Death, Eventually

IMG_4978There it is, beneath the thoughts, the chatter, the doubt, the irritation, the barriers against love in all of its varied manifestations: the fear of loss, the fear of change, the excruciating awareness that we will, all of us, ultimately, be separated from the ones we love. At times it seems one of the cruelest realities of life on this planet: that we can love so deeply, but eventually we will separate. Yet as much as we can rail against life, beat our heads against the walls of the universe, argue, bargain, and rage, at some point we need to come into acceptance of death if we are to live our lives with any measure of peace. Death is what is, and to resist what is leads to suffering.

And yet… the more sensitive you are the more acutely aware you will be of death’s many faces, and the more you will try to safeguard against it in all the ways the ego fights reality: your mind will travel into the relatively safer realm of worry in comparison to the vulnerability of staying with an open-handed heart; you will stay in your head and talk and talk and talk about loss without dropping down into the grief, vulnerability, uncertainty and powerlessness; you will create obsessions and compulsions (what we call OCD) to try to control the outcome and live in a world of illusory safety (if I think or do this or that, I will keep death at bay). In other words, death makes us feel out of control, so the more aware you are aware of death, the more out of control you will feel and the more you will try to control your external world in order to grasp hold to something solid, even if it’s only your thoughts.

It doesn’t work, of course. The more we fight against it, the more it demands to be known, creeping into consciousness during the day or waking us up in the dead of night with heart-racing terror. The more we squeeze loss into the palm of our hands, trying to rid ourselves and the planet of its existence, the more it wreaks havoc on our serenity. The highly sensitive heart – which is also, quite often, the gifted mind – is adept at creating ways to prevent heart and mind from touching down into raw, unencumbered awareness of death. Intrusive thoughts, addiction to worry, and the head-space of “what-if” are all ways that we avoid dipping the ladle of heart into the plain truth of loss.

The ego-mind tells us that if we limit the love by creating the barriers – and in the world of relationship anxiety all of the projections of “Do I love him enough?” and “What if she’s not smart enough?” and “I’m not attracted” are barriers – we will safeguard ourselves against this risk. We think that if we love less and with protections around our hearts, it will hurt less if we are separated from each other. But it’s actually the opposite that’s true: when we limit our open-heartedness, the loss, if/when it does happen, is filled with the regret of not taking the risk of loving fully. As the character of Bernadine says in Kate Kerrigan’s “Recipes for a Perfect Marriage” (who spends a lifetime keeping a wedge between her and her husband, never saying the words I love you until the moment of his death):

In the moment he was gone, there was a revelation.

As I said the words “I love you” to my husband for the first time, I realized they were true.

I held him for one hour and I said the words “I love you, I love you, I love you” over and over into our empty room . And I imagined them carrying his soul in a stream of words out through the window and way up to heaven – how many words does it take to carry a soul to heaven? How many “I love yous”?

[That was] the greatest revelation of all: James had been the love of my life. Not what I had wished for, not what I had dreamt of – but wishes and dreams don’t live in the real world. James had been my life. My reality.

Love can live in your mind and your heart, and it can be anything you want it to be. What I shared with James truly belonged to me. Love that lives in the world, love that has to sacrifice, compromise, share, endure. Tangible, touch, tender love, this is the real thing. Love you can touch, that can comfort and hold and protect, love that smell and tastes familiar, if not always sweet. pp.279-80

Oh, but the risk of touching down and opening up. Relationship anxiety has many root causes, one of which is the fear of loss and this awareness of death. What risk we take in loving! Sometimes it cracks me open completely when the petals of my heart open fully to this daily risk. How can I live with an unbarricaded heart when pieces of my heart are walking around on the ones that I love? There’s a piece of my heart, swimming in the pool, diving his almost-eleven year old head underwater again and again. Did he stay under too long that time? Dear God, please keep him safe. And there’s another piece of my heart, six-year old brown hair tousled from sleep, waking up coughing and coughing again. Is he sick? Oh, God, please keep him healthy.

