Megan, age 21 and an only child, returned from burying her parents in a double funeral. They had been killed when her father's small plane went down in turbulent weather. She felt devastated. No! Worse than that! Words were not adequate to describe her feelings. Her insides felt like they'd been hashed through a meat grinder. She could hardly breathe.
She still had their house—her childhood home—to clean out, and the estate to settle. No time for that now. She had to return to her new job tomorrow. She'd only worked there six weeks—since college graduation a couple of months ago.
What was she going to do?
How would she handle life?
She had always relied on her parents for advice.
Now she faced the unknown world alone.
This sweet client of mine faced a bleak situation. Tougher than most of us will have to confront.
Megan went to work the next day, and each day thereafter. But she seemed to wilt during this period of intense grief, locking emotional self away during her job and daylight hours, and falling apart in grief after dark.
Megan felt frozen with fear. She just knew she would never be able to live a normal, healthy life.
During each therapy session, she cried out her sadness. On her own she journaled, wrote good-bye letters to her parents, and talked with uncles, aunts, and cousins for long hours on the phone.
She was determined to overcome her fear of never having a normal life. She had no idea what her future held. It was all an unknown.
I pointed out to her that she was already defeating her fear. She didn't believe me until we looked at the proactive things she had accomplished.
1. Continued to function at work.
2. Confronted her grief in therapy.
3. Wrote letters to her parents.
4. Talked with family members.
Slowly she began to connect with those around her. Her boss gave her a commendation for friendly service. She had attended her church meetings all along, but now she began to go to the socials for single adults and teach a children's Sunday school class.
One of her aunts suggested the two of them return to her parents home to make some decisions about cleaning out the house.
That was a difficult weekend for Megan and sent her back into the despondent nights she had experienced before.
Debilitating fear enveloped Megan again. She was sure she would never get out of her negative situation.
We listed the latest things she had accomplished.
1. Befriended others at work.
2. Socialized at church.
3. Served young children.
She argued that she fell back into a slump after seeing her parents' home again. She was afraid she would never get out. I pointed out that she didn't remain 'down' nearly as long as she had before.
Confronting and working through fears is not an 'event.' It is a process—sometimes a life-long process.
Megan continued to rejoin life. Tiny steps at first—until she found a good friend and then a group of friends. She began to date and, several years later, is now happily married with children of her own.
Does she still fall into grief at times when she thinks of the loss of her parents? Yes. But she knows the way out. She can experience her sadness and then reclaim her life.
What are your fears?
Are you in the process of meeting them head on?
Or are you allowing them to control your life?
Begin today to face
1. Find a friend, a mentor, or a therapist and discuss your problem.
2. Set a long-term goal.
3. Set some short-term goals to help you meet your long-term goal.
4. Notice your progress.
5. Change your vision of yourself. See yourself free of your burden.
6. Have your mentor help your look at the steps you have taken toward releasing your fear.
7. Get outside yourself to love others.