Saturday, March 13, 2010

MY STORY - PART 1: Living with Loss - it's ok

Yesterday would have been my brother's 44th birthday.  He was killed by an "incompetent" driver going the wrong way on an expressway 6 years ago.  The accident left his wife a widow and her and their 3 children injured (the oldest son was paralyzed from the waist down, the rest recovered from bruises and broken bones).  The loss, sorrow, grief, devastation... it was almost unbearable.

For my parents, I don't think they ever really recovered from the shock.  Don't get me wrong... we went on and we coped, with strength from God and our church family, but they were wounded people and it made them different (maybe in some ways better... you know how adversity can develop our character?).

Three years after the accident, my father died suddenly.  He was 75 years old and his body was tired but he was still vital and working and his death was a shock to me and the whole family.  My mother's health had been failing because of long term effects of cancer treatment she had in the 1970's.  So for a year after my father died, I was my mom's partner and helper, with her finances, doctor visits... everything.  She was an intensely independent woman, keeping a job for as long as possible and running most of her own errands but as her body failed her, she relied more and more on me and others.  For the last few months of her life, she sought out doctors to try some "heroic" measures to repair damage the radiation had left in her body but in the end she was too weak and the damage was overwhelming.  She died just short of 68 yrs old; 13 months after her husband.

With the loss of my parents I felt the loss of my brother over and over again.  Without my brother who shared the most memories with me of our parents and their legacy, I became very grateful for my husband, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, children, nieces, nephews, friends... everyone who held me up and loved me and shared in my loss.  These people where gifts from God and His provision for me through it all.

My grieving process took on new intensity after my mother died.  For 4 years I was "strong" for my parents and kept my mind busy with concern for them, being the dutiful daughter and supporting them.  As I managed the dwindling details of my parent's affairs I found more mental time and energy to see my needs for true grieving and taking stock of my life and my future. 

What in the world does any of this have to do with nutrition or exercise?  Well, this part of the story of my life led to the keys to the mental breakthrough that allowed me to have the success that I am experiencing in my physical body.  Nine months after my mother's death I hit a point of emotional and intellectual readiness that I have never experienced before.

I needed to write this down today.  My head is swirling with emotions.  Obviously some sad, lonely and bittersweet emotions that you have when you take stock of your losses.  But other emotions too.  Hopeful. Excitement.  Anticipation.  Joy.  Knowing that God has brought me through... and He will bring me through the next chapter and beyond.  In a conversation with a friend today, we put it this way:  Only in Christ Jesus can you find amazing joy in the midst of devastating sorrow.

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