Tag Archives: Loss

The Second Lap

The shoes in the image above are mine. I’ve run more than 1800 miles in them over the last three years. I’ve learned much on the journey. My skill as a runner has increased significantly. But there is still room for improvement. My Ironman training regimen is designed to help me finish stronger than I start. The workouts tend to have tougher components toward the end. Such was the case Sunday afternoon. I was scheduled for a two hour run. The first hour was to be run as a warm up with low intensity just to get good and tired. The second hour was split into three, twenty minute intervals at race pace (or faster) intensity. I started at 1:30 PM in the afternoon on a mid-80’s degree day to simulate the race day run timing. The Texas humidity made sure I was warm right from the start.

I kept my pace measured and easy as I clicked through the first hour, marked off by my regular refueling every fifteen minutes. Then came the work. I laid out my run to have more hills in the second hour. That’s how the course is in Chattanooga in September. Just as I hit the first twenty minute interval, I was heading up one of the steeper hills of the day.

When you’ve been moving at a slow and steady pace for an hour, your body adjusts and kicking it up to a fast gear pushes everything out of whack for a bit until your body acclimatizes to the new pace. But I held it; I hit my pace goals during all three intervals. My software tells me my fastest kilometer of the day was my last one. I was speeding up as I finished! Yes! Real progress! But that second hour, that second lap was tough and demanding on my body and concentration.

Now that I look back on it, the first year after Kristi died was all about survival. I was thrilled just to get to this date last year. So much change. So much hurt. So much adjustment. I wasn’t sure I could do it. But I made it. We made it. Together and smiling! I knew we would be OK.

But as this second year without Kristi has drawn to a close, I realize that it has been much like the second lap of my run. This year wasn’t just about going through the motions just to make it to a certain date on calendar. This year was about making real progress toward thriving again. And we have. But it has been hard. The pace has picked up and life is churning onward. We’ve had to adjust to the new pace and the reality of the new normal has settled in. This isn’t a sprint. Its about endurance. However the path to thriving again is in moving forward, not back. I know it. Its exciting to have progress. But there’s a price to pay. I’m willing to pay it. My goal is not survival. My aim is to thrive!

To Share or Not to Share

Share your story with others. When you find someone with whom it resonates, you’re on the way to building a new friendship. Sound daunting? It might be the first time you try. And the second. But if you keep putting it out there, you’ll keep finding people who connect with it…and you. And your life will have expanded. God’s best gifts are people. You know that. Its why you’ve dealt with so much pain. Losing the greatest gift you’ve ever had likely shattered not only your heart but your dreams as well. You have a choice:

Go into self-protect mode and reduce the connections you have. But staking out a territory to guard inevitably turns into a zero-sum game. Folks figure out pretty quickly they’re not welcome. As a result you end up alone.

Or you go on the offensive. Share, connect and seek to enlarge your territory. You won’t be a fit with everyone, but that’s alright. You’ll be surprised at how many do connect with you. With every connection you’re enriching yourself with another of God’s gifts.

What’s your story? Go on, share it!

On Your Mark!

The Starting Line is one of the many reasons I enjoy race days! Its a visual, visceral reminder that a new beginning is about to take place. Take the 3M Half-Marathon start line in the photo below. I snapped this shot just before being pushed under the arch by the 6700 runners behind

3M Half-Marathon Starting Line

me eager to get underway back in January! The light that dapples the sign isn’t from the sunrise. Rather its from the flood lights set up to illuminate the starting corrals. You can see the amount of daylight by taking a close look at the top right corner of the image. See that steel blue poking color through the tree branches? Yep, it was barely dawn. A new day. A new adventure. A new start. And before the sun was even up!

 

When you go through significant loss, it can feel like life grinds to a halt. When Kristi died, I wondered how I’d be able to keep going. There were days where I just felt like I was turning in circles. Fear about the future can freeze you into inaction and/or open the door to depression. But life doesn’t stand still and you need to keep up with it, especially if you have children, processing and dealing with your grief along the way. Enter the starting line!

