Default Setting: Danger

 In Grief

Default blog storyI have observed that when one endures a significant loss and the accompanying sensation of grief, all ensuing life experiences tend to be exaggerated.

Since my husband’s accident and his subsequent death, my reaction to everyday events has changed. It is almost as if the needle on my worry meter is more sensitive and it is prone to wild erratic spins. Sometimes I resort to my familiar childbearing Lamaze breathing techniques to stabilize my thoughts and to remind myself to relax and to focus on my “whispers”.

When something bad happens to us, it is a natural reaction to wonder, “When it will happen again?” Being introduced to the powerful feelings of fear, grief, and danger opens up a new chapter in our reality and it can be consuming.

Even after the passage of twenty years, whenever I hear an ambulance wail in the distance, my heart skips a beat. A phone call after 10:00 at night puts me on alert and my armpits get moist.  The obnoxious odors in hospitals irritate my nose and transport me back to the scene of our final goodbye.

But on the flip side, my appreciation of life has been greatly magnified as a result of my grief journey. Its everyday beauty and my newfound insight into its fragile existence make me feel more alive.  I stop to appreciate the vibrant colors of nature and stare at the full moon in awe wondering how man was able to walk on its surface. I hold on tightly to the fleshy, small hands of my grandchildren when we walk. I look into the deep set eyes of my elderly parents when they speak, focusing on their words and their voices that someday will only be in my mind.

Today I dismissed the dry leaves on the front lawn. Instead I laughed with my sisters on the phone like we did when we were silly teenagers. Perhaps tonight a stiff wind will toss the crumbled vegetation onto the roadway validating my choice.

I am not foolish enough to think that there will not be anymore darkness in my life. I know it will come. But when it does, I will continue to work to remind myself to redirect the light of my current life onto its encroaching shadow and to take a moment to listen to my inner voice.

I work hard at living well. Some days it is my fulltime job.  My inevitable aging has softened life’s borders. Wisdom has modestly crept in and fortifies my spirit. I embrace the years and invite them to be my friends.

“Life grants nothing to us mortals without hard work. (Horace)

So while I know that I may be tempted to worry and feel apprehension when I am alerted to a possible misfortune, I will continue to monitor my reactions and if need be, adjust my default setting and point it in the direction of hope and love where it belongs.

You’ve already rented the space my friends, so live life well!




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  • Carol Sue Hodge Piros

    Kim, appreciated this writing as I too need to be reminded to “breathe deep” and relax as everything is unfolding exactly as it should! Worry is second nature to me and I know it accomplishes nothing but robbing me of the present. Why this is such a hard lesson for me to learn this time round I do not understand but I am trying to “get it”. Thanks again. Carol

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