(Sixth in a series of topical blogs based on chapter by chapter excerpts from Opiate Nation. Translation into most languages is available to the right.)
I have always loved Star Trek. From the early 1960’s shows with the corny scripts and goofy hairdos to the 21st century high-tech and high-stakes extravaganzas. Science fiction envisions the future for us and pushes inventions and technology from getting “beamed-up” in a flash to having a force field to deflect foreign objects.
The concept of a force field would be an incredible tool to have at our disposal – to be able to switch it on and off at will. And I can think of no better time to employ an emotional force field than during the early days and weeks after a sudden death. When it takes all your energy just to exist, to wake up and to face the next moment. An invisible barrier for self-protection.
What does one, what did I, need protection from? I think in those first days after my son’s death it was just about everything. When sudden loss catches you off-guard, every step that has to be taken, every interaction seems like an intrusion into your own dark and private world. I think denial shows up in the form of defense mechanisms, which are natural and normal and necessary. Denial, the force field, is like our guardian angel, protecting us from what seems like certain annihilation.
In “shopping” for an urn for our son, I couldn’t be in denial, so I had to raise my force field for self-protection. And I’m sure, in thinking back, that I was also angry – angry at myself, at God, at society, at everything – because I had no choice but to be thinking about the business of death for my 25-yr-old son.
Fortunately, blessedly, we can move through those emotions from the early days following death and the need for defense mechanisms, our force-field of protection, diminish. It’s not easy. I found that it takes emotional and spiritual focus to move forward, one step at a time, by the grace of God and with the love and support of friends.