And there’s my love, sitting in his studio, pouring his mind and time and energy into our life, our land, our home, the three of us at the forefront of his consciousness, always. He carries me as I do him. We are attached in ways unseen, a symbiotic unit, so deep are the strands of our attachment. How often I’ve pushed him away, but the tether of us always bring us back into each other’s sweet fold. Sometimes I let myself touch down into raw awareness of what would happen if I lost him, and in those moments I whisper into his ear, “Love is so scary.” But we keep loving, because not to love is, as they say, a fate worse than death. What an interesting phrase.

If we knew we could recover from loss it wouldn’t feel so scary. But because very few of us are guided through the heart-shattering feelings spawned by transitions of all kind (all of which include loss, and, thus, death), we stumble into adulthood with the belief that we can’t handle death. The universe doesn’t make mistakes; we wouldn’t be handed this plan of life that includes death if we weren’t also equipped with the tools to handle it. We are gifted with the very resources that wrap love and loss into one chamber of the heart and, with each loss, our hearts become simultaneously stronger and softer. The cracks are where the light comes in, says Rumi, which means that it’s only when our hearts crack open from loss that we’re offered an opportunity to receive more light.

What are these tools that allow us to navigate loss with more grace?

The primary tool, of course, is to grieve fully, without inhibition, shame, or self-judgement. When we allow the tears to crash, wail, and roar from heart and out the portal of eyes, we give ourselves the biggest dose of healing medicine available to us.

The second tool is support. Sometimes we need to grieve alone, to curl up in a ball in the corner of the bed and sob. Other times we need our grief to be witnessed. We pick up the phone and pray someone answers, someone who can hold the space of grief without interjecting many words. If possible, we allow ourselves to be witnessed by the actual presence of loving others, letting them hold us as our body rocks and shakes until that wave of grief washes through.

The third tool is expression. We are gifted with many ways to transpose the grief from pain to wisdom: we write, dance, paint, act, draw, photograph, sing. To grieve is human. When we stop fighting the grief and extend the hand of our individual paintbrush onto the canvas of our life, the pain becomes manageable.

I don’t know that we ever fully heal from loss. When someone we love leaves the planet, an emptiness remains, the space in our heart that they occupied while they were here. We can say that the love never dies, which I believe to be true, but our human selves in our human bodies will always remember and long for the physical, here-and-now connection that we once shared. A scent, a dream, a place triggers a memory and we’re flooded back into the place of grief, missing our beloved person or animal. Then we cry, talk, express, and move onto to the next moment of our life, the love of this life, of others who remain, enfolding the place in the heart where the departed once lived.

In the end, it’s a choice we make: to remain safe in the narrow realm of the protected heart or to dive off the dock of our fear and swim out into the bottomless sea of loving. In saying yes to the risk, we say yes to the love. For me, it’s the only sea I want to be swimming in: dark and blue waters, giant swells and calm days, rainbow fish and barracudas, and more and more, as the years pass on, the warm, soft island sand that enfolds us, the trees that shade us, the sky that gives us shelter. I choose risk. I choose vulnerability. I choose love, again and again and again.

45 comments to Death, Eventually

  • Lydia

    Thank you for this, Sheryl.

  • Caligirl

    Awesome article! I love the part that we are equipped to handle everything we are given!

  • Clara

    Sheryl, this is magnificent. Such inspired wisdom that cuts straight to that inner-most, tender-most part of myself that knows truth and is truth. After reading this post, I am left feeling raw and vulnerable… both of which I am, as we all are, but rarely experience myself to be when life is stable and fine as it is right now. But it is so important to contact this truth from a place of health and wholeness, not only from a place of desperation and despair. Your poetry pierces my soul, and the pain is exquisite, and the cut feels sacred. The recognition of the inextricability of love and loss is like a timeless wound that cannot heal and should not heal – a wound that is holy. Even as I write this, I know I can dismiss this experience and easily return to my work and my distractions (which I will have to do in a minute), but right now, and through your words, I am contacting the permanence of this fragile human condition – that is so beautiful, so painful, and so real.

  • love-is-my-choice

    Sheryl this is such a beautiful article. It really spoke to me today, I recently endured the loss of a close friend and this article and your words are soothing.
    Thank you

  • Oh Sheryl, you’ve cracked me open. After having had a dramatic surge of anxiety yesterday evening, followed by a very early 4am awakening, as much as I felt mentally and intellectually through the worst, I still hadn’t managed to shed the grief and let the tears flow.

