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.