After experiencing death so intimately, and feeling all of the fallout of grief, it’s normal to fear losing your loved ones or dying yourself and leaving them to grieve.
In today’s episode we’re getting really candid about this fear and giving you coping skills that will help you not just navigate this fear in your life after loss, but maybe even eliminate it.
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Hello, how are you doing out there? How is your day? I am glad that you are taking the time to take care of your mental health. It is so, so important. And I know your time is precious. I’ve got so many good things to talk to you about today. Let me tell you really quickly before we start. My ebook, should I have another baby after loss is out now you can go to smooth stones, coaching.com forward slash ebook and purchase it there for just $9.
It is a mix of. Information, but mostly worksheets to help you find your own answer. I don’t know what the answer is for you. I don’t know what your future looks like, but I do know that if you’ve been afraid to make this decision, if you’ve felt stuck making this decision, whether you’ve just recently had a loss or it’s been longer, or even if you’ve had a living rainbow baby.
And now you’re wondering, should I chance it again? You’re going to want this. It will guide you through every step of the process. So you can make a decision that you feel amazing about. So go to my website, smooth stones, coaching.com forward slash ebook. Get your copy, tell your friends, buy one for your friends.
, you’re going to love it. And I’m so, so excited about it for you because it answers so many questions that I just see over and over. And it’s just all there. So go get your copy. And the other thing I need to tell you about is I’m going to do another group coming up. This is it. Spring end of winter. Um, in February and March, I am going to do an eight week group coaching program and it is going to be incredible.
The thing about group coaching is you get to see other people and the way their thoughts and their brains are affecting the results they’re getting in their life. When we get coached, it’s really, really powerful. It’s also really powerful to see other people get coached because you are not the one on the hot seat.
You are not the one in the middle of that problem, but you’ll be able to get all kinds of, , insight. When you see other people getting coached and you get to make friends and a baby loss can feel so isolating. This pandemic is so isolating. So come and join with them. For more information on that, go in the show notes, um, go to smooth stones, coaching.com and let’s get you signed up for group coaching.
Let’s talk about today’s topic. I’ve actually been thinking about doing this topic for a long time, because. I see how it’s a problem and I see how it holds people back. And I see how it causes a lot of distress. I think, as we look at, so I’m recording this in January, 2022, we are in the army Cron, variant, um, at the moment, which is very, very contagious, not as deadly, but the sheer numbers are scaring a lot of people.
And I feel like for two years we have been in this. The situation where death is a constant thing that is hanging over us. And there are people that have different thoughts about this pandemic and this virus. And I think the ones who are suffering the most are the ones who are afraid that they are going to die, or the people around them that they care about are going to die.
So there is like the low-level anxiety and exhaustion that we all have, just because of the reaction to the pandemic, like the isolation, the social distance, seeing the constant uncertainty and not knowing, , what’s going to happen next and what the government’s going to do. And what’s the vaccine going to do.
And, , when is this going to end? That’s pretty common with most people. And of course I could always coach on that, but the people who are truly, truly suffering are really the ones who have this fear of death that will not stop. I think it’s another level of distress that is very apparent.
So. It’s just a really good example to me, of how, there are people who are not afraid of COVID and I know a lot of people look down on them, people who want to just live their lives and do not want to do any of the things that the government has suggested. And they’re frustrated. With the reaction, but they’re not afraid of dying.
And it’s just, I think it’s interesting. So I am a people watcher. And so I encourage you to, to just kind of look around, look at your friends, look at your family, look at yourself. What has, has your reaction been and how much of it is this fear of death that has affected? The way you have experienced the last two years, and I’m not saying there’s any right or wrong.
I just think it’s a really good case study for us to pay attention to and notice, and really get some good information. When we’re curious about the different reactions people have to the COVID-19 virus. And if you’re listening to this, , later on and hopefully fingers crossed, this is all over. Then you can say, wow.
Yeah, I can look back and see how people’s fear really, really affected them. Okay. So let’s talk about why we fear death. There is a biological component of this, of course, our body and her brain are designed to keep us alive. Right? That survival instinct is very strong in human beings. It’s strong in most creatures and it’s a part of us.
