grief is messy & highly caloric.

I lost my Dad in the early morning hours of August 30th.  He was a generous, loving, humorous and complex man.  He also was in a great deal of pain. Thankfully he no longer is.  But, damnit, he isn’t here anymore either.  Now, I’m in pain and I would like to talk with him about what bullshit it is to lose someone I love.  He knew this pain, he lost his baby brother, my Uncle Tom, almost exactly one year ago.  

I flew home to South Dakota from Vermont the morning Dad died.  I wept through both airports—Burlington, Vermont and Chicago’s O’Hare. I had a light blanket wrapped around my shoulders that dried my tears as needed.  I walked to my gate in Chicago, blanket draped and carrying a garment bag.  I caught the eye of a few people who offered nods of acknowledgement and held my gaze, maybe understanding that grief is messy.

Oddly, I kept hoping I could tell someone, anyone that I just lost my Dad.  I now understand what to do if I see someone else in the shape I was in.  To hell with privacy.  I will offer a hug.  Or I will buy them a coffee.  Or I will ask them why they are crying and listen, even if I only have a minute before my flight.

I arrived mid-afternoon.  Flowers, casseroles, baked goods, fruit baskets, cheese and meat trays had already begun arriving at the house.  The doorbell was ringing.  The landline was ringing.  Our cell phones were ringing and pinging.  Hugs and tears filled Mom’s back entryway and helped eased the weight of it all.

I knew the process of the “business” of death wasn’t going to be easy.  However, writing the obituary, picking out Dad’s casket and clothes, making phone calls and so on—these things kept us busy.  Busy is needed those first few days.  Making arrangements gave us something to focus on with a deadline, providing a little scaffolding to a messy emotional process.

There were times before the prayer service and funeral, I wanted the whole world to just leave me alone in my sorrow, because I just lost my Dad.

Thankfully the world didn’t.

I’m now keenly aware of how I didn’t give nearly enough attention to the loss of other people’s parents.  I’m sorry if I seemed cavalier.  I just didn’t know how much even a small gesture could mean.  I always thought of grief as a private process.  I understand better now what’s necessary to get through it all.

I’m so sorry for your loss, no matter how many years it’s been for you.

The outpouring of love, time and culinary talents from the good folks in Burke, South Dakota made it the whole process a lot more bearable.  No one would’ve loved having all of those goodies around more than John.  Right, Dad?  Although I think he would’ve hidden the bag of Dorothy’s famous peanut butter cookies in the freezer and pretended they were already gone.

I’m grateful to you all.  Thank you so much.

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PLEASE NOTE:  Is there a metabolic trick that helps burn the calories (mostly from homemade baked goods) that are delivered to the family during a time of loss?

grief + baked goods + casseroles + visiting + crying + fatigue = COMFORT

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John Lowell Lillibridge lived 79 years, 3 months & 21 days.

Rest, in peace, Big Guy.

You will be greatly missed.

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I’ll give it my best shot, Dad.

Today I throw the discus at the Vermont Senior Games at 10:30 eastern time. I’m hoping to qualify for the Senior Olympics in Albuquerque, June of 2019.   I’ve been practicing.  I’ve watched many videos of remarkable Olympic Women throwing, studying their techniques.  I’ve worked with a coach. Thanks Matt.  I’m prepared to at least give it an honest effort.

Just over a week ago, my Dad sat in the pickup while I practiced throwing at the spot I learned to throw the discus as a seventh grader.  My Dad, my coach gave me some pointers and we laughed about a fifty-one-year-old woman throwing the discus again after 34 years.  Today he’s in the hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, getting world-class care and struggling.

I want to qualify for Dad today.

A standout thrower, Lillibridge placed third as a sophomore, finished second as a junior and won the North Central Conference discus title as a senior. Lillibridge, who placed second in the NCAA Division II national meet in the discus, earned All-American honors. A graduate of the USD School of Business in 1962, he has received the USD School of Business South Dakotan of the Year, the USD Alumni Award and the South Dakota Philanthropist of the Year honor. He has been a major supporter of Coyote Athletics for many years. He held State of South Dakota, Howard Wood Dakota Relays and USD records in the discus. A prep star at Burke, he was first-team all-state in basketball as a junior and senior, scoring a school record 1,631 points. Lillibridge was named to the fourth team of the Sport Magazine High School All-American squad. He also won a state title in the discus in high school.

SOURCE: University of South Dakota Hall of Fame website

USD Hall of Fame John Lillibridge link

It’s hot and humid, good for throwing and keeping middle-aged muscles loose.

I’ll let you all know how things turn out today. 

Wish me luck!

 

 

 

I spent last week…

at Kripalu in Lenox, Massachusetts studying Positive Psychology.   The program is an online course through the Wholebeing Institute.  There is a lot of helpful information on their site. I fell in love with the remarkable students from all over the world enrolled in this program (especially my small group and roommate).  I don’t quite even have words to describe the instructors and support staff…it will come to me eventually.  I’m truly grateful for the privilege of studying this material and being able to share what I’m learning with my family and friends.

Psychology has always been a passion of mine, however, I wasn’t quite ready to commit to finishing my graduate work (I have nine hours from the University of South Dakota—go Coyotes) and this program came on my radar.  To spend a week with people studying gratitude, authenticity, values, happiness, active listening and love was amazing. (There is a huge body of evidence supporting how much gratitude changes your brain chemistry and increases you happiness).  I thought my photos might actually tell more of a story about my experience than words.  Kripalu is a remarkably peaceful place in the Berkshire Mountains of Western, Massachusetts.  I can’t wait to go back in September.

Here’s the link Kripalu.

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