    Then I saw your post in my inbox. I felt scared by the title, but I knew to trust that your words would be gentle, poignantly heart aching, yet reassuring….

    I’m in tears as I write this because I’ve been so afraid of death all my life. When I read Kate Kerrigan’s “Recipes for a Perfect Marriage” I stopped as soon as Bernadine’s husband’s death is announced. I couldn’t bear it. So today, through your blog post, I finally read those words that my soul had been longing to consume but had been too frightened to all those months ago when I shut down and put the book aside. Thank you for gently nudging me back towards it.

    I think I feared that even beyond her husband’s death, she would still be trapped behind the illusion of her own false beliefs and unable to grieve. But in fact, this heart breaking moment releases her. What she says is so painful and so utterly beautiful.

    I’m forever grateful to have found you and your work Sheryl. Thank you for helping me see my light, my love and for always giving me the courage to move forward into my healing work.

    You’re such a blessing on this earth.

    All my love, Zoe xxx

    • You know, Zoe, I had a feeling that many people wouldn’t read this blog and may even unsubscribe from my site because of the title alone, and I was right. Death is so scary to talk about for people in this culture, and their fear makes them want to avoid it completely. And yet the less we talk about it, the scarier it becomes. I’m glad you found your courage to read the post. Now it’s time to finish “Recipes”!

      • Tasha

        Unsubscribe?! Wow that is so fascinating to me. I cried the whole time reading this. I needed it to touch on to feelings I keep having about my husband and 10 month old. It’s so much work being a new mom and I often find myself frustrated with my husband, but then I think “what if I lost him” and realize that you are so right. Love is so scary and I’ve been protecting myself because I’m tired and overworked and giving all that I have to our little girl. I need to get back in the water with my husband and hold him and tell him how much I love him and want to swim with him because he is amazing.

  • Carolina

    Wow Sheryl,my favourite blogpost so far. So much wisdom and beauty in one place. So much truth! Thanks for sharing your gift of sensitivity and written word, brings me a sense of peace and connectedness.

  • Chantal

    Like everyone else, I always find your words to be the perfectly timed message for me, Sheryl. So thankful!

    I spend many of my days feeling stunned by the constant reminder of inevitable death. And though I’ve struggled with intimacy issues in my relationships (and unpacked so much of that damage over the years), I’ve never really attributed my relationship anxieties to the big, daddy fear…death.

    The way that I love my son (unabashedly, with no boundaries, so openly) has brought me so much joy but also, so many fears for that reason. Loving without limits is terrifying sometimes. I can’t help loving him this way, but I hold back with others for that exact reason.

    That was always what I wished people understood about those who have reserves, or are “walled up”–so often, there’s a huge dam behind that door, securing a flood from happening. I love so hard and so deep and I feel so strongly that I’m scared to let it out much of the time. It feels out of control.

    Again–I’m so thankful to have found your blog, and I agree with Zoe–you are a such a blessing to this earth!

  • Suchot

    Thank you for this post Sheryl. I was also apprehensive about opening up the post to read it but I’m glad I did. I’ve been in a place of confusion and uncertainty and fighting against my lack of control these last few days. Four days ago, my healthy and energetic middle-aged cat stopped walking normally and kept falling over. A vet’s visit didn’t provide concrete answers and solutions as I was hoping. It could be an infection, it could also be a brain tumour. I was suddenly hit with the idea that she might not live to old age as I had pretty much expected. I’ve been trying to let myself feel the pain of not knowing, and let the tears come when they want. Thank you for writing about such difficult topics. xx

  • Tasha

    I also just want to say I feel a bit proud of myself because when I saw the title of this blog in my inbox, I was so excited for my daughter’ snap because I knew the blog was going to be a delicious, juicy one. I’m grateful for my willingness to move toward things that scare me instead of away. Hope I can teach my baby this as well. Xoxo

  • Hello Sheryl – I read your beautifully written post because I was attracted by the title. I’m grateful to you for opening up this conversation so deeply and transparently. Death has been on my mind and in my experience since my early twenties- I’m now seventy. I resonated with your description of the shattering vulnerability of loving. Mostly though it was your warm, inviting acceptance of the convulsions of grieving that stays with me. Thank you. Many blessings! Susan

  • Brooke

    What a beautiful article Sheryl. Incredibly well written and so profound. It really touched me on many fronts.

