Returning to fitness after loss

On Friday, November 6th the unimaginable happened. My beautiful, smart, funny, quick-witted, caring and joy-filled 13-year old daughter passed away.

Clara lived with pulmonary hypertension (you can read more about her story here); a disease that we always knew would shorten her life. What we didn’t expect was for it to happen at such a young age.

After being admitted to hospital Tuesday with a suspected case of appendicitis. Her condition deteriorated quickly and with each test, the news, and prognosis got worse. An asymptomatic, previously undiagnosed kidney tumour had ruptured and reduced her heart-lung function to the point that the only option the medical team had was to try and stabilize her long enough to remove the kidney. She suffered a cardiac arrest during the cardiac catheterization procedure and never recovered.

To say that my husband, two sons and I are devastated is an understatement. We are gutted and heart-broken and inconsolable, trying to reconcile what’s happened with the future we had envisaged for our family.

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Needless to say, exercise and healthy eating have been the farthest thing from my mind.

While I know that movement and energy-giving food will help me to deal with grief, the fact of the matter is, my heart aches, my lungs hurt and my body is incredibly weary right now.

I have very little appetite and am thankful for the friends who’ve stepped up to provide us with hot meals for today and for the freezer. I’m not eating my greens. Or getting enough protein. Remembering to drink water is an issue too.

I had no idea that grief could cause such a rapid loss in weight, muscular strength or fitness.

This week, my husband and I have committed to daily walks around the neighbourhood. Right now, the hills are almost more than I can manage and I have a much better understanding of how Clara must have felt when she accompanied us on walks that were challenging to her heart and lungs.

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I’m sharing this here because I know that many of you will have experienced a similarly debilitating grief and have found your way back to fitness after loss.

I would love to hear what helped you regain your physical strength, not to mention your courage to go back into the gym and feel the gaze of people who know your story and may not know whether to approach you or to talk with you about it.

I know that grief has no map and that it may be awhile before I’m able to teach group fitness, blog regularly and support my clients.

But I’m anxious to get back to doing what I do best; motivating and inspiring others to live a life full of movement and health and joy.

And taking care of my boys. Making sure they feel loved and supported as they move through their own experiences with grief and the relatively rare experience of losing a sibling in childhood.

xo ~ Tamara

 

Comments

  1. Tamara – my heart goes out to you and your family. I am so sorry for your loss and I cannot find the words to properly express my sympathy. My sister lost her daughter five years ago and she wrote about the loss for BLUNTmoms. Her advice – just take things one day at a time. It sounds trite, but I think it helps her stay focused on her family and daily activities because she has given herself permission to not always think about the big picture. That big picture is often times more than she can bear. If it would help you to speak to someone else, I would be happy to connect the two of you.
    We will never forget your daughter, her beautiful smile and courage and strength that you have shared with us over the years. Thank you for letting us share in her life.

    • Debra Farquharson says:

      Hello Tamara.
      Although we don’t know each other we have some friends in common through a mutual interest in fitness and health. I wish there were words that might comfort you and your family during this time of unimaginable grief and loss. My heart goes out to all of you. I hope that you may find some solace in knowing that spiritually your beautiful daughter will always be with you and may even reach out to you in what may seem like a dream to let you know that she is at peace. Sending you love and big hugs. Deb

  2. Thank you so much for sharing those photos with us as well.
    I love them all and LOVE the one of you and Clara from behind.

  3. My heart is so full….it aches for you and your family. Every experience of grief is so different in shape and length and pattern that I never quite no what to say.

    For me, after we had a stillbirth, I had alot of the same struggles you are facing now in terms of fatigue and weakness. Your brain, your body, your spirit, they can only take so much. It’s wonderful that you’re back to taking walks. I’d say just keep doing that. Don’t expect more if yourself right now.

    Walk. Walk and breathe, walk and cry, walk and remember. I walked, and sometimes it helped. Sometimes I’d come back and my face would be raw from crying into the wind, and my sleeve would be gross from using it to wipe my nose.

    For me, everything else cane with time and patience. The food came back, the movement too. I also struggled with something that felt like manic episodes during the worst of my grief. I’d be suddenly overtaken by a desperate, consuming need to go buy and prepare a million vegetables, or I’d spend an hour making a complicated workout schedule. I think it was an escape, and I rarely had the energy to follow through.

    Spend this time with your family, every moment you can. Do things together, and ask the better if they require movement.

    Mostly, just be gentle. Get enough sleep, but not too much. Don’t hold yourself to plans, no matter why you made them, if you feel resistance. Listen to your heart and give it space. The void will never leave you, but you’ll find ways to navigate around it.

    Sending all our love.

