Physical cost to grief…….


Nana (me) and Marshall Benjamin July, 18, 2017

I’ve been wanting to write about the price grief pays on our health for quite some time.  I also realize the impact that grief has on you is as individual as your grief journey.    Some folks turn to exercise (oh how I wish that had been me!), but in my case, it meant the first two years immersed in physical pain.  I describe those years as if I was being beat with a baseball bat everyday.  My best effort in those early days after July 30, 2012, was to get out of bed, tell my beating heart to keep on beating and put one foot in front of the other.  At the two year mark, I made a commitment to my grief counselor I would get caught up on my medical appointments.  You see I hadn’t had a dental appointment, annual check-up, mammogram etc.  since before the accident.  I followed through with that commitment only to turn around and 3 years have passed and more weight has piled on and I haven’t maintained my health appointments.  Time is an odd thing after loss.  It seems it passes so slowly……and yet you lose track of time in a larger sense.  So, during these last 5 years I have learned what it means to give grace to yourself, because as I was working on my “heart”, I had to give grace to the outward image that was looking back at me in the mirror.  I was hoping the hard work on the inside I was doing would begin to pay off on the outside.  Because like anything else…….I believe the hard stuff we need to work through is always an “inside job”.  Our outside is a manifestation of our hearts.

That realization of where to start, was overwhelming so I just didn’t.  And so it would be a gum abscess that wouldn’t go away that “made” me start this process.    Due to the overwhelming nature of everything that I needed to do… plan would be to start at the top (my eyes) of my head and work my way down to my toes.  So, off I go for an eye exam an updated prescription and new glasses.  Then came the dreaded dentist appointment.  I have never enjoyed going to the dentist.   I know, there are some of you that look forward to the 6 month cleanings.  Not me, but especially not now.  The one I had two years ago was painful.  And I have come to realize I have heightened anxiety now.  The drills, the shots……UGH!  But I went.  My teeth were in such bad shape they could not even clean them.  My abscess was a cracked crown that needed to be extracted which meant a trip to an oral surgeon!!!  Even more anxiety.  After the extraction, I return to the dentist to have a deep cleaning which means it is TWO appointments and they have to numb half of my mouth to  tolerate the procedure.  So, that meant two cleaning visits and MULTIPLE shots.  Thank goodness for my dentist and the hygienist who were understanding and patient.  I have a follow up visit tomorrow and a follow up with the oral surgeon in September to put the post in for my implant.  My lesson….your lesson:  DO NOT wait 3 years to take care of your teeth!  I won’t let that happen again!

With my eyes and my teeth checked off, it’s time for the mammogram.  I am blessed in my medical history that breast cancer has never been an issue, and I got a clean report.  Next was my annual check up with my PCP.  This appointment I was not looking forward to.  I had made progress on my weight loss, but no where I wanted to be.    Again, I have a wonderful understanding caring doctor, but I had a huge wake up call when she asks me medical history questions, and some of the things were last done BEFORE Lizz and the boys left us.  Wow.  Some of the things I couldn’t even remember a date….Heck, I couldn’t even pick a YEAR when some things were last done.  That’s when it happened.  I knew I had to change.  It was time.  I was NOT being a good steward of this temple that God had given me.  I made a vow and I am doing it publicly that I will turn 60 next year and with God’s grace and blessing my goal is to be in the best health of my life.

I left the doctors office that day and joined weight watchers.  I have a co-worker that I hadn’t seen in a while and I barely recognized her!  She had lost 75 lbs on WW and with that living testimony I gave it a try!  I have lost 13 lbs on WW……it’s not falling off….I am part of the “turtle” club.  But just like the children’s story, the steady turtle wins the race.  I have decided……I will not quit, I will not go back.  I am convinced if you stick with it and don’t quit, you will reach your goal weight.  So, here I am at 43 lbs of weight loss, 2 sizes smaller and still have 70 more pounds to lose to reach my goal.  I would love to be there on my 60th birthday, but again, I’ve learned to embrace that this is about the journey and not the destination.  I’m going to be EXTREMELY vulnerable here and post some of my weight loss pictures because I want to be accountable of where I started but also to acknowledge my success.  I am not proud of how I looked.  You don’t wake up one day and are 100 lbs over your doctor recommended weight nor do you lose it quickly.  I was overweight when Lizz and the boys died and their death accelerated my weight gain.  It’s interesting that many of the things I have learned about grief I am now applying to my weight loss journey.  The most important:  It takes time and this is going to be a life long process and I’m OK with that.

PicMonkey Image

I wanted to share this because I have learned there is a connection to heart healing and physical healing (weight loss).  The more I learn about myself and grief the more it drives my health outcomes.  I don’t see marathons in my future but I can take care of and embrace this almost 60 year old body that even though I have not taken care of this amazing gift very well over most of my adult life……God is a God of second chances.  Our bodies and our hearts are amazing things.  They too reset and heal.  One of the best things I have learned on WW, is that we need to give our best every day.  However, since life is always changing and has it’s ups and downs that “best” is also going to be different and that is ok too.  I am learning to do my best every day and be open to see what God wants to teach me about loss….whether that is my “heart loss” or my “weight loss”.  I do believe my heart healing coincides with my health healing.

Looking forward to celebrating a 50 lb weight loss soon!

Till next time,


PS:  I also have completed my well woman exam and will spare you the details….LOL!  But to say I got a good report!  Last but not least is a colonoscopy that is scheduled for September (it was the earliest they could get me on the schedule)!  And then it will be time to start again.



7 thoughts on “Physical cost to grief…….

  1. I don’t want to say I enjoy your posts, but, I do. I appreciate you sharing your journey. Kudos to you on making progress with your weight and health and healing heart. Such a difference in the pictures!

  2. This is a pure description of griefs effects. I was in such pain for so long I didn’t really care about anything else. Any body aches were so dull compared to my heart ache. You are doing amazing and your example gives me energy. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Julie, thank you for sharing your story. We are all human and we get off track sometimes. It’s nice to know that you found your center again and are doing great. Proud of where you are today! You keep going girl!!

  4. Julie you have a beautiful heart and soul. Congratulations on your current and future weight loss. God bless you!

  5. You are such an amazing woman, Julie. I admire your strength in God and truly enjoy reading your beautiful writing and wonderful outlook on so much reality we deal with in grieving.

    You’re looking great!

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