Waiting can be the most anxiety producing element of any diagnostic process. Most who are having surgery are scheduling the surgery and that gives you too much time to think. There is something to be said for the emergency surgery where your brain doesn’t get in the way by throwing all these life scenarios in front of you giving you too much time to ponder the negative.
I received a call today from the mother of a client. The message basically said that the client is in a state of perpetual “death anxiety”. I can understand the fear of undergoing surgery and then waiting to come out of anesthesia hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. In the meantime I often wonder how is the client living his life?
The wake-up call is the doctor saying you need surgery. What do you think about during the time between notice that you need surgery and the actual surgery? This young man is telling me that his biggest fear is leaving behind a young child. If that’s the fear then what are you doing to day to instill all the “right stuff” the child will need throughout his life? What values are you demonstrating? Do you light up every time the child walks in the room? (these are the things the child will remember)
The truth is that until the surgery is done we sit in the “waiting room of life”. This holding place is not as pleasant as the green room of a TV set, the food in most cases won’t be very good. It’s at these times that we are reminded about how small we are in the Universe. The truth is that in the grand scheme of things we’re insignificant, except to those we love and care about. That being said, isn’t it important to make sure that every day is spent fulfilling your dreams of generativity? What’s your legacy going to be?
Obviously the hope is that you’ll have a long time before your legacy is reflected upon, but don’t think that even if you’re healthy that your legacy isn’t being created on a daily basis.
You may think that distraction works to alleviate the anxiety. The truth is nothing can take it away, but by sitting with the fear and understanding what’s under the fear will help reduce its intensity. Let’s face it, we’re not going to be conscious of our death. The Ancient Greeks felt that the way to the Good Life was to meditate on your own death, and yet we try and keep it beyond arms length.
What would happen if it came in a little closer? What can you do today to reduce your anxiety by being mindful of the moment your living in, right now. Don’t throw NOW away!