  4. Heather @ Not a DIY Lufe says:

    I found that helping others helped me with my grief. I wasn’t active when our first daughter was stillborn so I don’t have advice on that. But I’m a helper & focusing on others helped me not get mired down in my grief. Take a day at a time. The future without your precious girl seems unimaginable, but don’t focus on the days to come. Get thru today. Sending my love & continued prayers.

  5. shirley anne de luca says:

    I am so sad for you and your family for loosing your precious daughter,it must be so hard,omg..Well you have all those beautiful pics and memories of her to keep in your heart..
    Thank you for sharing..
    shirley anne

  6. I have no wise words to share. I just want you to know I think about you and your family every day. Hugs from afar…

  7. also love that you shared the sweet pictures. you and your family have been on my mind. <3

  8. Hi Tamara, I am a fellow Fitfluential ambassador. First and foremost, let me say that although we don’t know each other beyond the Fitfluential/Social Media world, you have been very much in my thoughts and prayers . Our family lost a member to sudden cardiac death (my SIL who died at 30 in her sleep in 1993), after which we learned there was a genetic cardiac arrhythmia in the family, allowing the affected members to take medication and other measures to (hopefully) help them live normal lives. I say all that because the little snippets I had heard led me to definitely feel a kinship with you. // There are no words but please know so many of us are thinking of you and your family. // As to your question about fitness, I think something like this makes the lists we keep, the metrics we track, our attention to every step, beat of the heart, pound lifted, and mile walked or run sort of seem completely irrelevant. THAT SAID, we also know that doing things for our body helps our spirits. I think your plan to walk is a great start …. even (probably especially) when you don’t technically feel like it. Your body needs those exercise endorphins —- and your spirit needs the break. Again, sending much love and support from Florida.
    Paula Kiger (Big Green Pen) recently posted…Eight Pairs of Shoes (A Mama Kat Writing Prompt)My Profile

  9. I am so sorry for your loss. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

  10. I am fortunate to say that I do not have any sage advice for you. I will say that you need to go easy on yourself and take care of yourself… and fitness will come back in due time. And for all of the awkwardness at the gym or in the neighborhood, there will be an outpouring of love and support, so keep your head high and your tissues handy. You are in my thoughts. Thank you for sharing so openly.
    Erica @ Erica Finds recently posted…Free + Clean with Vapor Fresh Sports Detergent #GiveawayMy Profile

  11. My personal experience with grief was that it began as an explosion, and the silence it left in the aftermath was cold and scary and completely unfamiliar to me. I couldn’t be alone, I couldn’t be around people, I couldn’t listen to music, I couldn’t stand the quiet. Things that had brought me peace before – long hot baths, walks, yoga – they all stirred up emotions way before I was ready.

    So I did two things.

    One (per the suggestion of my therapist) I decided on a mantra. I’ll feel better in a year, I repeated over and over to myself. I’ll feel better in a year.

    And I also got a dog. We rescued a dog and he hung out with me all the time. I swear he knew my heart had broken. He never said the wrong thing. He always kept me company. He was always happy to see me. He made me keep moving. He licked lots of tears.

    I know you aren’t asking us to qualify our grief. Mine was for a very different reason and quite honestly I don’t know how you are getting out of bed and putting one foot in front of the other. ❤️❤️❤️
    Sue recently posted…we make the rockin’ world go ’roundMy Profile

  12. Time, Tamara, time.
    Keep walking, try to eat as well as you can but don’t force anything. You WILL heal. There will be scars but you will be well again.
    Love to you and your family.
    ewa recently posted…The case for simplicity in trainingMy Profile

  13. sending all my love. xo
    Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean recently posted…Elf4Health 2015My Profile

  14. I am so very sorry for your loss…your family is beautiful.

  15. Big hugs to you and your family. I have been thinking of you everyday.
    Janice – The Fitness Cheerleader recently posted…How to Choose the Best Mobile Health AppsMy Profile

  16. I have no words of advice, just words of support. Thinking about and praying for your family every day.
    misszippy recently posted…My podcast is live!My Profile

  17. I am so sorry for your loss, Tamara. Time really will help. I also recommend crying as often as you need to, acupuncture, yin yoga, reiki, and walking. This will also stress your adrenal, so look a good adaptagenic herbal supplement like Gaia Herbs Adrenal Health.
    Lynda Lippin recently posted…Fitness Trends for 2016 (and why Pilates is still going strong)My Profile

  18. My mom passed away almost 7 months ago and I am still not back to where I was regarding food & fitness before she passed. At my last Naturopath appointment she gave me sound advice. “You’ll get there. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not for another few months. Because right now it is more important to grieve and heal your heart.”
    Your family is in my thoughts and prayers.
    Maureen recently posted…In Defense of Listening to Christmas Music Before ThanksgivingMy Profile