    I see my father’s health declining and I have to think of living without him in my life. It makes me so sad to think of it.

    Also, this helps me open my heart to my new love in my life. My marriage ended suddenly a couple of years ago that almost buried me but coming to your site and reading your writing has helped. I have a new man in my life that loves me with his whole heart. I am learning to meet him there as I also heal from my loss of my marriage. This lovely man is 12 years older than me and I have to consciously let my heart open to him as I can get consumed with thoughts of him dying before me and won’t that be a grief I can’t bare? Reading here helps me.

    As a highly sensitive person I can get drawn inot my thoughts and not live in the now. Thank you for this most beautiful article!!

  • Judy

    so true what you write about, the deepest fear, the ultimate loss; the separation that death brings from the ones we feel so strong a bond with. As one of your readers described above her limitless, boundary-free love for her son, for a child, seemingly completely naturally unconditional…….exposing the fears, risks, reality of human ‘being’.
    What is this…a dirty trick the universe is playing with us? Allowing our birth, giving us life, bring us to this place where there can be so much joy, love, wonder, beauty, most importantly , loving feelings and actions we experience with others! Surely what a GIFT as I am now conscious of as I write this today in response to this beautiful post, Sheryl.
    My work as a nurse, ‘being there’ for people as they face either their own or their affectionate other’s nonnegotiable terminal illness has led to many conversations about death. The dying process, how can we make this unwanted, intolerable situation the ‘best’ it can be. There are some things we can do, for sure, probably mainly and most frequently, is extending our own empathy and compassion. again, loving action (even with ‘strangers) becomes the most rewarding aspect of this hospice work, one that helps us go back to work again the next day….
    Why I moved to respond to your words today has more to do with my own reflections on a new love in my life at age 59 years old, of a new, now two-month old grandson, and the tremendous and overwhelming love and joy I feel!! Of course, everyone has said how wonderful becoming a grandparent is and all that, but again, until something actually happens, is when the emotional experience occurs and all one can say is Wow!
    So, of course, now there is a new reason to want to live to be 115 years old (well, maybe just 100), as well as all those whom I am lovingly attached to. What we want is not always what we get….
    Reading this this morning, helped me release a few tears…..knowing that my son, dil, and little baby will be going back to their home in Hawaii in another month (we live on the East Coast), sharing their visit here with my ex spouse and some ‘old stuff and loss around our divorce twenty years later, my own parents aging and frail health, a recent move, and some communication breakdown with my ‘new’ husband of 15 years……this is a biggie right now…..
    …. I want to choose to love openly and fully, keeping in the present as much as possible. Practice being myself every day and allowing others to be as well. Lessen the worry and fear related to stuff that has not even happened, Enjoy the joyful moments and times when they come, and not be so fearful of feeling sadness and grief around loss, the old ones, the little ones, and the giant ones .
    Thank you for your thoughtful post. It is a help today.
    Hugs, Judy

  • Jana

    Thank you<3

  • Sherylisthebest

    Whenever I feel afraid and raw,I come to your blog. I read old posts and new, I read comments and click links. There is something about your work that makes me feel so safe and secure in my experience as a Highly sensitive person. You’ve made me feel proud to know I am highly sensitive and there are so many others like me who both suffer and rejoice in the double edged gift. This post is exactly what I was thinking about this week as I am challenged lately to feel and act more bravely. Fear, doubt, worry of death, it just comes in when I don’t make room for it – as you have taught me. I can’t pinpoint why this is coming up for me now, but I know that finding the answer isn’t necessary per se. Just have to make room, welcome and allow, before sending that deep fear on its way.

    Thank you so very much!!!

