Cancer Grief

What Jillian Michaels Taught Me about Grief

What Jillian Michaels Taught Me about Grief www.herviewfromhome.com
Written by Kathy Glow

When you are a person who is grieving the loss of someone special, it’s interesting the times those thoughts worm their way into your head. Like, for example, when you’re trying to squeeze in a workout between running kids to camp and cleaning up the kitchen for what feels like the 847th time so far this summer.

Maybe grief has been heavy on my mind because this month is the fifth crapiversary of losing our precious son Joey to cancer. Sometimes I can’t believe that I have been grieving for five years. Sometimes I can hear his laugh or see his twinkling eyes so clearly that it seems like just yesterday that he was here with us.

But when I look at his brothers and how much they have grown up, I know it really has been so long since we said good-bye.

I’ve learned a lot about grief in five years – become an expert of sorts –but I’m always amazed when new realizations hit me at the strangest times. Just when I’m ready to scream at Jillian for calling people “Buddy” one too many times, she goes and says things that make perfect sense for my grief.

What Jillian says: If you want the modification for this exercise, look elsewhere.

What it means for my grief: There is no shortcut through grief. Unfortunately, you just need to do it to get through it. There is no quick and easy way to heal, no cheat, no simpler version. It sucks, but it’s true.

What Jillian says: Your body will change and adapt if you put stress on it.

What it means for my grief: I don’t like change. The only way I will change is if I am forced to change. Grief forces you to change. It forces you to see your life and the lives of those you care about in different ways. It forces you to make different decisions because you care about what will happen if you don’t.

What Jillian says: If you need a break, take one no longer than five seconds.

What it means for my grief: I’ve spent five years taking a break. I’ve spent five years using my child’s death as an excuse for not getting things done, for hiding myself away from people, for not working on relationships, not pursuing my dreams, not being a good mother or wife, for not being happy. Grief doesn’t mean I get to take a break from my life. In the span of life it’s okay if I have one bad hour or day because of my grief, but it doesn’t give me an excuse to slack off permanently.

What Jillian says: You’ve gotta fight for this. Don’t stop. Push through.

What it means for my grief: I cannot let sadness and grief define my life. I deserve to be happy. Yes, a terrible thing has happened in my life. But it doesn’t mean I can never be happy again. I must seek happiness.

What Jillian says: If you think you’re going to die, stay with Anita.

What it means for my grief: It turns out that Anita does have the modifications; so just when I think I can’t do one more of those stupid arm/squat combos, I can look at her. And I can look at people I’ve come to know when my grief days are so heavy I think I just want to curl up and die, too. I’ve met some amazing people who are grieving someone as well – a mother, a husband, a baby, a child like mine. They understand my darkest days and most depressing thoughts because they have them, too.

What Jillian says: We’re doing it with you. We’re all in the same boat together.

What it means for my grief: Whenever I start to feel really sorry for myself, I think about everyone else I know who is grieving someone or something, too. It turns out that it is all of us. We are all grieving something hard that has happened in our lives. Your grief doesn’t look like mine and vice versa, but we need to remember that everyone we know is fighting a hard battle. More gentle words, hugs, and encouragement would go a long way.

Lastly, it doesn’t strike me as ironic that the workout DVD I do is called the 30-Day Shred. At the end of every session Jillian says, “You’ve been shredded.” Yes, I’ve been shredded by grief many times. And like how I feel after I exercise, I may be exhausted and panting; but I’ll pick myself up and do it all over again stronger and better the next time.

About the author

Kathy Glow

Kathy Glow is a wife and mom to four lively boys and one beautiful angel in Heaven, lost to cancer. Most days you can find her under a pile of laundry ordering take-out. When she is not driving all over town in her mini-van or wiping “boy stuff” off the walls, she is writing about what life is REALLY like after all your dreams come true. Her writing has been featured on sites such as Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Good Housekeeping, and Mamalode; but Her View From Home is her favorite place to be. Her blog is at www.lifewiththefrog.com. You can follow her on Facebook at Kissing the Frog.

4 Comments

  • This is truly brilliant. I’m grateful to Four Plus an Angel sending me here to read this. This is my favorite part, as it keeps me connected and grounded and gets me out of my own hurt: “Whenever I start to feel really sorry for myself, I think about everyone else I know who is grieving someone or something, too. It turns out that it is all of us.” Time to get on with the workouts!

  • There are few things that I like more than stumbling upon such a heartfelt, thought-provoking and original post. I’ve experienced pregnancy loss and two losses of older family members recently, as a mom reading about your loss pierces through my heart. As someone coping with the recent loss of my grandma and her sister who helped raise me, I think that your description of how grief catches you at the least expected moments is so accurate. Thank you so much for sharing your perspective.

    • Thank you Katia. I’m sorry for your losses. It is true – grief does catch you at the most unexpected times, but hopefully those are just the times we can learn from them.