If you’ve been working with me over the past five months, you know my father passed away suddenly this summer just after his 67th birthday. He was diagnosed with Cancer the first week of June and was gone June 17th. So quick.
Dad was a huge and positive influence in my life. He was an amazing athlete – played Irish Football growing up and had a Boston Marathon PR of 2:49 (that means he ran 26 consecutive miles at a 6 minute 30 second pace. Woah.)
Whenever someone asks “How’d you get into fitness?” my answer always involved my dad. I was raised by a hard core no excuses marathoner.
He was also a business genius. He grew up in County Wicklow, Ireland. One of 13 kids. He apprenticed to become an accountant and eventually moved to the the States. First to Acton, MA. Then we moved to the Silicon Valley, CA in 1989 when he was offered the position of CFO at Sun Microsystems. An amazing achievement for a man from such humble beginnings and with no traditional college education (and certainly no Ivy League education).In the 90s he left Sun and began his own manufacturing company – which eventually went public. After selling his company he consulted for businesses around the world. Dad was self made and hard working.
Dad loved and believed in family. We went back to Ireland for summer vacations, but the winter holidays we spent as a little family unit. Mom, dad, and us four kids. We didn’t have extended family to visit with. Thanksgiving and Christmas have always been an awesome and intimate family affair for us.
In fact, when my father was first diagnosed with cancer this summer one of my first thoughts was “Its going
to be so hard having dad sick over the holidays”. I imagined he’d be weak from chemo. I had no idea he’d be gone in just a couple weeks.
My parents had been married 40+ years and had an super tight, strong bond. Amazing examples of a loving, respectful relationship. Perfect companions. “She spoils me” dad would often say about mom. She took care of him and made sure he had everything he needed to succeed. Watching her struggle with the loss of dad is difficult. But she is tough – and I know she’ll be ok. We all will.
Now, here we are – trudging through the holidays without dad. Unimaginable.
So, how am I coping with this huge loss?
RUNNING / EXERCISE : I feel closest to my dad when I tie on my running shoes. The day I was told dad had 1-2 days to live I got home from Emerson Hospital, put my son to bed, and went out for a 3 mile run. Crying the whole way under the setting sun.
TAKING IT EASY : I haven’t been seeing as many clients the last few months. I’m easily distracted and spacey. So I’ve been doing less 1:1 work with clients (that’ll be changing come January!) Grief is exhausting.
NO BOOZE : It would be really easy for me to cover up my sadness with glasses of wine in the evenings. The numbness that alcohol brings would be a welcome escape from grief. But the REALITY is that drinking wouldn’t REALLY make me feel better in the long run – and would make me feel worse. I’ve been limiting my alcohol consumption this winter.
YOGA / MEDITATION: A few months before dad got sick I took up yoga on a consistent basis. I’d go to class 1-2x per week. Since dad’s passing I’ve been going to yoga up to 5x per week. It has proven to be the perfect blend of intensity and calming. I’m so grateful I found it.
SUPPORT : My family is awesome. All four of us kids get along and enjoy spending time together. We all love and respect mom. We were taught to ‘get on’ with each other. And now – during the hardest time of our lives – that is such a gift. My siblings have been a huge support for me thru this – I couldn’t imagine going getting through this without them.
The trick with grief is that it tends to roll in and out – like the tide. You’ll think you’re ‘okay’ and then a song will come on the radio, or my son will mention his “Poppi”, or I’ll be out for a run – and the reality and finality of it will roll over me.
I hope this post was helpful. If you have any tips or suggestions about how you’ve dealt with grief I’d love to hear them.
Have a great week,