  19. I am so so so sorry about your loss. Cherish your memories. And just keep moving.
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted…Rock and RunMy Profile

  20. I wish that I had some words of advice to share. Sending so much love to you and your family.
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted…Inner LightMy Profile

  21. You have exhibited such grace and strength throughout all of this. I have been thinking about you daily and lifting you up in prayer.
    Madeline @ FoodFitandFam recently posted…Coffee Talk // 1My Profile

  22. Oh, devastated and gutted are the only ways to feel right now. And exhausted. Recognizing the toll this is taking on you is the first step to taking care of yourself. Walking with your husband and boys is a perfect first step. Thank you for sharing those beautiful pictures and your grief. We are thinking of you and sending our love and prayers for peace in your heart.
    Coco recently posted…My Birthday Gift To YouMy Profile

  23. I am thinking about you and your family every day. Keep wrapping around those who are close to you and let them lift you up when you feel as you cannot go on. You will find strength together and will hold each other through the tears and pain. Sending warmth, love, peace and comfort to you and your family.
    Sandra Laflamme recently posted…Monday Motivation. Alpine Adventures Zipline Tours!My Profile

  24. You and your family have been on my mind and in my heart. Sending love your way.
    Heather (Where’s the Beach) recently posted…Chicago Marathon – The TrainingMy Profile

  25. Girl I have been thinking about you and the whole family so much.
    My level of grief pales in comparison but I like you didn’t have an appetite and dropped weight quickly. I remember trying to run in the early weeks after losing my Dad, and I just felt so heavy. Fatigue and Exhaustion is a result of the emotional side of grief but it has an effect on you physically. Just try your best to be kind to yourself. It’s natural to have bad days. Just ride the wave. Accept those tough days. And know that while time does not heal all – in time you will find a peaceful for your greif to live. Always here if you want to talk, cry, Skype. Xox
    Krysten recently posted…Weekly Workouts + Meal PlanningMy Profile

  26. My heart hurts for you and your family. I pray for strength and grace for you all. You will find your way. Take your time.

  27. I think about you and your family every day and pray for peace, strength, love and hope for all of you. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and opening your wounded heart to us.
    Carrie@familyfitnessfood.com recently posted…BOSU Balance Trainer & BOSU Sport ReviewMy Profile

  28. Beautiful post. Very generous and brave of you to share. My heart goes out to you and your family. Don’t put any pressure on yourself to do or be anything right now. Just be where you are and trust that things will eventually hurt less. Wishing you peace and strength.

  29. I am so heartbroken to hear of your loss. Thank you for sharing the beautiful memories of your daughter with us. I hope you and your family find the strength to move forward with your daughter’s memories forever in your hearts.

  30. I am stunned and saddened to hear about your daughter, Tamara, and I am so very sorry for your loss. My heart aches for you and your family. Know that you are in my thoughts.
    Carrie Rubin recently posted…The One Where I Tell You I’m Not Here, But Somewhere ElseMy Profile

  31. Tamara, it’s been a long time since we’ve traded tweets–I stopped blogging and tweeting. But when I saw this pop up, I just had to come over and tell you how sorry I am to hear about your daughter. My 2-year-old son has a congenital heart defect and pulmonary issues so while I cannot put myself in your shoes right now, I know the worry and the fear that you must have felt taking care of your daughter.

    To say my heart is broken for you is not an overstatement, I can’t imagine enduring such a loss. And being able to write about it. Please know that I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and am sending you much love and strength. xoxo

  32. Hi Tamara. I am deeply sorry for the loss of your beautiful daughter, you have been on my mind quite frequently as of late.

    I suffered a devastating and unexpected loss four years ago. My mother died in the middle of one of her training runs. She was only 60. At that time, I was coaching running – including her – and running was my entire world. Like you, after she passed, I stepped away from fitness, not by choice, and I could not get it back – running just wasn’t the same for me, fitness wasn’t the same for me. I stopped eating healthy, going to the gym and coaching. It, and the year that followed facing my own life-threatening illness, were the worst in my life.

    Now, four years later, I have started running again and the only thing that has helped me is time and patience with myself. I tried to run so many times before now, but it was forced and my body and my mind said no. No. And no again. I kept pushing and just hated myself, my fitness and what happened to my mom and myself all over again. I had to step away, I had to take the time my body and mind needed to try to heal. Did I know it would be so long? No, not at all. It was not until I let me body and mind take the time it needed, that I was able to start getting back to training and health. Now, I do not push myself even today when I physically need to stop due to health reasons, but I get out there and it feels good instead of hard, miserable and sad and because of those positive feelings, I am inspired to lead a healthy life again.

