of worry rose within me. What if he is so upset about his braces, he’s decided to end his life? That is my trauma speaking, not his.
We all carry some form of PTSD from losing Tony to suicide. In my life, we all share some form of fear. That may ebb and flow over the years and as we grow around our grief. We come up with whatever tools work for us to handle it. I don’t think the fear will ever go away completely but we’re doing our best to know what provokes us and be mindful with our interactions and thoughts.