I have come to realize that fear is one of the great forces at work in all of us; principally, the fear of loss. Whether its a position of power or prestige, wealth, a life of comfort or luxury, divorce, estrangement from a loved one, job loss or death, the ultimate loss, we all seem to suffer from the anxiety and stress that our fear of loss instills. It is certainly one of the primary motivators in humanity.
So what does that have to do with Tony "finding his voice", one might ask? To me, the two phenomena, both results of my own journey, are inextricably related. In facing my Dad's mortality so intimately, so forthrightly, I have unlocked a power in my own life that could help others and I am compelled to share.
When someone close to us is dying, our natural response is to deny, deny, deny! After all, how could a man who had been present in every moment of my 52 years of life suddenly not be? It just seemed/seems so impossible. But, not only is it possible, it is guaranteed!
Rather than to pretend that Dad's death wasn't coming, I forced my self to think, "soon he will be gone. What can I do TODAY that will ease his departure, help HIM to come to grips with what must be even more terrible than it is to me?" I admit that, in the beginning, it was horrible, gut-wrenching. It felt as though I was WISHING him dead, expediting his demise. But it became easier as we progressed down the 3-year road from diagnosis to death.
By encouraging Dad to face the ultimate transition that we all MUST face, I think it helped both of us, and likely those around us, to cope. By facing the ultimate fear head-on, we may not conquer it but we put it in its proper place: death is the NORMAL by-product of life. By doing so, by removing it from the forefront of every exchange, every moment together, we allow all the good, soothing things that are in the background to come forward: frankness, denouement, relief, acceptance, and, most of all, LOVE.
For how can you love someone and not want to do all in your power to help them face their fear of loss in any way possible?
I encourage you to face your fears honestly, frankly, head-on. Discuss them with those close to you in a way that eases your own mind, and theirs, as a consequence. Avoid those who amplify your fears and don't seek to help you find calm. Ratchet down the self-imposed stress and anxiety with your own force of will. Focus on the things in life that you can control and bring you happiness. You have the proper tools to control this one debilitating aspect of life...
Just do it!
I can only speak from my own experience. But that experience has been life-altering! I still have the same fears as I did before. I just see them and treat them differently. What I can conquer, I conquer. What I can't, I can't. But the self-defeating side-effects of fear, I have put into their proper place by facing them head on.
One of our MANY great leaders put it succinctly in a turn of phrase that has come to seem trite but is as true in my life as it ever has been in any other:
"We have nothing to fear but fear itself."
As for finding my voice, I don't know how long it will last (I'm frankly surprised that it's gone on this long). But I suppose it will go on until I'm done! Some people cry in their grief. Others lash out or retreat into themselves. I write.
I am grateful to have found a medium and an audience where my voice is heard. Thank you.
Fear is always the enemy!