    ❤️

  • Christina

    Beautiful! Thank you…

  • Sherry Corbett

    I assumed, by the title, that you were speaking of some sort of metaphorical death…the end of a marriage or long term relationship. Something of that nature. But my initial instinct was NOT to read your post. Which is why I am just getting to it today.
    My youngest son, Gabriel, was killed 3 years, 9 months ago, one month before his 15th birthday. His class graduated June 7th, just about two months ago. I was given the opportunity to speak at his commencement, when I presented the last scholarship given in his name. I have been in isolation, hiding, ever since. I took a leave of absence from work beginning one month before graduation. My functional level at zero.
    Tha last 3 years and 9 months of my life have been inexplicably raw. My body, and mind, like an exposed nerve, sensitive to even the briefest of contacts. I went to bed for two years after Gabriel left. His loss dragging me to the deepest, darkest place possible. I sedated myself, and I cried and I pleaded with the universe to bring my son back to me. I longed to reach out to people who said “whatever you need, we’ll be here”….in my mind certain that was not only untrue, but simply one of those things you’re required to say when someone loses someone they love.
    I shut myself off from my other son, my oldest, a senior at the time, leaving him to fend for himself because he refused to grieve with the gut wrenching anguish I was feeling. We still haven’t found our way back to each other entirely, and I’m not certain we ever will. The boys were just getting through losing their dad unexpectedly, 2 1/2 years prior.
    The floor of our home, now layered in eggshells, that neither my son or I cared to walk on, through, or even by.
    To love a child is like watching your heart walk around outside your chest….I read that somewhere when I was very young, and understood it, because I helped raise my younger sister. She was my universe.
    And then, my boys. Love in its purest of forms, the biggest, most grand and ferocious love of all time. How could something so fierce possibly end?
    I don’t fear death now. Most days, honestly, I’d welcome it. But for the sake of both of my sons, I choose to stay, letting my heart bleed out, my soul shattered, still begging for my son to come home; knowing full well he won’t.
    That’s what loving someone with your whole self can lead to….bleeding, broken, praying for death…..and yet exquisitely, profoundly, opening my eyes and my heart to see the gift Gabriel left. This too, I will survive…
    Peace~

    • I’m so, so sorry for your loss, Sherry. I hope you have been able to reach out to those who have offered their support, or found your way to the couch of a loving and compassionate therapist who can help guide you through your grief so that you don’t have to remain in a space of darkness. A dear friend of mine lost her son in his first year of life many years ago, and later started this support network. Perhaps you might find some solace and guidance here:

      http://griefsupportnet.org

      • Sherry Corbett

        Thank you Sheryl…I think the only thing that would truly change my heart would be seeing my son walk through the front door….
        Yes. I’ve had a therapist since a month or so after Gabriel’s death….she’s lovely and tries hard.
        Those people that all said they’d be there, with the best of intentions, have vanished. Too much for them to bare…
        I’m so incredibly sad. This isn’t the life that I ordered…..

  • Celsee

    Two years ago, I was struggling with relationship anxiety with my boyfriend of two years at the time, and I found this website. I read through it, worked through it, and despite a break up that I had initiated, I opened my heart to love and worked through the challenges and doubts with my amazing, supportive partner. For the past two years, I loved him more and more. I let myself be vulnerable. I committed to him and I wanted to be with him for the rest of my life. I loved fully, and I was not perfect, but I was willing to work through any issues that we had and I truly wanted to continue to improve myself and be the best most loving partner I could be for him as he was for me.

    I thought I was home free when I learned to manage my own doubts and relationship anxiety. I thanked God I didn’t run away and swore to never leave my love again because he was all I ever wanted. On this night, a fear I did not expect has come to fruition. He is having doubts about our relationship and is considering ending it. We haven’t talked in over two weeks. I’m shattered. He said he loved me and was 100% committed to me, and here we are. Though I don’t know what the future holds, this is a death. A death of what we had and what I thought it was.

    And still, I don’t regret saying yes to the risk. I don’t regret saying yes to the love. And in my moments of faith, I trust that the light will come into the cracks and I’ll receive the light again.

    • H

      Celsee,

      I am so sorry to hear that your partner is having doubts and practically giving up after all the hard work you have done on yourself. This is my ultimate fear. That I will work so hard on my relationship and learn to love fully and make this the best possible relationship and then for my partner to end it. But you seem very strong in the fact that you are not regretting it at all. I hope he sees sense and continues to do the work you have done!