We have. So many systems in our body to keep us alive. So we naturally fear death because that helps us stay alive, or anything that we interpret as danger. We want to stay away from danger so that we can stay alive and perpetuate the species and, and all of that. And then there is the mental side of it.
The mental side is the things we think about. Like I said, it, it has to do with, you know, our beliefs, the way we were raised, the things we’ve internalized. What we think about the life after this, if there is one, what we think death is like what we think it’s gonna be like, if someone we love dies, there’s a lot of thoughts
, In our head about death.
And then when they are mixed up together, the biological and the mental, meaning your brain is reacting. Like it’s going to die when there’s no actual danger or post traumatic, , situations. Right. We’ve had something happen that has been traumatic. And now our brain is like on high alert and.
Kind of overreacting to things that are not dangerous. Right? The, the really easy answer is a veteran who, you know, hits the dirt when they hear a car backfire. What I want you to know that if you have trauma, if you feel like you’re your mental empire, logical reactions and fears of death, R a problem right now you can heal this.
There are so many ways to get your nervous system to calm down and just like, it can be hurt. It has the ability to heal. And I want you to remember that, especially if you’re right in the middle of it, and you feel like you’re being triggered, left and right. No, that you can heal every time you are thinking like, I’m going, this is so hard and it’s going to be like this forever.
And I don’t know what I’m going to do. I want you to stop and give equal airtime to the thoughts that I can heal this. It’s not always going to be like this. This is going to get better if I put in the work and if I allow for it, and if I find the right thing that works for me, you can hear. All right. So we have this biological part.
I want you to understand that your lower brain and your body have it covered. You got to trust them, trust that all of these things that have been set up to keep the human race alive. They’re doing a great job, right? There are a lot of humans alive right now, and there’s a lot of people having kids and growing old and, and doing all of these things, your brain and your body and , your hormones have it covered in the book.
The gift of fear. , Gavin de Becker talks about fear and , it’s a really interesting book. , it talks a lot about how women tend to dismiss their fear and dismiss their gut. They’re dismissing that biological part of them where their hair stands on end on the back of their neck or , they sent something and they always put it down because they want to be nice or, , they talk themselves out of it.
But. He also talks about this gift of how fear really does protect us. And he said, you have the gift of a brilliant internal guardian that stands ready to warn you of hazards and guide you through risky situations. And why this is so important is because we need to know that when actual danger appears you are going to know what to do.
You are going to do the fight flight or freeze, right? You are, your body is going to take over. I think if you listened to anyone, who’s been through something, , maybe where they’re attacked. And in this book, he has a lot of stories. , but
your body will kick in instantly. It’s amazing what it’s been designed to do. And so you can trust that your body. We’ll take care of you in that situation. And I think that takes a lot of pressure off, right. Especially if you’re one that, , worries a lot about something bad happening to you, or, , I know I used to really get scared at night, like that someone would break into my house or like try to hurt me or my kids, or like, how would I get out of there?
What would I do? And. And I just decided, , I’ll figure it out then it doesn’t help me to sit here awake. , Worrying about that kind of thing. I just, I do the best I can. I’m going to keep my doors locked. , , there’s all these things I can do to keep my home safe. And then I got to trust that if a bad guy comes in, which is super rare, but if it did that, I would know what to do that I would make the best decision and that my brain and my body would protect me.
So that’s what I want for you. I want you to let go of some of these things that are the, the biological fear and trust your body. Like if you get. I think at this point a lot more people have gotten it then than they thought. And they were really, really scared of getting it. And then they got it. And maybe it wasn’t that bad or maybe it was kind of bad, but you dealt with it.
Right. You did it. You had doctors, you had help, you had medicine, you know, you got through it and you’re okay. And even if someone in your family was not okay, you’re dealing with that. We don’t need to spend a ton of time questioning what we would do. We just got to trust that when we get there, we’ll deal with it.
And that, that thought goes along with so many things. I talk a lot about this with my pregnancy after loss clients, . We can come up with all the things that could go wrong, or we can decide on purpose. If something comes up that we need to deal with, we’re going to deal with it at that time. So do that.