 

The Starting Line demands you deal with life in the present tense, the here and now. It calls you to focus on the immediate task at hand. When the horn sounds and the race starts, your

world collapses down to monitoring your physical performance. This monitoring is both mentally and emotionally taxing. When the body is fresh, you have to govern your effort and keep the throttle under control. As the race wears on you transition into mental pep talks and bracing against physical, emotional, and mental collapse as fatigue sets in.

 

Racing is provides wonderful discipline and training of the mind, body and spirit. But the start line is a demarcation that lets you know in a very simple way that you are moving forward. You are not stuck. Life is progressing, at least on some level. In fact, to get to the starting line required a decision and at least some training on your part.

 

Moving forward in life requires a similar decision. Its your choice as to whether you are going to tow the line each day or if you’re going to check out and stay lost and listless. Find a starting line near you and get signed up. You’ll be amazed at how good just crossing that starting line feels.

 

Should You Pull The Trigger?

In less than twenty-four hours my father and I board the plane in Romania and head for home. Its been a fantastic week. New friendships started, old friends greeted, new foods eaten, lives shared, encouragement given and received for the journey ahead. As I prepare to leave, I find myself energized and expectant about the future.

Three years ago I was in the same position. My father and I had just completed a similar trip to Romania. I returned home full of excitement about what was to come. One month later, Kristi was diagnosed with cancer and we were plunged down the rabbit hole that is cancer treatment. Expectation was thwarted, dreams crushed and hope smothered.

That was an awful time, not so far removed that the emotions are deeply buried. It doesn’t require much effort to dig them up. If I wanted. But I choose not to. I choose to not burden this experience in Romania with the negative events that followed my last visit. “You are wise, Chad. You would be foolish to live in such a way.” I can hear the comments now. But that choice wasn’t automatic or quick. Loss and grief of this magnitude color all your decisions.

Obviously this trip has brought to mind the previous one and the events that followed. Its been a natural trigger. I knew it would be before I even agreed to come. I knew I’d be faced with this situation again. But rather than cowering in fear of what comes next, I’ve chosen to walk through this trip and the events that follow with expectation of a different outcome.

When dealing with loss and grief, you encounter trigger events all the time. As I wrote here, many of those events are little things that surprise you. You have two choices when you encounter trigger events, especially those you see coming: Avoid or Embrace

Avoidance can be especially helpful, especially when the grief or loss is fresh. I took my children and skipped out on the usual Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations the first year by going to the other side of the world. We still celebrated but in a way that was so new and unique that it didn’t drag us through all the emotions and pain we were still processing.

But this year I embraced all the holiday celebrations. We fully decorated the house, even doing it before Thanksgiving. There were many trigger events throughout the season that I had to wade through and process. But I was prepared this year and we had a wonderful time together as a family. Poignant with loss yes, but filled with joy nevertheless.

As you approach an event that you know is going to trigger feelings of grief and loss, ask yourself, “Is it OK to pull this trigger?” “Am I ready for this?” There’s no shame in saying no. Its your call. Don’t feel obligated to move forward when you’re not yet ready. The time will come. You’ll know it. And then you can pull the trigger, step into the event and live. If you’re not there yet, know that the day will come. There is hope.

If you’re trapped in fear of trigger events, avoiding them at all costs, and have been stuck there for a while with avoidance your only coping tool, try some training. You’ll be amazed at how good a brisk walk, bike ride or jog will make you feel. You’ll feel better prepared to face those events and pull that trigger to get life moving again.

“PULL!”

Don’t Be Afraid

…to talk about your wife, especially if you have children. My youngest was barely seven when Kristi died. But he was only five when she was diagnosed with cancer. He can’t remember what he had for breakfast, let alone remember what his mom was like, especially before she got sick.

It breaks my heart that most of his memories of her are from fighting cancer. Every once in a while though he’ll come up with a memory from earlier. So I don’t try to stop the other three from talking about Kristi. They need to remember her as well.

I don’t try and force it either, I just let it come naturally. When one of them does something or says something or gives me a look that comes from Kristi, I let them know. Yes, of course it reminds me that she isn’t here any more. But dealing with loss is part of the landscape now. In fact I just posted about it a couple of weeks ago here.

Keep talking about your wife. Its important in the grieving and healing process. God knows. And you’ll find He provides the strength to do it.