      All the best x

  • Scared

    Sheryl, I am absolutely terrified of death, but mostly just my death because I feel I am not ready for an afterlife. I never considered that my relationship anxiety could be fueled by this fear. Thank you for writing this. Your posts are comforting and I always come and read them when I feel like I’m barely hanging on by a thread to my boyfriend.

  • Angela

    Hi Sheryl, this blog is a hard one to read for me. But you word it with grace. My greatest fear is death. I lost my dad he was my age 44 from a massive heartattack. I also lost my sweet cousin with stomach issues and she was only 13 and she lived in Italy. I always remember her on my birthday which is 10th august as it was her birthday as well. Because they passed away so young. I fear of dying young and I know there only thoughts. Death is part of life and I will accept it when my time is up .. I just dont like to think about it.We have no choice but to face it.

  • liz

    Sheryl,
    your articles have been a great source of support for me as I deal with the strogest flare up of anxiety I have ever experienced. i have been in a committed loving relationship for 7 years. I am 24. Recenlty the thought of this being my only relationship, doubts about my feelings have made my partner the center of my anxiety. In my anxious state I could only gain relief by working up the courage to break up, but something won’t let me. I do have a fear that confronting my anxiety may show me I have outgrown my relationship, but there is so much to uncover. Recently, as I slept I heard a voice yelling “let it go, let it go” and the image that accompanied it was me on a rollercoaster during an incredible earthquake (two of my biggest fears). the feeing of terror and these vibrations shook my body it felt so real. looking back in highschool i remember staying up late afraid of my death and the death of loved ones. I’d wonder around the house just to make sure I can hear everyone alive and breathing. i also quit sports and acivities that I loved becase of performance anxiety. I don’t want my relationship with my best friend to crumble because of this. my friends and family believe this to be manifestation of transitioning to life after college and uncertainty with my career. something tells me fear of death and accidents is at the forefront of this, its been with since I was a child (I was also born on the day of the dead) i feel like I am at a crossroads, I want to go towards more loving open relationship with my boyfriend. but i am
    so afraid 🙁

    • Onedayatatime

      Hi Liz,

      Wow I really could have written all of your post. I too even played sports and while I was able to continue through university I know the pressure to perform (and for myself worrying about others) really affected me. I am 26 and have been in my relationship for 10 years now and my doubt and anxiety really ramped up after finishing school. I know I was once there where I believed the only way to work through the doubts and feelings was to break up. I’ve been following Sheryl’s work for 2 years now and it’s helped so much. If this work resonates with you stick with it. It is all very scary yes. Your relationship means so much to you and that’s why this is scary and hard. Keep moving towards love and the open relationship you want!

  • Charlotte

    Like many, I was anxious to read this blog post. I have always been afraid of death and used to lie awake as a child crying at the thought of my parents dying. I no longer cry at the thought but can’t bring myself to think about it for long. I am in a 3 year relationship and we are currently moving house. The stress of this transition is certainly taking its toll and i can feel a ‘barrier’ around me- almost like a protection or something. The longer I am with my loving partner, the more vulnerable I feel – almost like I have more to lose. The strange things I find with my relationship anxiety is that it rarely crosses my mind that I need to break up with him; more that I just don’t love him enough. The stress of the house move is peaking my anxieties again and I find that my mind races at the thought that something isn’t quite right…do you often find that that ‘something’ stems from the relationship anxiety and the fear of loss itself?

    Charlotte xxx

    • H

      I understand what you mean by not thinking about breaking up but mainly thinking you don’t love him enough. This has happened to me so much lately! I get through us of maybe I don’t actually love him. I have been pretty empty for nearly 3 months now and o just can’t seem to feel the love towards him anymore and this scares the hell out of me and really upsets me so much! But if I don’t sit there and analyse it I am happy and grateful with what o have its just so hard to understand that sometimes you don’t get those lovely feelings all the time like you used to and it can make you think you don’t love him!