    My grief today is different than my grief was then, but it is still there. Only now, I can work with it, instead of fight for the me I once was. I hope I am making sense. I read your post several hours ago and have since sat staring at my screen trying to find the words I am trying to convey. I know our situations differ in our loss, but I wanted to share what happened to me.

    You and yours remain in my deepest thoughts. Take care.
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  33. I was forwarded your blog by a friend. We lost our newborn son in July (he was premature and had pulmonary hypertension as well as many other issues). I sought out a grief counselor who suggest antidepressants.I really wanted to avoid them and beat this myself. So I researched and found the exercise and sunlight are the only natural ways to boost seretonin in the brain. From there I committed to walking around the neighborhood, and I started to practice yoga. Yoga and other activities force me to clear my mind. It was the most horrible experience of my life. It was so hard to drag myself off the couch, but I always felt better afterwards. I ate nothing in the hospital, barely ate when i got home, i was healing from a c-section, and carrying around extra baby weight. Exercise was the only thing that helped me get my mind off of it. I didn’t start until 3 months after our loss. Good luck to you. I pray for peace for your family. <3

  34. My heart hurts for you. I’m so sorry. No words. Just prayers for you and your family.
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  35. “But I’m anxious to get back to doing what I do best; motivating and inspiring others to live a life full of movement and health and joy.” – This my friend. I can personally say that you have both motivated and inspired me in so many ways and you continue to do so every single day.
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  36. Many people see grief as a “sad time” though it is a trauma to both the body and mind, and traumas need time to heal. Just as you could do damage if you go back to the gym too early (or too forcefully) after a physical injury, going back too soon after a loss can make everything more difficult. Physical activity helps a lot through this process, but what you’re doing is a good way of doing it. Small steps, what you can manage. Let yourself heal.
    Jessica recently posted…My Love-Hate Relationship with NaNoWriMo.My Profile

  37. Dear Tamara,

    Unfortunately, I know what it’s like to lose a child and how the basics like breathing turn from an involuntary action to one requiring effort. I admire you for taking the time to focus on your health and am happy to read that you have the support of your husband and family.

    Sometimes I wish that there was a manual for loss. But there isn’t. I wish you and your family all the best on your journey. I am available to talk, listen, cry or whatever you need, if you need it.

    Besos, Sarah
    Journeys of The Zoo
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  38. Oh my goodness Tamara I’m so sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine what you are going through, but wanted to let you know you are in my thoughts and I am giving you a big virtual hug right now.
    Di recently posted…Staying hydrated while marathon trainingMy Profile

  39. For me, walks help. And I listen to music while walking, and take pictures. Somehow, for me, focusing on these make me feel calmer & stronger. Being inside a gym didn’t give me the same sense of calmness.
    AlexandraFunFit recently posted…How Do I Lose Weight But Not Bulk Up?My Profile

  40. I have no words of wisdom for you and I think only time will allow healing although life will never be the same. I think moving will help the healing process and I know your daughter would want you to do what will keep
    You healthy. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
    Toni recently posted…Five Tips For Better SleepMy Profile

  41. Thank you for being brave enough to share this story. You and your family are in my thoughts. Sending love! xo

  42. May this time of healing be made more serene by your family and your surroundings. I highly recommend getting outside as this helped my mom when my grandparents passed away two years ago. Water is a great place to focus as we all know that staying hydrated will help you think clearly, focus and feel better. Don’t be too hard on yourself right now.
    Ash Diamond recently posted…CLASSPASS Month in ReviewMy Profile

  43. Sending so much love and support to you and your family.
    Brittany @ Barr & Table recently posted…The Next ChapterMy Profile

  44. I remember so clearly after my dad died – I was only 16 at the time, but it flattened my mom so completely that I really had to become her caretaker, the way she had been his for the preceding year. He had cancer and was undergoing intensive chemo and radiation therapy, and the only way he could eat was liquid nutrition in the form of protein shakes. I remember that after he passed, there was a lot of the powder left and for a few weeks, that was the only thing I could get into Mom.

    The point of that is, I wonder if green smoothies might be the best option for you for a while? Because I’m not sure forcing solid food is going to be easy or even possible, but maybe you could do smoothies a few times a day with protein powder? I know it’s not optimal nutrition, but right now I think it has to be about adequacy, not perfection. It would get your greens and protein and (some) hydration in one fell swoop, and might be easier than trying to eat.

    As for fitness, I can’t help but think slow is better, and your body will let you know when it’s ready for more. Is there an indoor pool where you could swim, maybe? Just a thought, but I feel like water can be very healing, and the sense of being supported and a bit weightless might make your heart a little easier for a bit. I feel like I would want to focus on things like yoga as well, just gentle things that don’t require an energy that just can’t be there yet, but that could help you feel looser and dissipate some of the tension that has to be there. And maybe with that, dispersing some of that muscle tension, walking might get easier as well? (And I’m really just spouting stream-of-consciousness here; you are far more the fitness guru than I will ever be.)