I really, really recommend it’s so much more helpful and so much less exhausting. , then really worrying , about these things where you might be in a situation where you needed to fight for your life. All right. Let’s talk about the mental side of it. I want you to be really, really open with yourself.
Death is not a comfortable topic in society, and this is a common complaint of loss parents, but I’m not talking about society here. I’m talking about you. How can you manage your own fear of death when you’re afraid to look at. Right. Even talking about this, like I have zero problems talking about the fear of death because I’ve been around death a lot.
I’ve been around a lot of people who are dealing with death. I have held death in my hands and, and I just have a different perspective about it. So I want to share that with you and I want you to get comfortable with it because. Nothing is as scary when you shine a light on it, right. It doesn’t have to be that, that dark, dark thing in the back of the closet.
You can just pull it out and talk about it. Why am I afraid of dying? Now, a lot of us, we have the fear of other people dying. And this is super common when you’ve been through this you’ve know firsthand how heartbreaking and excruciating it can be when someone you love dies, and you don’t want to experience, you don’t want to experience it.
Let’s talk about why it’s a problem when you’re really focused on other people passing away first,
you are hyper aware of what could happen. I see this a lot. If you’ve got living kids and you’ve lost babies, you are just. All up in their business, try to make sure that nothing bad happens to them. You can be hovering like helicopter parenting, , not letting the people in your life make their own decisions,
this might not be with your kid. It could be your parents, your spouse. , you’re just really, really worried that they’re driving at night or, , they’re going on a trip or whatever it is. It can be the smallest thing that you are really, really afraid that the worst is going to happen to them.
And then when you’re doing this, you feel guilty and like you were failing as a mother, especially if it’s your kids, right. So you’re, you can see yourself doing this and then you feel kind of bad, but you just don’t know how to stop. And that’s what I’m going to tell you today. You are spending a lot of energy worrying about something that hasn’t happened, which keeps you from staying in the present.
, this is really common in so many situations in our life after loss is just for really fixated on bad things happening. And so what we’re doing is taking away from today. We’re not enjoying today. We’re not living today because we are too much in the past or too much in the future. And a lot of times it feels like you’re forced to feel this way because of what happened because your baby died.
You just can’t help it. There’s no other option. Like you’ve experienced loss. You’ve experienced a very intimate loss. And now you’re just afraid of people dying and there’s nothing that you can do about it, but that is not true. I mean, I tell you right now, straight up, that’s not true. Lost parents do not have like the corner market on worrying about people dying and you don’t have to do.
I want to tell you a little bit about my husband. And he has always been in a job that was a little bit dangerous. So when we first were married, he was in the military and I feel like the military trains, the spouses as much as it trains us soldiers. But you have to learn how to deal with a lot of uncertainty and you have to learn how to deal with the fact that they could get called up at any time.
, they could go into war, they could go into other situations like disaster situations and they could potentially die. . We, when you’re in that community, which is a beautiful, community of the military. You know, people who have been through things, you know, what can happen and you have to get used to that and you have to decide that it’s worth it to you.
Right? None of those people are there because they don’t want to either. And they don’t know what the job might entail. And even now my husband also has another job that is. Dangerous that he could potentially die any time. And I had spent a lot of time worrying about and envisioning, you know, those two guys in uniform, coming up to the door to tell you some bad news.
And there have been a lot of times where he was out late and you can’t get ahold of him or, or I don’t know what’s happening, why he would be so late. And so over the years I have changed what I’ve done because I used to just be sick to my stomach and worrying, worrying, and calling and trying to figure out where he’s at.
And I’m thinking the worst had happened, but through time and through learning lots of ways to cope, I have just decided now that. It’s okay. Like I, if he’s late, I just assume he’s helping somebody. He must be helping somebody. , maybe something happened on the way home , and he’s just out there helping somebody.
And, , I know that he’ll get there eventually and I don’t tend to wait up for him. I don’t wait for him to come home for dinner. Like we just live our lives and we move forward. And when he gets there, he gets there. And that is night and day different. I can tell you personally that the amount of anguish, and like I said, just my stomach being in knots from before versus now so much better, it’s so much better.
