Free shipping on all orders over $75🎄

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.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Kathy Glow

Kathy Glow is a wife and mom to four teenage boys and one beautiful angel in Heaven, lost to cancer. Most days you can find her under a pile of laundry ordering take-out. She writes 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 You can follow her on Facebook at Kissing the Frog.

Cancer Taught Me to Open My Hand

In: Cancer, Faith, Motherhood
Woman in cancer treatment holding a young child's hand

When I thought I was going to die, grief blinded me. Not really for myself. I’ve had a pretty good run. Reflecting on my life, it’s easy for me to see that my stroll into adulthood was leisurely. In college, I studied literature, a luxurious indulgence. Even as a naive 20-year-old, I understood the extravagance of being able to sit under a tree and read, albeit in sweltering Missouri heat. I studied the world’s literary masterpieces while sweat trickled down my back, mosquitoes nipped at hard-to-reach places, and the MBA students on campus wondered what I was doing. But those...

Keep Reading

“Wear It Anyway, You Never Know When You’ll Get Another Chance.”

In: Cancer, Friendship, Living
Two women holding up dresses, color photo

“It’s way too fancy,” I told my husband. “I’d be overdressed.” My new outfit was a beauty—white and lacy, perfect for a summer cocktail party, but too much for a school function on a Tuesday evening. In the back of my head, though, I heard my friend’s voice. Wear it anyway. You never know when you’ll get another chance. The last time I saw Shalean, I was bloated from chemo drugs, and both of us wondered if it would be the last time we’d see each other. My prognosis was bad: triple negative breast cancer, already spread to my lymph...

Keep Reading

This Is How to Show Up for a Friend Who Has Cancer

In: Cancer, Friendship, Living
Bald woman during cancer treatments and same woman in remission, color photo

One moment I was wrestling with my toddler and rocking my 3-month-old to sleep, and the next I was staring blankly at the doctor who just told me I had stage four cancer that had metastasized from my uterus to my left lung and spleen. “Well, I didn’t see that coming,” I smiled at the young doctor who had clearly never given this kind of news to anyone before. I looked over at my husband’s shell-shocked face as he rocked our baby back and forth in the baby carrier because I was still nursing, and we knew we’d be at...

Keep Reading

I Never Wanted to Be a Hospital Mom

In: Cancer, Motherhood
Toddler standing with IV pole, black-and-white photo

Life as a hospital mom is not a life for just anyone. You have no other choice, there is no get-out-free card you can just put down and say, “Nope, Lord, I do not want this, take it back.” My heart hurts 99 percent of the time. My heart hurts for my child and the pain he is suffering. A necessary evil to keep him on the side of Heaven’s gates.  My heart hurts from the unknown of each day. Will he eat? Will he thrive today? What utter chaos will be thrown our way today? Will there be vomit...

Keep Reading

Cancer Is Weird

In: Cancer, Living
Woman smiling, color photo

Cancer is weird. For 3.5 years I looked into the mirror and didn’t recognize the person looking at me.  First, it was scared eyes. My eyes had lost the look in them that made me feel invincible. I had learned I wasn’t.  A week or so later, I saw the cut on my chest for my port. Then it was a bald head. Then a bald, steroid filled, and puffed up faced person looking at me. RELATED: This is What Cancer Looks Like Sometimes it was a teary-eyed, defeated person. Someone who had been up all night in pain.  I...

Keep Reading

Please Don’t Let My Baby Die

In: Cancer, Motherhood
Toddler boy lying in hospital bed, color photo

I wasn’t made for this.  I am not strong enough. Lord, where are you taking me? Why does this joyful time, filled with our last baby’s firsts, have to be this way? Why did the doctors look at me that way? They know what’s coming, and deep down inside, so do I. The inevitable word that is about to come out of their mouths.  The C-word.  Cancer. It’s life-changing.  Almost as if it were a car accident. Believe me, I know about that. To be the reason behind a grown man hanging onto a thread. Completely unintentional. I just needed...

Keep Reading

The Art of Showing Up

In: Cancer, Kids
Dad hugging young son

As a father of four boys, you may imagine that life is hectic from time to time for me.  While it truly is, in fact, quite crazy sometimes, it isn’t always because of the reasons you might think.  I have four boys, ages 11, 4, 3, and almost 2, and that certainly makes for an interesting daily living experience for my wife and me.  We do our best to remain patient and lean on God’s strength and peace to fill us on the days that seem overly daunting and occasionally even downright impossible, but we are human.  Therefore, we fail...

Keep Reading

No One Prepares You for When Your Husband Has Cancer

In: Baby, Cancer, Marriage
Family sitting by window

No one ever prepares you for the moment you hear your spouse has cancer.   More so, no one prepares for you to hear this when you have a 5-month-old at home. “Mom, they said the tumor is cancerous, and they need to enucleate his eye on Thursday,” I say quietly into the phone as I pump in a dirty bathroom stall at the eye hospital.   Whir. Whir. Whir. Whir. Gosh, I hate pumping.  Today is my first day being away from my daughter. My mom is watching her while I made the trip to the eye hospital with...

Keep Reading

l Will Never Stop Missing My Sister

In: Cancer, Grief, Loss
Woman in red shirt

It might be 16 years too late to properly depict the depressive senses that engulfed my whole being when I lost my only sister Aurora to colon cancer in 2006. Painful flashbacks continue to fill my everyday life at the most inopportune moments that  writing about it might somehow alleviate my grief. I remember getting that random phone call from her one sunny day in September 2006 and how guilt automatically hit me. It had been a while since I last saw her. “It’s positive,” she said. Backed with years of joking around and playing tricks on her since childhood,...

Keep Reading

Having Cancer at 34 Taught Me How to Live

In: Cancer
Husband and wife on boat, color photo

This picture came up in my Facebook memories today. It took my breath away for a moment, just like it has for nine years now. It was the last picture taken of me before my midwife found the lump and my life changed forever.  The first time I saw that photo, I realized I didn’t know that woman anymore. She was naive. Laying there in the sun without any inkling that a cancer was growing inside her. Look at her—unafraid and without anxiety. Less than 48 hours later, she would be gone, replaced by someone who was afraid of each...

Keep Reading