an irrational fear of death

an irrational fear of dying{photo source}

It’s 7.00am on Friday morning and it’s too early to be out of bed. In the past, I would have finished an hour in the gym by now, but these days I’d rather stay in bed and enjoy waking up with my boyfriend.

I’m up early because Duckfish has a 7.30am appointment for minor surgery. For the past couple of weeks he’s had blocked ears and can’t hear so they’re putting him under to drain his ears and insert grommets. It’s called a Myringotomy.

I’m worried beyond what is rational. I’m frightened he’s going to die under the anaesthesia.

Before my husband died, I spent my life ignoring the fact that people die. Somehow, death was always a long way off, scheduled for years in the future when, at the end of a full life, it would be almost a relief. I imagined by the time death started intruding in my life, I would be ready for it.

I wasn’t ready for death to smash into my life leaving a path of pain and destruction in its wake as early as 2010. Now I worry that anyone I know could die at any time. And the person I worry about most is Duckfish.

Sometimes I lie in bed at night and listen to him breathe in his sleep. When I can hear his in-breath and his out-breath, I know he’s still alive. If I wake in the middle of the night and all is quiet, I lean over and put my hand on his chest to make sure his heart is still beating.

Anxiety is an ugly companion. It robs you of joy in the present moment because you spend all your energy worrying about the future instead of being present. I try all the exercises but nothing seems to help. Instead, I drink my tea and wish it was sometime later today when Duckfish is back home and death is avoided for another day.

It’s the downside of love. When you love someone you want them to stay safe, you want them in your life for a long time, and you don’t want to imagine a world without them in it.

So for now I’ll just wait, praying to Buddha, the Universe and the baby Jesus to keep my beloved unharmed for one more day.


Later  … he’s home in one piece and everything went well. I’m so grateful.


About KatieP

Embracing my midlife sexy while exploring modern love & relationships • Devoted to all things beautiful • Master of Arts in creative writing & non-fiction writing

8 thoughts on “an irrational fear of death

  1. Dear Katie,
    Your post brought tears to my eyes. I know anxiety all too well.
    You and your man will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  2. I have that a lot. I think it’s natural when things are good, to fear that it could all go away. It’s a bittersweet thing, having experienced loss in the past, I think I’ll always have that shadow. But, maybe that just makes me appreciate even more what I do have now.

    I try to rationalise: yes, it could all disappear. Jase could die suddenly or become ill, my business could tank, I could lose my properties, the economy could really collapse, I could lose everything. But equally, we could live to 90+, and from here on, things could just get better and better, forever and ever amen.

  3. You know Katie, sometimes, I intentionally put myself in this state, feeling as if I’ve lost a loved one to see how’d I’d feel and react. It’s an exercise in humility, peace, and comfort – at least that’s what I would be trying to attain quickly if something did happen.

    I feel you about trying to do everything you can to release the worry and fear and sometimes, you just have to busy yourself with something else until it passes.

    I’m right there with you girl. The joy of the present is one of the best places we can be!


  4. I actually had to have the procedure done when I was a little girl! I didn’t even think it was that big of a deal hah, guess I didn’t know all the details back then, I was probably only about 6. My father has been seriously ill since before I was born and as I grew older, I became more aware of the fact that, were it not for modern medicine, he would be have died a long time ago. He’s also an avid napper and heavy sleeper, and on more than one occasion I could neither see or hear him breathing and nearly freaked out until I managed to pull him from his groggy rest. I think sometimes about how easily lives can be lost, that death can happen at any moment, but rather than fearing it, being aware of that has given me a new outlook on things. I feel awe and wonder at simple things and take the time to really experience all the small and big things, as if it were perhaps my last chance to do so. While that may seem a bit dark, it’s also helping me stay grounded in the present, and to be aware of how great that present is. I can close my eyes and remember every sound, smell, and touch from periods in my life that I chose to intensely experience and remember, and I can do that more and more now because I want to be able to cherish things lest I never again have the chance. I think I’m rambling now but… anyway, if you ever find yourself fearing, just try to focus on something small and delightful, and notice the little things, be present. Flowers are great for that I find, just being amazed at plant life, their growth, the colours, the tiny little details in the petals… We can fear death, or we can be thankful that we are here now to experience these little things, regardless of whether or not death is on our doorstep or decades away.

    1. Thanks Celynne — facing death head on does move us into a place of gratitude for every moment and every small thing. Thank you.

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