And of course I’m concerned about him, right? I. I care. I don’t want him to die, but I’m not afraid. I don’t spend my life in fear worrying about him because worry is never useful. I just live my life. And I know that if something happens. I’ll deal with it then. So here’s some tools for you. If you find yourself really worried about other people in your life dying, number one, notice what is happening.
Be aware of your body and the sensations that are going on inside. So that would be the worry. That would be the stomach that would be, you know, maybe even your heart racing and different things. So when you notice that don’t tighten against those feelings, don’t tighten against what’s happening. Just let it be, let it be there and find a thought that helps you process through, like, I feel X, Y, Z in my body, because I’m thinking X, Y, Z, .
This could be your kids up on the tippy top of the playground. And just about to. You know, go down the fireman pole that it just seems so scary. And all of a sudden you tighten up, just notice, take a deep breath and say I’m feeling a little terrified because I’m thinking my child, isn’t going to be able to successfully navigate this playground.
Now, number two, question, the racing thoughts. Are they true? Are they useful? Now it will be really careful with this one because these thoughts seem really useful, right? It seems like I need to run in protect my child. This is dangerous, but really it’s not, you probably don’t have time to get over there before they make their choices.
, and you need to just be super honest and be of jacket. . And this is a point where in this example, like you might need to run over there and save your kid. But for the most part, usually they do fine. You got to let them live their lives and you got to live your life and you got to let them learn and grow and make mistakes and fall down and go through all the things we went through as.
And trust that they’re going to be okay. And the third tip is, is shake it off and move on with your day. So whatever happened, shake it off. Maybe physically like move, do something, and then keep going. Just say, I noticed, I felt that fear. This is why I’m afraid and I’m going to shake it off and I’m going to keep going.
, the goal is not to never feel fear. The goal is to learn how to manage the fear and then let it go. And that’s also true. I think we want a life where we’re never afraid. And that might not happen, right. Again, we have this human brain, it wants to keep us alive. It wants to keep our loved ones alive.
It’s looking for danger all the time. And then we have a lot of thoughts in her head about, what’s happening. So of course we’re going to be afraid sometimes, but it’s okay. If you just ease into the fact that it’s a natural part of life and you be really focused on what am I actually afraid of?
Is it really true? And then you can just let it go float away and, and move out of that, , that reaction. Let’s talk about fear of your own death. Why are you afraid of this? I want you to answer this question, like pause it, write it down. Think about it. Why are you afraid of dying? And what are your beliefs about what happens after this life that might factor into it, right?
, if you think you’re going to be burning in hell, if you think, , all these, just these negative things that might happen after this life that might feed into why your first.
Now, if you don’t know, or you aren’t sure about what happens after this life, , I want you to know that you can make up something that you like. So none of us absolutely know this, for sure. So it’s all on faith anyway. So whatever your vision for the afterlife is, You really get to make it up, even if you’re super strong in a certain religion or whatever, it’s still faith.
Cause none of us have done it. And none of us have been there and came back to tell the tale now, except let’s talk a little bit about near death experience books. Now I’m going to ask you, have you read any of these? I read a few. I know there are a lot. I know some people get really into them. I read a few of them.
And it was really, really interesting because what most people say is it was kind of awesome in that afterlife area. Right. And that it was beautiful and warm and there’s people there that they loved and they kind of didn’t want to come back. Right. I don’t remember any of the stories I’ve read where people were like, I hated it.
And I was terrified. No, they felt amazing. And. And they chose to come back, but not because it wasn’t amazing there, but just for whatever reason, or they were told they couldn’t stay and that they needed to come back. And so really they would have liked stayed there and been happy, but they came back to earth and have shared their story.
So I want to share my own sort of near death experience. , it’s not. Traditional, I guess, but after I had a, my DNC with river, I did lose an incredible amount of blood and was taken to the hospital. , so I was in like the surgery center got wheeled into the hospital, long story short. I did not have enough blood to have any blood pressure.
So I had no blood pressure. They couldn’t get ahold of my doctor. And so. I was sitting there with no blood pressure. , there were a lot of alarms going off. There were a lot of doctors in my room and I remember my husband just telling me, keep your eyes open, keep your eyes open, keep your eyes open. And I remember just feeling really, really tired and just wanting to close my eyes, which is why he kept telling me to open them.