    But where motivation and inspiration for others are concerned, please have no worries. You are an inspiration and motivation to me every single day. I want to thank you for sharing your journey through this with us, because as much as I desperately wish you weren’t experiencing it, you give me such an example of honesty and genuineness and openness toward which I can aspire. And I hope, I truly hope, that it helps you to know that we are here and that we care. <3

  45. Thinking and praying for you during this time and this time forward!

  46. I haven’t commented before, but I just wanted to offer my condolences. Your daughter is beautiful and I am sure terribly missed. Take it easy, the workouts will eventually come when it feels good

  47. Elaine Campbell says:

    Gosh, she’s beautiful. She’s your champion now, your angel. I think she’s allowing for this break from fitness and nutrition for a short while. It’s good to grieve and let go for awhile. Keep on loving and giving all you can to your beautiful family, your daughter would want to see you being the person you are.
    Perhaps on Thanksgiving you could prepare a most nutritious and delicious meal in her memory? I am heartbroken for you all, but she and your family need you to help them along this devastating time.

  48. I am so sorry for your loss, there is nothing worse than losing a child and I can’t imagine the extent of your pain. My heart and condolences go out to you and your family.

  49. So many good and rich words here…

    Trust yourself. Trust your body. Understand that as uncomfortable grief is, it is a gift your body and soul is giving you. It is as much physical, as it is emotional.

    Supporting you on your journey…

    <3

  50. Deeply sorry to hear about your loss. Thanks for sharing the pictures of Clara and your beautiful family and the emotions and feelings you are experiencing. Thought and prayers are with you and your family.

  51. Tamara, my heart goes out to you and your family on this terrible loss. Clara was a bright light that added so much love to the world and she will live on in the hearts of everyone she, you, your boys and husband have had the fortune of touching. Sending you love and hugs.

    xo, shira
    Shira recently posted…Express Yourself: Why Bringing More Personality to Work Promotes Greater Employee EngagementMy Profile

  52. Thank you for sharing your experience during this time, I know there are people who are struggling right now that you are helping with this. My daughter is 10 and I can’t imagine how hard it would be to lose her. Take your time with things. My heart is with you Tamara <3
    Sarah Jane @ The Fit Cookie recently posted…11 Perfect Gifts for Fit FoodiesMy Profile

  53. Brandi Koskie says:

    Two years ago my grandfather passed out of the clear blue sky. He looked sick on a Sunday, told he had stage 4 colon cancer that had metastasized to his liver on a Tuesday, and died on Thursday. I’d never lost anyone before. It was an absolute shock. I was his executor and the weight of it all broke me quickly. Just 12 short days later my grandmother, my favorite human, went in for a procedure and passed away. In the same hospital. One floor apart. I went from no loss to two major losses in a matter of days.

    I had no idea it was possible for a person to feel as deeply, painfully sad and empty as I felt.

    My solution doesn’t work for everyone, but I ran away from home. We packed up our things in storage, packed necessities in a few storage tubs in the car, and we (my husband and daughter) traveled 15,000 miles around the U.S. for almost five months. After months of being completely checked out, having zero interest in anything, and going through the same fitness/dietary “who cares” as you, I felt like I had to get away. I think I lived off of oreos and naps for way too long!

    At the time my daughter was three-turning-four and she didn’t really give me a choice. I had to get up and play. At each stop around the country we played, explored, hiked, swam, etc. etc. I remember my husband saying “there she is!” — the fog was lifting.

    Again, I know it’s not realistic for everyone, but at the heart of what I did was forcing myself to live. It was a “get busy living or get busy dying” moment for me and it has been a driving force for us ever since. We relocated to Denver after our trip so that we could keep exploring and playing and living and having more adventures.

    The walks are a perfect place to start. No one has to tell you that. If you have 200 pounds to lose or a crushing weight of grief to work through, take 10 steps, take a hundred. Take as many as you think you can handle. And maybe the next day you’ll take a few more.

