They were more like “panic ambushes”.

Benjamin Ange Brazendale peace with fearFear would come out of nowhere and seize me. The strongest seizures were when we first started the journey of loss when Bryan was months away from death and ten years later during the months leading up to Matt’s death. There were certainly many skirmishes with fear in between and after Matt died, but those episodes during those periods were of the debilitating and paralyzing kind.

The ambush itself was just as nerve racking as the fear. There was no warning. There was reason, but no rhyme. I could be anywhere at anytime and fear would grip me.

Because of the erratic ambushes that I really couldn’t prepare for, I had to consciously lean into the experience, not out of bravery or courage, but simply out of not having any other choice. I have learned not to resist fear out of necessity.


I also needed to understand fear. I wanted to make peace with my fear, to accept that this was now an integral part of my life. I wanted to go deep into my fear and just see where it took me.

Separation is the core of my fear.


C.S. Lewis in A Grief Observed said, “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” There is no greater separation that loss. Grief is laced with fear and, for me, it manifested in feeling a part of me was missing and missing them with every part left of me.


Benjamin Grief is like fearI was losing my baby. I held Bryan as close as I could, but it was never to be close enough. I rocked him in our tears, but they landed on separate paths. He was going in one direction and I was left directionless. Lydia and I dressed him in a little blue and white outfit and placed him in the coffin ourselves. I know the depths of separation.

And I knew I would face this fear two more times. Even as I held Bryan’s body as it went cold, my thoughts ricocheted into the day I would hold Lydia’s body…and then Matt’s.


I have mentioned before an insight from another who said, “We are not afraid of the future. We are afraid of the past repeating itself.” I found this to be true for me.

Healing takes it own shape and the shape shifting of my grief has given me peace with my inadequacies around my separation from Bryan and my love for him. It took a lot of leaning into my fragilities, my fear and the illusion of separation itself to heal what I held back in my relationship with Bryan.


What I have discovered on my path is that nothing lives in separation. I may feel I am utterly alone. I may experience the closing of the casket and never being able to hold Bryan’s body again. I may feel the distance sorrow takes me in my solitude. But when I lean into all those places where the void has no reflection I still experience the reflection of presence.


There is something beyond me that lies within me. What that something is that I encounter in every excursion into the depths of my distance is everything. All the fear and isolation that shreds me on the steps of my path into the core of my being unfolds into all that is.

I have no fear when I lean into my fear. I know where it will take me if I am willing to go within and beyond.

I go through fear everyday. It would be nice if I could say my fear is over. It is not the case for me. I know peace. So I know when I am not in it. It is the same with fear and I embrace my fear as much as I embrace my peace.

I acknowledge my fear and lean into it with tenderness. I feel the hurt of aloneness, the emptiness and all that grief has left me. I feel the distance and the excruciation of what is missing, what can no longer be touched, held or felt next to my skin.


Benjamin n CS LewisFear, in the ultimate scheme of life, is an illusion, but I don’t always live in the ultimate. I am born of flesh and I know all too well what it feels like when flesh grows cold and my heart lies frozen holding an empty body. I know well the pain of separation.

Fear is the illusion of separation. I just wish the illusion didn’t feel so real. I have to pause in stillness to find my peace and I carry that peace into my fear to find what is real and what is not.


No. I have no illusion that this illusion feels real. I do have a path, though, that takes me within and beyond the illusion.

I have promised myself to lean into the void left by separation, no matter what, no matter when, no matter how. I choose not to stop at the edge of eternity in separation from all that is. I will walk this path to its tender end.


I choose every day to make peace with my fear and follow my heart into everything. For that is the only way I know I will find everything that is waiting inside what I miss.


I do not miss loving them. I miss holding them. When I go deep within the fear and separation I unfold what is missing and what remains.

I have discovered I hold them differently. I hold life differently. I even hold fear differently. Because, on my better days, I no longer hold life at all. I am held by life.

And therein lies the difference. What I hold holds on to me. But when I am held, I can let go of everything, including my fear and find that I do not live in separation from anyone or anything. And I find refuge in all that is.

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