, he was very, very concerned. So I don’t take this lightly that I think that’s probably one of the hardest. Times in his life. But, , for me, I just felt tired. Like I just was like, I could go to sleep. I wasn’t afraid. , even though, like I said, it was a little bit crazy having this like wall of doctors in there, like trying to figure out what to do, how to help me, but I just remember feeling a lot of calm and a lot of peace.
, I’m still here. I’m good. They got me what I needed, but I always think back to that and how, like, it was not scary for me. It was scary for everyone watching, but it was not scary for me. , and I think that my beliefs play into this. And at some point I’m going to do an episode actually, maybe next week, we’re going to do an episode about my beliefs.
I believe that there is a beautiful life after this and that we get to see our loved ones. And it’s good. I believe that people who die are way happier than we are here, right? We’re the ones who are suffering. We’re the ones who are grieving. , we are missing people and I was reading a story on Instagram of a mom and how she had.
She had been really, really afraid of death. Her and her husband had talked about how afraid they were of dying. And then she, she, they were talking and realized that like, now they have someone to meet them there. Now they have someone there, baby, that will be with them if they go onto the other side. And so that’s kind of something they can look forward to.
So I think your belief. Are really going to affect how you feel about your own death. And so if you want to find peace, if your beliefs that you have now are not bringing you peace. I want you to really look at that and explore that. And it doesn’t have to be a big like spiritual rediscovery journey thing, but just really think, what do I think happens and how is it affecting me?
Now the other side of us passing away is our fear of leaving people behind. And what really can help you with this is understanding the people you leave behind if this happens, which again, we’re not going to get ahead of ourselves, but they’re going to handle it. Yes, it will be hard. They will be sad.
They will grieve, but they’re going to be okay. . And maybe more than okay. I have a friend who lost her mom as a teenager. And she’s now a coach for other young adults who have been through this. I have another friend, Rachel from three and 30, if you haven’t listened to her podcast is so good, but her mom battled breast cancer for a really long time, most of her childhood and ended up passing away and she left such a legacy and built so much empathy into Rachel and.
And it’s hard. Of course she misses her mom all the time, every day. , but she’s doing great. And even if, as I was looking at these examples, it’s not always roses, it’s going to be tough and people might be a mess and they might end up like addicted to drugs and not handling their grief very well and all of these things, but you know what, that’s their life.
As hard as it is. That’s what it was supposed to be. It was supposed to be like that. If that happens and just easing into your, your loved ones are gonna have the life they’re supposed to. And if that means they lose you at some point, That’s okay. It really is our job isn’t to live forever. So the people who love us never have to feel pain.
Our job is to be the favorite version of ourselves in the time that we have. So live your life fully and love with your whole heart. With reckless abandon. Yes, you will get hurt, but there’s no downside to embracing everything that this life has in store for us. I believe that you can’t die one second sooner than you are supposed to.
And neither can the people in your life. We can’t know when that time will come or how it will come. And there is so much power in releasing the need to control that. I promise you, you guys, I can tell you, I, I’m not a better than anyone, but I can tell you that I have spent a lot of time. With this subject.
I have parents who have both had heart conditions most of my life. , I always know that at any point they, something could happen. , like I said, I have a husband who has had quite dangerous careers that I’ve had to learn how to live with the fear of death and even having lost my children and having been through that.
, I know that it affects me. I know that. I’m going to worry a little bit more when my son has to be put under anesthesia for some dental work, I can feel that, and I know where it’s coming from. And so I have power over it and you can have power over this fear of death. It’s not a given, it’s not a life sentence.
You don’t have to live your life in fear. The whole reason I have this podcast is to show you that you have every option available to you. Your life after loss can be incredible. It can be more than you ever dreamed of. Grief is a part of it. It’s not everything there’s so much good in store for. And it’ll be so much easier if you learn how to manage the thoughts and feelings that are coming up about your own death and the death of people around you.
It’s so freeing to just say it’s okay. Not that we don’t care. Not that we don’t know that it’s going to be hard. Not that we want to leave our family behind, but just leaning into finding peace around it. Whatever higher power you believe. Trust them trust the universe. What would be different if you stopped being afraid of death in a really started living?
I’ll see you next.