  • H

    Hi sheryl,

    I hope you can reply or even if someone else could…

    I believe that every change is life can be like death because if you don’t like change it can be hard to get used to. But mine and my boyfriends relationship seems to be changing and o don’t know how to feel about it. I feel sad all the time like almost like there has been a death. I think our honeymoon period is well and truly over. But how does someone continue the relationship and making it good and building it to be the best ever if you feel depressed?!

  • Klewis23

    This was definitely the most beautifully written post I’ve read on your website yet. In the last few months it has been more apparent than ever that it is the fear of death and endings that drive my relationship anxiety, my judgment, and my allusion of control. I’m so scared. But like you described when talking about swimming in the dark pool of fear – it is beautiful and terrifying to stay there – to face fear- to choose to stay when I want nothing more than to run. Now that I’ve finally identified the source (through years of reading your site and through counseling) I am trying to learn my habits and triggers that go along with the fear (ie- how I feel more comfortable when I ignore my partner or obsessively bring up my worries of our future to him and how I feel when we are apart at nights). Thank you for this and every post that you write and for being committed to this work! You are truly making a difference

    • I’m so glad it spoke to you, Kelsey, and I love hearing that you’re finding beauty in the dark pool. When we can turn to face the fear instead of running, everything shifts.

      • Han

        Hi sheryl,

        I have been thinking about doing the concious weddings course (I am not engaged or married yet) because I have had relationship anxiety for a while, your posts have been helping a lot and I think it mainly comes from fear of loss and longing for aliveness. I want to tackle this and also feel more love and attraction to my partner, which course would you recommend? And when I purchase the course is it possible to do it on an iPhone? Because o would rather not have it on my computer as my family don’t understand what I am going through. Me and my boyfriend are due to move in win each other soon so I kind of want to start tackling this now. I also live in the UK will that matter when purchasing it?? Thanks x

        • The e-course would benefit you enormously. You may want to wait a couple of months, however, as I’ll be releasing my new, updated e-course for anyone struggling with relationship anxiety in any stage of relationship (not just those in the wedding transition). It will work on your iPhone and you can purchase it worldwide.

          • Han

            Perfect, thank you I will look out for that then!

          • Han

            Also, actually one thing I have to ask aswell…. My relationship is getting to the point where it is kinda boring sometimes and I feel so bad for saying that or feeling it but it’s like I’m stopping myself from feeling the love. I went through a massive stage of anxiety and then said to myself that I need to relax and whatever will be,will be. But now I am relaxed I can’t seem to feel the love much anymore, I don’t know if I’m pressuring myself into this or not. I used to see a future like marriage &a kids but now I don’t even get excited about that anymore. I have no idea what’s happened because there is nothing wrong with our relationship. I’m not sure if we are just comfortable around each other now and we just don’t feel as excited anymore. What do you think??

  • anxiouslyengaged

    On Sunday, when I opened up my email to find the title of your blog this week I was overjoyed. As usual, your blog post came at the perfect time.

    August 2nd was my Aunt’s 58th birthday and on 8/1 we found out that she is going to lose her battle to ovarian cancer. Your words were so extremely comforting in a time of pain. You helped me see the light and feel the love in a time of darkness.

    I have always had difficulties dealing with death in my life. I remember at 10 years old hearing that Princess Diana died and I felt so much pain and could not stop crying. I also spent a lot of my childhood praying that everything would be okay with my family.

    I have experienced 2 deaths that were near and dear to me. When I was 18, my grandma passed away. This death marked the first time in my life where I had full blown anxiety and panic attacks. I spent a year in counseling trying to get over this. Then a few months ago my grandfather died. I was so impressed at how I was able to handle his death. I felt that although I was extremely sad, I let myself be sad and understood that it was his time. Now I am dealing with my Aunt’s upcoming passing. I was able to see her and spend time with her this past week and it was the best few days I have had in a long time. Although it was extremely difficult, it was so nice to see how strong she is and how loving she is. I have allowed myself to cry myself to sleep 3 out of the past 4 nights and know that it is all going to be okay besides the fact that I am going to miss her so much. Although death is so painful, death also helps remind you how to live your life. My aunt had so many friends. She never married or had children but her nieces and nephews are her children. She traveled the world. Everything in her home has a memory attached to it. Seeing her in this situation reminds me to think about how I want to live my life and it gives you a sense of purpose. I want to live my life to show her how much I love her and to make her happy.