    Break routine – which I’m sure is an understatement at this point. I’d be happy to talk anytime. That for me was a huge relief. Somehow the more I said the story outloud the more I seemed to process it. Sorry for the long tome, and hopefully you can parse some sense out of it! xo

  54. Oh Tamara! My heart aches for you and your family! I just want you to know that I’m holding your family close in my prayers this week as you work through something that no one should ever have to go through. Sending all my love <3
    Katie @ katiesfitscript recently posted…New Training & Post Marathon Weekend FunMy Profile

  55. I am so sorry for your loss. I can’t even imagine the loss of a child. I can give a little advice on loss. As I mentioned to you on facebook, I lost my 47 year old husband suddenly in Nov 2010. Grief is devastating. Everyone has a different journey. I was left with four children, two of them younger. My only thought was to get them through without it destroying them. I am sure that your focus is your sons and how to help them through this loss. Please don’t lose sight of you. Your journey is your own. Try to take care of you. Do whatever you need to do to take care of you, as well as your sons and husband. You may have to remind yourself to eat, to drink water, to take showers, etc. In the beginning it is one moment at a time, then it becomes one hour, and someday, it will be one day at a time. On getting back to fitness, take it slow and easy. Only do what you want to do, only do what you feel comfortable doing. I gave up any strenous workouts, I just couldn’t do it. I started slow, with walks and yoga. Your life has a new normal now, and whatever you do, and however you do it, remember that every smile, every memory, every laugh in your family’s future, it all honors your daughter. I tell my kids all the time that the best way we can honor their dad is to live well, be happy and laugh often. Sending you big hugs and healing wishes.

  56. I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. I am lifting your family up in my thoughts and praying you find comfort and peace.
    Pragati // Simple Medicine recently posted…Cranberry Orange Holiday MocktailMy Profile

  57. Oh Tamara. I feel for you so much. And I completely remember/understand what this feels like. You are good to get out and take walks that you are able to endure for now. You will find that the walks will get longer, and then the hills will feel easier. But it will take time. It’s hard to know how long. Be gentle with yourself and know that your clients/friends will wait for you until you feel ready. It’s not been long at all. Hugs to you.

  58. Amy Heffern says:

    Dear Tamara,
    I am a Knitter from your online group, connected via Meg Root my sis-in law. I lost my sweet mother on December 6, 1991 when I was 28 years old and 6 months pregnant with my first of three daughters. She was only 63 years old, and this time of year the poignancy of that loss always renews itself, not just because it is the anniversary of her death but because my mother so adored the holidays and celebrated them with wholehearted gratitude and enthusiasm that was infectious to all around her. The first year it was hard to set the intention to find that enthusiasm and build those same traditions, but year after year as I shared those traditions with my children, my friends and extended family, it became a wonderful way to honor her life and spirit. Now in addition to calling or visiting my still going strong Dad, I make a point of doing something special for another person each year on Dec. 6th and again on mom’s birthday. Helping a friend who needs a little TLC, or my local in-laws, or someone in the greater community ( this year I’m going to try a knit along for a good cause thanks to your instruction), its never difficult to identify a need. I know in those moments especially, she smiles down on me and I feel that unity with her. Of course your loss is so different, and each persons passage through the valley of grief is unique. Even now, 23 years later, I have moments of loss that surprise me, taking my breath away with their intensity, but there are also moments of joy that are equally as breathtaking when I feel her presence like a warm blanket wrapped around my soul, so comforting. You have shown great strength and resilience in telling Clara’s story to all of us. She and you were a very special team. I continue to wish you and your family blessings during this difficult time and during the upcoming holiday season. “Your absence has gone through me, like thread through a needle. Everything I do is stitched with its color.” W. S. Merwin
    xxoo-amy

  59. Sending so much love to you and your family

  60. My heart breaks for you, Tamara.
    I’ve been thinking of you every day and I’m sending peaceful, healing thoughts to you and your family.

  61. There are no words but you are all in my thoughts every day. Much love and prayers for strength to help you through. xo

  62. Nadine Davis says:

    This is a beautiful story of your daughter’s courage and strength…and it seems that she gave some of that to you. 🙂
    Thank you for being so open about this difficult journey and for allowing all of us to get to know a little bit of the beauty of Clara…and for reminding us that we must be patient with the process of grieving.

    Many hugs to you and your family,

    Nadine

  63. Tamara I am so very sorry for your loss.
    I have been thinking about you. I can only imagine how heartbroken you and your family must be.

    I don’t have any fancy words. All I can say is, be kind to yourself. Your girl would want that for you.
    Renee recently posted…Recap: Cologne Marathon 2015My Profile

  64. Tamara, I am so sorry for your loss. I had no idea. Prayers for you and your family.

  65. I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. Take your time, grieve, be angry, do what you need to do. You need to go through your own process, whatever it may be. There’s no one “right” way to grieve. my deepest sympathies.

  66. Being out in nature is what has helped me time and time again through depression, illness and grief. When I was so low and didn’t know where to turn my friend of 50+ years said, “Cath, it’s all around you. It’s what we grew up with and is a part of our soul. The answers are all in nature.” Go outside, Tamara. Take in the smell and listen to the sounds.

