Tag Archives: death

Tomorrow’s Race or Ending a Rough Week by Honoring and Supporting

So much is going on this week.  First and foremost we’re all trying to process what happened at the Boston Marathon and what’s happening there right now as I write this.  I think about all of the victims and the City, itself.  I think about the future of marathons and other sporting events which require wide open spaces and a fluid flow of people ranging from participants, volunteers, to spectators, media and so on.  I think about why we run, bike, swim and do what we do as athletes.  I think of my fellow runners, triathletes and other athletes who wonder about the same things and have shown support by going for a run or signing up for a race.  I think about the newly bereaved parents of all four victims (including the young MIT police officer) who died from this horrendous act and the journey of grief they’ve been forced to embark.

And this week I’ve been thinking a ton about a couple of bereaved parents who are going through exceptionally tough times right now.   I’m praying for them and sending lots of love and positive thoughts their way.

Also during this week I had a couple of tests done on my heart.  I requested them after a relatively high number of deaths occurred during triathlons over the past couple of years.  (Some may read this paragraph and think I’m overreacting by having these tests done, especially given I’m generally healthy.  Maybe I am.  And maybe I’m a bit too sensitive to heart-related issues given what Noah, MLH and I’ve been through.  As far as I’m concerned, NOT doing what I can to help limit my risks seems irresponsible.)  With all of the wires, numbers and other readings displayed on monitors, the ultrasound and a four member medical team assessing me, my exam was rather surreal.   I found myself tearing up a couple of times.  Even talking to my GP earlier about ordering these tests made me feel like I was in some sort of neither world.  We discussed the triathlon-related deaths, the heart, tests, reliability of results, even Noah and other aspects that caused images of my son and the CICU to flash in front of me.  Funny and sick how triggers work.

Finally, my first triathlon of the season is tomorrow.  I’ll race to honor the victims.  I’ll race for the newly bereaved parents and their angels.  I’ll race to help hold my two friends up with empathy and love.  And as always I’ll race for Noah.

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Support System

Since Noah passed away, I continue to get advice on self-care.  One aspect of self-care is having and actually utilizing a support system.   Most people have support systems.  One isn’t required to be a member of the sad, unfortunate bereaved parents club to have one.  For me, though, since losing my son, I’ve become much more open to this concept and much more appreciative of having one.

I’m so grateful for my friends and family members far and near who are there for me.  I am grateful for their love, compassion and efforts to walk by my side on my journey.

I’m also fortunate to have a few bereaved parent support groups.  MLH and I had one while living on the east coast.  We were sad to leave this group.  We miss its members and think of their children often.  When we moved I searched for a local group and recently found one.  Additionally I have a virtual group that consists of parents who also have lost Heterotaxy children.  I am so grateful for having these groups in my life.  They’re an important part of my support system.

Within my support system I have “a triathlete section.”   Here I have my friends and family members who tolerate my training schedule, inquire about my progress and cheer me on.

Members of my tri clubs are also part of my support system.  The interesting thing about this group is they don’t even know it!  They don’t know that by showing up, focusing on the workout, talking about a race, discussing technique, and doing pretty much anything related to training they’re providing a tremendous amount of support.  Not asking if I have children but asking about PRs, favorite segments, bikes, races and training schedules is the best support I can get at that time.

What does your support system look like?  Are you utilizing it when you need to?  Are you part of somebody else’s support system?

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Baby Pierce

This morning Pierce who also has Heterotaxy Syndrome passed away.  I’m dedicating today’s training session to him.  Please keep Pierce, his parents, the rest of his family and friends in your thoughts and prayers.

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Social Interactions

I don’t know how good my social skills were before Noah.  Back then I did consider myself an extrovert though.  Since Noah’s passing I really don’t like interacting with people, especially strangers and even acquaintances.  I’ll do it if I have to.  For example I’ve attended weddings, professional events, birthday celebrations and other gatherings.  I’ll go.  In fact I genuinely want to go to support the friend who invited me.  However at these events I try to balance between being in the present and in a celebratory mood with shielding myself from conversations about babies, work, really anything that would touch upon my life over the past 22 months.  I feel that everything that happened during this period is very personal.  I don’t want to share this with strangers and acquaintances.  Also I don’t want to be a downer at a celebration.  And of course these topics are most likely to cause triggers.

I had to interact with a lot of people at Honu 70.3.

Right away during athlete check in, I dealt with a trigger.  The volunteer reviewing the waiver for me to sign joked that the document says I have to give over my first-born if anything happens.  I didn’t say anything at all and worked really hard — lots of times it’s truly an effort — to focus on completing the simple task at hand.  (Of course he didn’t know about Noah and was just being friendly.  Before Noah, I’ve made similar jokes.) Then he looked at the volunteer to his right and said, “I guess I shouldn’t make jokes like that with a lawyer around.” (Perhaps the other volunteer is a lawyer.)  And then I blurted out, “and my first-born died so it’s not a relevant comment.  Hence my reaction.  But you didn’t know.”  I immediately felt bad because the volunteer felt bad.  Yes, it was awkward.

A couple of times I grabbed lunch at the hotel pool bar.  The first time there I managed to get away with not talking to anyone.  The second time I found myself talking to the woman next to me.  (Her husband was talking to a couple on the other side and she was just sitting there, so we ended up chatting.)  We talked about triathlons.  She’s been racing triathlons for 30 years and raced Kona (the Ironman World Championships) nine times!  We talked about the crosswinds on the bike course.  We talked about all of the other Ironman races she’s done – she’s raced a lot.  I actually enjoyed talking to her.

I joined my coach and other members of his group for a swim in the ocean on Friday morning.  I briefly met only a few members when I swam with the group in March so leading up to this Friday group swim I mentally and emotionally prepared to meet people.  I tried hard to be social and easy-going.  I think I did ok.  We pretty much talked about the race, training and bikes.  My coach has quite a large group at this race, and many of them wore team clothes during their stay in Kona.  I saw them everywhere – on the race course, at the finish line, the next day at breakfast.  I felt bad for not reaching out and introducing myself to them but I knew I hit my limit for socializing.

I know I’m less of an extrovert now.  I don’t know if I’ll stay this way or if at some point I’ll feel more comfortable interacting with others.  Because I work hard to avoid triggers and talking about almost anything that occurred over the past 22 months, I find myself experiencing awkward moments.  I often feel socially inept.

I also know I prefer being around only MLH and my close friends.  I’m not up for meeting new people which isn’t good since we’ve just moved to a new town.

I’m thinking if I have to meet new people, I can focus on meeting other athletes.  I have a better shot at talking about just training and racing which are safe topics.

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A Helpful Book: When A Friend’s Baby Dies

This morning I came across this free ebook, When A Friend’s Baby Dies (Helping Your Friend After Babyloss) by  Kristine Brite McCormick who is the mother of Cora.  Cora was only five days old when she died.  (You can learn more about Cora and Kristine on Kristine’s blog, Cora’s Story.)

I agree with Kristine that “Every mother is different.  We all grieve differently.”  (Kristine also talks about fathers in her ebook.)

Unfortunately, 150,000 infants, children, teenagers and young adults will die each year in the United States (according to The Compassionate Friends 2011 Fact Sheet).  And more than 25,000 families will face a stillbirth and more than 900,000 an early pregnancy loss.  So at some point in your life you may need this book to help guide you as you support a friend or to share with your friends.  Perhaps you need this book now.

Thank you, Kristine, for creating such a helpful resource.  You are a beautiful mother.

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