    All while this has been going on, I have felt so extremely disconnected from my partner. My partner even said that I seem like a stranger. I don’t really want to talk to him and I have zero ounce of me that feels like I can muster up any love and affection towards him. This obviously scares me so much. I am trying to be compassionate with myself but shouldn’t this experience bring me closer to my partner? In the face of death, shouldn’t we show more love? I guess there is a chance that out of fear I don’t want to show more love, but I feel that I am handling this as well as I possibly could, but all I really want to do is be closer to my family right now.

    Anyways, any advice on how this could possibly relate to relationship anxiety would be wonderful. Thank you so much again for writing this post. You’re right, this is not something people talk about and I appreciate you being one of the first to put it out there! Thanks again.

  • time

    Brought tears to my eyes Sheryl, this is so deep.

  • Matt

    Hi Sheryl,
    I posted about a month ago about ending my relationship with my boyfriend due to my anxiety. While I tried to reconcile things, he stated that he had moved but that we would always be friends. He did say that “maybe one day we would be together” but that he needed time to himself. Fast forward a bit and it’s been almost two months since the breakup and I have to say it’s been the two hardest months of my life. The pain has been rough and I find it difficult to enjoy much of anything. As for my anxiety, I’ve now been asking myself, is this pain and sadness a result of me being alone or actually missing him? Is it just that I want someone to be with, anyone? I think, if I’m this upset, it must mean I love him and miss him, right (not just the idea of relationship)? While there’s no definite chance that we even will get back together, but if and when that day does come, my biggest fear is that I will hurt him all over again and that’s the last thing I want. In many ways this breakup has felt like a death. I’ve had deaths in my family and I can attest that the feelings associated are very similar. So many would say to just move on and put this relationship in the past. But, there is a part of me that just can’t do that. There’s so much at stake in reuniting, but I just feel like if it weren’t for my anxiety, we’d really have a chance at starting over.

  • Stef

    Hi sheryl,

    Just wanted to say that your website has really helped me since finding it a week ago.
    I have been in a relationship with another women for 3 and a half years now and have struggled with anxiety for almost 2 of those years.
    We had a great ‘honeymoon period’ until I was anxious about her leaving me or cheating on me or finding someone who is more fun than me. It’s now turned into anxiety regarding me to not loving her enough, or her not being the right person, or if I’m with her because I can’t be alone or the biggest trigger ‘if I’m not actually attracted to girls and only convinced myself to be with her regardless of her gender only because i liked the attention’. The list goes on of intrusive thoughts and feelings that have crippled me for the past few years.
    Lately my thoughts have been based around if I might have separation anxiety. I find that some days I’ll have the anxiety around if she’s going to leave me and other days it will be the opposite as to if I want to leave her.
    For example today she said she was going to go out with her friends for a going away party of one of her friends. I have work early so I need to rest and am unable to go. This spiked my anxious thoughts about not wanting her to be away from
    Me or going out without me there.
    This makes me feel like I have an anxiety about being away from her and then gives me thoughts that maybe I’m only with her because I have this seperate on anxiety and don’t want to be alone.
    I am not an attached person usually. I am not attached to my parents and can be totally fine if I don’t see them for a few days. I have been a traveller in my life so far and have been away for months at a time and never had any problems what so ever with these feelings before.
    This girl is my first serious relationship, which also sometimes triggers me because I can feel at times like I haven’t tried enough to explore other people and so on. But because she is my first it makes it hard for me to know what’s real about my anxieties because I don’t have any other serious relationships to compare it to..
    It’s so confusing to go through because the thoughts change every day and don’t stop. Your website has been a great help in easing my stress but of course it is still there..
    I sturggle with trying to look into the anxiety because it is so up and down and I can never pin point what it’s trying to tell me because it goes from one extreme to the other..
    I wonder if anyone else is in this confusing place.. I get the feeling I’m not alone.
    Regardless, thanks for having this website and updating your blog regularly! It’s a great help!

    Stef xx