For moments when you are afraid of death

cemetery during day

Writing has been nonexistent these days. I find myself in a whirlwind of transition and busyness. I can’t tell you how many topics I’ve rummaged through to present a reading to you today. Yet, nothing seemed to take. I found myself thumbing through old content and then I found an oldie that perfectly expresses the weight of anxiety that I feel in this current space. I hope it does your heart as good as it did mine as I revisited it. 


The idea of death is crippling. Last night, as I lay in bed, exhausted from the day, I was haunted by the lack of certainty in whether or not I would see the next day. I would feel my body relax, heading into a deep slumber, but I would jolt myself awake – afraid that my last breath may have been my last.

See, there’s been this unbearable pressure looming over my head to make every day count. I can thank parenthood for this newfound anxiety seeking to control my every thought.

After my daughter was born, I realized the weight of responsibility that fell in my hands. How am I supposed to keep a human alive? How am I supposed to make sure no one hurts her? How do I ensure that no one takes advantage of her? How?

I’m not sure if there is any three letter word that has preoccupied my mind as much as the word “how.” How this, how that? You would think that the mental fatigue that I endure throughout the day from worrying about my children would surely be a shoe-in to a good night’s rest. After all, I am mentally and physically exhausted. On the contrary, I delay bedtime. I find a way to avoid or prolong my trek to arguably the scariest moment of the day for me. The moment when everything is still – except for my thoughts. The moment when my limits are glaring me in the face. The moment when fear screams louder than faith. That moment right before I drift off to sleep.

This is where everything comes to a head. This is when the fragility of life lays beside me and dares me to take a chance on sleep. But what if I don’t wake up?

This has been my war.

I have been overwhelmed with the weight of legacy. What am I leaving my children? What do I have to show for my time on this earth? When I turned 30, I thought this would be the year that the wind would be beneath my wings. This was supposed to be the year for me to soar! Yet, this has been the year that my human fragility decided to make itself known.

You may think this is a bit morbid, but, once a week, I spend at least an hour at a nearby cemetery. One day, as I was looking for a place to be alone with God in the midst of this COVID-19 craziness, I stumbled upon this place and thought it was the perfect place to be alone and reflect on my life. My time at this place has proven to be the perfect spot for me. The first day there, I wrote this in my journal:

“I figure coming to a cemetery may seem morbid but it’s one of the only places that I could think of that demands stillness, silence and reflection. Cemetery grounds are typically well kept; never mind the fact that I’m surrounded by death. But, aren’t we always surrounded by death? What’s the difference? Contained corpses versus mobile corpses?”

Have you ever just stopped in the middle of your day and asked yourself why everyone is in a rush? Everything we do is in some way, shape or form, meant to prolong our life. But why are we rushing to get more time only to waste that time, missing out on the life we sacrifice everything for, in the race to get more time? Read that twice if you have to.

From the moment we are born, we begin to die. Only God knows how much time we have and that can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. I think I’m beginning to understand Psalm 90:12 the more I live. It says: “So teach us to number our days so that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”

I think that there can be a healthy understanding of death. One that’s not laced with anxiety and fear. Am I there yet? No. But, I am striving to be. I’m learning to abide in the Lord in the midst of chaos. I fail daily; but, I am learning that when I live from a place of abiding in the Word of God (reminding myself of His truths, His heart and His agenda), I live differently. My priorities are different. I stress less and rest more. I am in the process of learning to live from a place of deep rooted trust in the Lord instead of this high blood pressure laced anxiety that is trying to steal the very life from me that I want to hold on to.

I’ll end with the latter part of my journal entry because I think it speaks for itself:

“I’m stuck between the tension of wanting to strive for greatness and wanting to be saturated in You. The problem with my thinking is that greatness and grace are not mutually exclusive. Being saturated in You, in Your grace, is the greatest “great” that I could ever attain. But somehow, I always forget this truth. Simply put, loving you and teaching my children to love You doesn’t seem like enough.

See, this is the trick! This is how I become a walking corpse. The root lie is that life with You isn’t enough. So what? Now, I go and try to find that thing that will satisfy that God-sized spot through the validation of “dead” things, “dead” people, “dead” actions. Pursuing death becomes more captivating than pursuing life, thus drawing me in and only accomplishing the subtlety of turning my fleshy heart into a heart of stone until I can no longer recognize Your goodness.

But here, in this dead place, I can’t help but realize that all of my vain pursuits won’t matter at all apart from You. Only what I do with You will last.

So what can I do with You? Show me.”

The idea of death is crippling; but teach me to number my days, that I may apply my heart unto wisdom.

You may also like