    Healing thoughts and prayers to your entire family. I hug you with my words always, Cathy
    Cathy Chester recently posted…Random Acts of Kindness for Caregivers During National Caregivers MonthMy Profile

  67. Nature has always been the answer for me. Taking walks outdoors where it’s quiet and you can smell the trees and hear the birds has helped me through difficult times. I hope it helps you as well.

    Surrounding you with love, Tam, with healing prayers for your entire family.
    Cathy Chester recently posted…Random Acts of Kindness for Caregivers During National Caregivers MonthMy Profile

  68. Tamara, words can’t describe how much I am saddened to hear what you are going through. I am deeply sorry for you and your family with what you must face on a regular basis. Although I can’t possibly understand what it feels like to lose my own child, I would like to share my fitness story with you.

    I had just given birth first child when my father-in-law was diagnosed with a very rare brain tumour. After numerous trips to the island to see him I saw my husband change as a person. He and I stopped exercising, eating healthy and really just had a lot of depression. We were tired, irritable, overweight and just started drifting apart really. We didn’t know very many people here and we don’t have any family here for support. We felt helpless and seeing my husbands father ( in the span of three years) go from a vivacious go lucky kind of guy to barely being able to tie up his own shoes was devastating and my husband and I had started taking our hurt out on each other. Shortly after the birth of my second child, he passed away at the age of 58. Seeing my grand-father in law (age 92) talk about his own son as his burial is something no body should ever have to experience and that is something that I cannot comprehend. My husband and our entire family stopped going out with friends, exercising, eating healthy…you name it, it was a mess.

    What changed for us was one day, we were in a store and it sounds silly but my son points out this family with a dog and cheesy smiles on their faces. He (then 3 years old) said ” mommy LOOK that family is happy.’ I looked at him and started crying, this was his way of saying let’s change this.
    I started looking into fitness classes as I felt that I needed to be with other women that wanted to have an active lifestyle (as that it is what I was used to). I was overweight, depressed, a new mom with a broken-heart and completely overwhelmed with the challenges ahead. A lady at the front desk at the community centre suggested I take one of your classes, I was intimidated to say the least with all the fancy “around the world” steps and it seemed there were a lot of regulars, so I thought this was worth sticking to it. You were very inviting to me when I first started. You were always smiling, you were pleasant, you were just a very motivating woman. I am not good at step ( still not ) but I felt that you truly wanted all of us to succeed and so I started going to your classes as well as having a friend/trainer that hold me accountable to all my hard work but in a motivating way. You have become part of my routine, part of my life and part of my journey and you probably had no idea of this. Just being you, the kind-hearted woman you are and the great instructor that I know you to be from my experience, was enough to help me. I started going for longer walks, longer jogs and before you know it I was at my fitness goal that I wanted to be.

    We never know what each other are going through, no one can comprehend the journey unless you have done it yourself. It takes the support of friendships, colleagues, and family to truly succeed in life. Everyone is different, what motivates me, might not motivate someone else the same. Looking into my three year olds eyes that day,after what he said to me ,made me realize that I am not just in it for myself. I will have good and bad days, but I have to show myself and my family that we are all human and sometimes we just need time. Take short walks, start with truly breathing in nature, know that your daughter is walking right with you and will never leave you. Picture her beautiful face smiling back at you, remember her favourite secret hide outs and go to the places that you both love. Day by day, your journey will take you a little bit further, before you know it life will just change a little bit more. If you need support from me in any way ( or more yummy treats) I will be happy to lend a hand ( my kids really enjoyed helping as well).

    Thinking of you and your family.
    Deserey

  69. lori johal says:

    Tamara, there are no words (from a stranger) that can heal your heart at this time. But I am truly sorry you and your family are going through such enormous grief.

    The first time I experienced the grief you are experiencing I was lucky to find a grief group counselling – I had no idea how much it would help – AND IT DID.

    Also a psychologist – Ms. Margo Weston phone: (604) 736-7860 helped me more than all my family & friends put together – she is someone you should contact – she specializes in grief counselling.

    be kind to yourself -this is a very long journey for you and your family.

  70. I offer you and your family my condolences after this loss, after this tragedy. I wish I had the words to take away the pain, the gut wrenching pain in the pit of your stomach. My father died last month, an uncle ten days later and four days after this loss I had surgery. Please know I am not comparing my loss to yours. No one should ever lose a child.

    I say this to let you know one day walking and working out will feel good again. I just started walking this week. Slower than my usual but it is helping. When I am cleared to work out I will walk a little faster, then go to the gym, then run (a week before my dad died a ran a 10 miler) Just the few shorts walks I have gone on have made me feel better physically and mentally. I know my father would not want me to spend my days sad on the sofa. I know he would not want me to make all unhealthy choices and be miserable. Knowing this in my core helps me walk also, it will help me sweat again and be a better version of me. This is something he always wanted and I will not let him down.

