What To Do When You Have A Fear Of Your Partner Dying

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What To Do When You Have A Fear Of Your Partner Dying
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My partner Demetra and I have lived together for a little over a year.

We are committed to each other. We talk about getting married in the not-so-distant future. And each time our relationship has gone a layer deeper, we have both had a corresponding layer of the fear of dying accompany it.

“What if she gets hit by a car? What if the virus gets her? What if, in ten years, when we’re even more in love and we have kids, she gets cancer?” my inner dialogue rambles on.

The deeper in love I fell, the louder certain thought patterns became. But here’s the thing: Fear is the other side of the metaphorical coin of love. Love and fear always come together.

If you can relate to this, here are some tools that have helped me in my process to let go of my fear of my partner dying.

RELATED: What It's Like To Be Irrationally Afraid My Husband Will Die

1. Realize and accept that, yes, they may die first.

When we resist our fears (or any emotions, for that matter) they just gain momentum.

So instead of immediately turning away from your fears when they present themselves to you, or making yourself wrong for having them, sit down with them and invite them for a conversation. Like you would an old friend.

Play the tape forward on your worst fears.

Maybe you fear that they will die an awful (drawn out, or quick) death when you are at the absolute peak of your love. Well, then what?

If you ask your anxiety, I’m sure there are dozens of nightmare scenarios you can play out in your mind of what obvious and inevitable things will happen next. Your fear/anxiety might convince you that:

  • You would be inconsolable for weeks, or months, or even years.
  • You would feel a pain so unbearable that you wouldn’t want to live anymore.
  • You might be so distraught that you wouldn’t be able to work, so you would quickly become unable to feed, house, and support yourself.
  • Or, maybe you would never find love again, your friends would abandon you, and so you would die old, alone, with decades of isolated pain and meaningless drudgery in your final decades of life.

And guess what? Maybe aspects of this come to have some grain of truth. Maybe your social circle does shift. Or, perhaps you do have several months of regular, deep, guttural sobbing.

And if you are going to allow your creativity to roam free in that direction, then it’s only fair to let it roam free in the other direction, too. Because grief always brings gifts, if you’re open to receiving them.

Yes, terrible, awful, cry-your-eyes-out for months things may occur. And it is also possible that:

  • Your heart cracks open even more than you ever thought possible, and you become a beaming light of kindness, presence, and love to everyone in your family/friend group/extended community.
  • You mourn your partner for several months, and then you meet another partner/widower who you go on to have years/decades of heart-transforming love with, while you both honor your deceased partners as the silent forces that helped shape you into being who you both are today.
  • You have more time to volunteer and you help your community grow and deepen. You create a best-selling book of poetry about your grieving process. You eventually become a grief counsellor and help people who are in your former situation. The sky’s the limit.

In other words, yes, pain is awful. Grief is difficult. But it is also beautiful. And you are as capable as anyone else at channeling your emotions into something that helps the world.

RELATED: I Sat In The Dark With A Dead Body For 8 Hours To Cure My Fear Of Death

2. Swap 'what if' for 'what is'.

Photo: Courtesy of the author

"What if" thinking causes you to be overly focused on the future, and it causes anxiety. Whereas "What is" thinking brings you back to the present moment.

When you catch yourself obsessing over future events that have not happened, break the circuit in your mind by starting the internal prompt of "What is."

For example:

What is true is that my partner and I are very much in love, and they bring me joy everyday.

What is real is that I get to wake up next to my partner every day, and I am grateful for it. 

3. Harness the fear by letting it change how you act today.

The single greatest thing you can do with your fear of your partner dying is to let it inform your present day actions.

Death reminds us to be present to life. The ever-looming threat of death wakes us up to what is real, now.

Instead of fretting over whether or not you will lose them someday, channel that fear into loving them better. Tell them what you love about them, and tell them often. Be gracious, kind, and quick to forgive.

If they pay you a compliment, say thank you and let it in. Listen to them speak with all of your fullness of attention. Go on dates with them. When you hug them, hug them with your whole heart.

In other words, don’t phone it in. Don’t sleepwalk through your relationship.

You never know when it could be your last day with them. So love them in a way that makes you feel like you left it all on the playing field.

Love them completely. Love them with totality.

As you go further into a relationship with someone you care deeply about, it’s completely normal to have a fear of dying come up.

We can deny death and attempt to numb out, or we can say to ourselves, "Yes, death is an inevitable fact of life, and I will allow it to influence the way that I live my life, now, and always. I don’t know how or when we might lose each other, but I know that I can control how fully I love you. And I choose to love you with an open heart, every day."

RELATED: I Meditated On My Fear Of Death For A Week — Here’s What Happened

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Relationship coach Jordan Gray helps people remove their emotional blocks, maintain thriving intimate relationships, and live a better life. You can see more of his writing at Jordan Gray Consulting.

This article was originally published at Jordan Gray Consulting. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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