THE STORY BEHIND: Dream Without Fear

While browsing the internet, I came across a blog titled Grief after Traumatic Loss. In this blog, part of a quote from Wortman & Latak says “A death is considered traumatic if it occurs without warning…” The article stated that a traumatic loss individual deals with the assumption the world is fair and that we are in control and safe. It also said that traumatic death leads to increased distress. It has been shown that when someone experiences a traumatic death, they not only have to cope with the trauma, but they also have to cope with their grief. That said, many times we don’t show grief immediately because we don’t understand the traumatic part of the equation - like what exactly happened and why. We live our lives thinking all is right with our world and then our dreams are suddenly shattered. We are sometimes left to question our faith and to become angry with God for allowing this to happen. Questioning with all the bad and evil people in the world, why God would take someone who was a fair and honest businessman, who prayed the rosary daily, attended church every Sunday and Holy Day, was loving and supportive of his family, and had generally been a good and kind person? 

I attended an event recently where gift bags were given for attending. Each chair had this small cloth bag on each seat, with a short saying on the bag. One saying in particular caught my eye. It was “DREAM WITHOUT FEAR”. This is something I have been trying and learning to do for close to 3 years now. 

You see, my husband and 2 of my 3 sons took their annual motorcycle trip (this time to South Dakota) and the unthinkable happened. There was an accident in which my husband was killed, one son was seriously injured (he is now ok and back to riding), and the other son had to deal everything I could not since I was back at home in Iowa. 

Needless to say, my son had a lot to do even while struggling through his own grief - he had seen his father die. He had to talk to police and EMT’s, get damaged vehicles picked up, talk with the coroner, check on his brother at the hospital, talk again with the police and make sure he got a police report, arrange for trips home, etc. Because of everything he has had to go through, I continually worry about him and his ordeal of having to deal with his trauma and grief. 

My youngest daughter was with me daily, even though she had her own grief and family to deal with. She helped me the first several months with decision making and offering opinions on things I questioned and continues to do so even now, almost 3 years later.

From the day I left home after high school to attend a business school in another city, I was never without a roommate. So it has been especially hard learning to live alone and hearing things go bump in the night after living with someone for 53 years. It’s hard no longer having someone to cook for, talk or argue with, plan a trip with, or just to DREAM with. And it’s especially hard going to bed alone, WITHOUT FEAR, and not feeling the warmth and security you once had. 

To me Without Fear is about changes – changing the name on finances, insurance policies, accounts, documents, etc., etc., etc. It’s about moving to a new home and then having to change your address for utilities, magazines, doctors, and for places and people you never thought you would need to give another new address to. Then remembering when ordering something online, to use that new address. It’s about learning how to buy a new car on your own, to pump your own gas, to check tires and learn how much air pressure should be in said tires. And, of course, forcing yourself to get out and do things with friends and family, when you’d really prefer to stay home.   

Dream without fear is about wondering who might be questioning your choices even though you know it is the right one for you at that particular time. And if it wasn’t, then you will learn a valuable life lesson along the way. The list can and does go on and on, but in summary, DREAM is trying very hard to survive this sudden and traumatic loss and move on with my life and WITHOUT FEAR is to become the strong person everyone has always said I am.

- Mary Ann

10% of every dream without fear product sold will be donated to Amanda the Panda.

EveryStep Grief & Loss Services, Home of Amanda the Panda offers a variety of grief support opportunities provided at no cost for individuals in the community. Available to individuals kindergarten through lifespan, their services include: camps, quarterly support groups, in-school support groups, community education and resources. Learn more about ATP at