Live & Travel Light: Dealing with Loss a 1000 Miles from Home

**A little blurb on why it’s ok to take the time to grieve, with a few links for feeling-better “workouts”, and healthy comfort food recipes thrown in**

It’s easy to make a commitment to changing your lifestyle when things are going well in that life; when your attitude is good, the days are easy, and your smile natural, then the desire to get up early and hit the pavement, or trade the work clothes for yoga clothes at the end of the day comes a little more easily, a little more naturally, and a lot more often. It’s when life throws you a curve ball that your commitment really comes into question; if you’re decision to be healthy, eat healthy, think healthy, and live healthy was a lifestyle change – a complete overhaul of your life – then it stands to reason that how we deal with stress, grief, heartache, loss, and really, really bad days has to change too. At least, that’s what I thought.

Every person on a weight loss, life improvement journey has triggers for bad habits, and everyone’s bad habits are different; I guarantee though, that if you’ve made your way to this page, then chances are that your bad habit has something to do with food, and too much of it. For me, the day-to-day stresses that we sometimes run into, or the long-week-headaches, or the I’m-feeling-sad-for-no-reason-moods, have been dealt with. I no longer turn to carbs, and wine, and chocolate to deal with the everyday speed bumps; I’ve made that lifestyle change, and I not only know that doing an hour of yoga, or going for a run, is better for me, but I’ve reached a place where I would rather hit the pavement or the mat than binge eat.

That being said however, life sometimes comes up with hit-you-in-the-face, stare-at-your-computer-screen, make-your-eyes-heavy moments that have you struggling to wonder why the hell you ever thought lacing up running shoes was a good way to deal with the bad stuff in the first place. For the past 2 years, I’ve lived in Korea, and in that time, I’ve discovered a lot of happiness…but I’ve also come to realise that being away from home for the big, bad stuff is really, really, fucking hard, and that hitting the pavement for the tough stuff isn’t always a realistic option – no matter how much you want to “live light”.

While in Korea, I’ve also learned to associate skype calls that come at weird times with bad news, and have gotten used to the feeling of uselessness that threatens to pull me off the mat and pavement whenever the bad news does get delivered.

Last night, I was lying in bed when I heard one such skype call come in on my phone. My aunt (for lack of a better term since we’re not blood relatives), had been in the hospital on and off for the past little while battling cancer. Last week, I skyped her at the hospital because we both wanted the chance to say goodbye; the doctors had originally given her 6 months to live, and I thought I’d be back in time to give her one last hug in person. Last week that changed, and they told her “any day now.”

After having spoken with her on skype, after seeing how small and weak she was, and realising that I wasn’t going to be home when she passed, I knew what the skype call from my mother last night was about. I didn’t answer it. I didn’t want to deal with that news at 12a.m. while I was trying to fall asleep, so I didn’t. There was also the smallest part of me that still hoped, a little bit, that that’s not what the call was about.

This morning though, I was woken up by another skype call, and I knew that my hope was wrong. On the morning of Sunday, June 15th, a beautiful, kind, funny, and completely supportive woman passed away. Even though she wasn’t actually related to me, she lived with my family for many years, and helped raise me. I always counted her as a third mom, and I still do. My mom told me that before she died, she kept repeating the number of days until I got home. For her sake, I’m glad she didn’t try to hang on, but the selfish part of me really, really wishes I could have given her one last hug.

When you get news like this, when life really knocks the wind out of you, it makes the whole commitment to “living light” a really hard one. It becomes even harder when the bad news just seems to keep coming, and the people  you want to lean on aren’t close by. During my time in Korea, I’ve also lost 2 grandfathers, have had another family member battling cancer, and have a grandmother who was in a car accident. Losing my “aunt/3rd mom” this morning was just one more moment where I couldn’t help but think, “I really hate getting skype calls”, and “WTF am I doing here?”

So, how do you deal with this type of news, especially when you’re away from home, and trying to “live light”? Well, one more thing I’ve come to understand is that at moments like these – when like life squeezes your lungs to the point of collapsing – you just need to “do you”, whatever that means. Maybe it’s chocolate and a glass of wine, maybe it’s running until you can’t breathe, or maybe it’s binge eating a pint of ice cream; whatever it is, you need to remember that “living light” isn’t just about being physically fit, it’s about taking care of yourself as a person, too.

I’m not saying that you should whip up a smorgasbord of fatty feel-goods, but if you do need a piece of cake, or a few scoops of ice cream while you blubber disgustingly, then that’s what you should get yourself (just remember moderation).

Sometimes, the best thing we can do for ourselves – for our bodies, our minds, and our hearts – is to let ourselves be human; it’s sometimes the hardest thing to do because, especially in these moments, we are our harshest critics. Let me tell you this now, though: I promise, no one else is judging you for having chocolate when you’re dealing with loss.

My oldest sister recently sent me a Melissa McCarthy quote about how, sometimes, we need not worry about those few little pounds because there are more important things in life; she was right. It’s ok, when life sucks, to admit that you’re not invincible, and that things are going to be tough, and that you need comfort. When you get hit by a mac truck of feelings, indulging a little is not a failure, and leaning on people around you does not make you weak, and skipping your hardcore exercise will not make you less committed to living light.

Taking the moments to cry, to be sad, to acknowledge the pain, and the grief, are more important, and frankly healthier, than trying to push aside the feelings that make you human so that you can look better on the outside. We can’t forget that on this journey the end goal is being, and feeling, better – it’s not about having 0% person body fat, and no substance as a person.

If we’re truly going to devote ourselves to living lives that we’re happy with, and in which we are happy, then we need to be comfortable being human, and today, for me, that means eating a pint of ice cream, drinking a coffee, and crying, hard, while I remember a woman who was beautiful, and kind, and supportive, and told me the hard truths, until the very end.

Tomorrow, I’ll get back to the mat (slowly),but tonight, I’m going to give my heart, and my body, and my mind time to grieve, and that is the hardest, healthiest, and best thing I can do for myself.


1 reply

  1. Thanks sweetie for the reminder that we need to grieve… and for making yesterday’s junkfoodbalooza “okay”. I’ll get back on the healthy path sometime later today. In the meantime, I’m going to be gentle on me… and I’m glad you’re going to, too. I love you and am counting the days. xoxo

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