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Grief's Fear Factor

Getting out in nature is good for your soul, mind and body. It's one of the pleasures I enjoy in Sedona last 10 years: hiking daily on different red dirt trails.

"Zoe The Black Coyote" was my loyal hiking partner and "wild animal guide" since we first arrived in Sedona March 2009. Now I hike without her. And it's not the same. The joyful feeling of new adventures and freedom gone, like a balloon popped and its air released; never to be filled again.

Grief does that. No matter who you lose, no matter how you lose them - when you love someone and they leave (by death, divorce, physical separation), it feels like one of your life balloons popped and you cannot refill it again. Especially if you're very close to that person.

While hiking alone now, I also feel more fearful. Zoe was the "wild animal" scout/guide. She walked ahead, scouting for snake, coyote, bear or mountain lion "nests" then retracing her steps to show the best path without wild animal intrusions. She loved that job. Border Collies love to work and be useful.

Fear reduces my hiking time lately. From 1-2 hours to about 30 minutes now. But it's not really fear of wild animals. It's grief-induced fear. I felt this very same way when my brother and sister were killed 30 years ago. My brother Mark and sister Kara were my best friends before they died. We were a close family. Living without them created a hole in my heart and punctured my courage.

Walking around, working full-time, driving in the highly populated city where they were killed (Houston, TX): created stress and tripled the trauma. The only way I broke through the daily PTSD back then: moving to New York City where new memories made instead of walking past old, painful ones on a daily basis. Painful memories because Mark and Kara were gone; no more laughter, closeness, fun-filled holidays, the balance they brought to my life - life's foundation cracked. Less joy. No air left in those balloons.

When you lose someone you deeply love, you will feel afraid. It won't make any sense to you. Grief doesn't make sense: it's an emotional process not a mental one. There's no logic to grief. It comes in waves and circles back with no rhyme or reason. Grief is the most unexpected, chaotic experience; making you feel vulnerable when you least expect it.

Zoe and I hiked at least 30 different trails in Sedona. She ran through bushes, along wild animal trails and I never worried about her. She scouted for animals off-leash and it never worried me. We hiked on wilderness trails where few people present. I never worried. We came across herds of havelina and I didn't call out to Zoe in fear. She knew how to stand her ground and I knew how as well - we let the havelina pass. An errant coyote would pass us about 20 yards away: Zoe wouldn't run after it and the coyote would run an opposite direction - never interrupting our nature reverie.

I hike same familiar trails now. But they seem foreign and full of "creatures hiding in the dark." That's grief; not logic. Reminiscent of the days following my siblings' deaths. When I'd drive my car down familiar streets, the familiar commute to work - yet feel less protected, less attached, less sure of myself, less courageous, less secure of the people driving behind me, in front of me, beside me. That's grief-induced fear.

Grief's Fear Factor. What was familiar and safe no longer feels safe nor secure. It took moving to a high-crime area (New York City in 1989), to pop me out of that grief fear stage. When I returned to Houston years later, fear stage returned. I didn't feel fearful in New York City. I felt safe. Returning to the city where my best friends were murdered? Felt unsafe constantly. Barreled through it for twenty years to live closer to my parents who needed me. As soon as I was free to live elsewhere again, I took the chance: moved to Sedona in 2009. Now Sedona doesn't feel safe. Grief-induced fear.

Compounded Grief. Seems like every year, I lose someone whom I deeply loved. Each loss repeats similar reactions: especially the fear factor. A few remedies helped 1988-2008 and help even now: hard work, physical exercise, healthy lifestyle-diet, positive attitude, good nights' sleep, social activities with people. Sometimes I lack the energy to do any of those things even though they're proven effective! As we get older, sometimes we're less motivated. It might take you longer or be harder to "self-motivate" but it's what your soul desires.

Although Zoe was a 4-legged, and very sick before she died, her absence compounds the grief of losing every family member I grew up with: parents, brother, sister.

When you're faced with the realization that those closest to you no longer live on Earth, no amount of channeling their presence replaces their physical presence. You live in a new normal you don't want. Grief is the hardest experience we endure. Betrayal is the second hardest.

If you lost someone close to you - recently or 30 years ago - know that you're not alone. That's the goal of my personal grief posts and upcoming "Grief Book."

Our society does not acknowledge nor honor the complicated grief process properly. Many people who are grieving - or others watching someone grieve - have few tools to assist in the process. Though our species has experienced individual and group grief for thousands of years!

The only proper way to process your grief and move forward: walk through it, feel your feelings, don't self-medicate, take care of your physical body, have faith in something bigger than you, talk to people about how you feel, don't suppress your feelings, accept your grief as a nasty scar that will diminish in time.

Angels surround the grieving. It's the one exception to rule: "Like attracts like." When you're grieving, your energetic field is slow and low. Don't worry. You're protected. Your "grief" energy does not negatively interfere with others' life paths. Just be you. Honor what you need when you need it. Grief "predators" may cross your path. Let your Angels protect you. Ask them for help. While we have physical people, priests, pastors, therapists, Spirit Guides, Angels and Lost Loved Ones who want to help us, your true allies during grief: Heaven's Angels. Know that. Feel them. Ask them for help when you need it. They exist for you.

----Robin, The Sedona Spirit Psychic

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