  71. Tamara, I think that everyone who has responded before me has advice that is very good. I know I cannot speak to you from the space you are in right now. I can only tell you that you have been a great motivator and have shown so much strength and humour and kindness since I first met you. I am going to say something to you that you have said many times- “what you can when you can”. Your body will tell you when it wants more, your heart will tell you when you are ready. Go back to that thought of just doing something for 15 minutes, or 10 minutes. Or just make it to the parking lot- when you are ready. I know for myself and for many that are part of your groups, we are here for you like you have been here for us. We are all here for hugs and handholding, and whatever else you may need. We have much respect and love for you and are not going anywhere.

  72. miamiblonde says:

    my heart is hurting for you. so sorry.xoxo
    be strong for your family.
    the pain is intense now, but it will go down. she will always be with you.
    when my dad passed, just mentioning his name made me cry. time does heal. it does not make you feel better, but it helps to deal with the loss. big hug
    xoxo

  73. I am so so sorry for your loss. I wish I had anything at all to say that was helpful but all I can do is tell you how very sorry I am and that your daughter is beautiful.

  74. Tamara, there are no words for your loss. My heart goes out to you and your family. If I’m piling on, it’s in the hope that the sheer deluge of prayers and good thoughts will help buffer some of the pain you must be feeling.
    Anne Louise Bannon recently posted…How to Cook a Turkey for Thanksgiving DinnerMy Profile

  75. My friend Cathy posted your article on her FB page and I read it. My heart sank with sadness. I wish love, peace and healing for you and your family. Clara will always be a light in this world.

  76. I can’t imagine how difficult it was to write that post, much less how difficult it is for you to function at all. I am so sorry for your loss. Sending healing thoughts to you and your family.

  77. Hi Tamara: I have no advice to offer as the losses I have suffered do not compare with the loss of a child. Your child, in this sad case. What I do want to say is that I have thought of you, your family, and Clara ever day since her death. I was comforted to see how well the Celebration of Life seemed to go. My concern was that the day after the service would be another of the toughest, worst ones. And yet, here is this amazing, articulate, poignant, heartbreaking post. Much love and hugs to surround you and your family.
    KymberlyFunFit recently posted…How Do I Lose Weight But Not Bulk Up?My Profile

  78. Tamara, your bravery and strength is a stunning display of the wonderful person and mother you are. My heart is broken for your loss. I wish I could be closer to help you with walks in the park. Love and Light to you all.
    Tiffany @ MyDirt recently posted…My 48 Hours In Los AngelesMy Profile

  79. I cannot imagine what you must be going through. I lost my Mom suddenly a couple of years ago and knowing I have such great memories helped me. Everyone’s grief will go at different paces. Your family will never forget her. Take care of yourself and your family.
    Tracey recently posted…Motivation Needed – Holiday Sweat ChallengeMy Profile

  80. Tamara, I know we’ve only met a few times by way of FitBloggin and events, but as my daughter had her 18th birthday yesterday, I could not help but think of you and the heartache no one can imagine until they are walking through it. We’ve had some significant losses, but everyone is wired so differently that advice becomes just opinion, and often not so helpful after all.

    Trust your gut – and your heart – some days will feel like you’re finally able to step forward, only to have life deliver a sucker punch by way of a memory, a thought, or a realization of yet another “first” that will be missed. It’s been 17 years since the loss of our 3rd little, and I still have the “what if” moments. Still grieve, yet still trust in the greater purpose for all things. Most days.

    For me, I’ve found the gym to be therapeutic. The ability to lift and sweat and be in control of something, anything, even for a bit, has been helpful in working out the emotions and having space to process so I could come home to my family a bit more put back together. Most days.

    My heart grieves for you & your family, and the prayers continue to go up on your behalf.
    xoxo

  81. My heart hurts for your incredible loss. You have been so inspiring to watch on your videos. You abc your family are in my thoughts and prayers.
    Rosemond recently posted…How To Tell If You Are Old-VideoMy Profile

  82. Tamara, I am so sorry for your loss. I don’t know if there is much more than what your amazing community has already said that I can say. You and your family are in my thoughts and there are lots of positive vibes coming your way. Take your time to heal <3
    Ariana recently posted…Lessons Learned From Two Months of Self-EmploymentMy Profile

  83. My condolence goes out to you and your family for the loss of your beautiful angel. I will keep your family in my prayers and my heart.

  84. Oh Tamara…I am so sorry for your loss and everything you and your family are dealing right now. I wish I could hug you in person. Sending my best energy to you. Much love.
    Margo recently posted…Brooklyn Fit Chick: News & Notes #Ryka #UnderArmour #TomTomSpark #Hello Fresh #Brooks #BelleFitMy Profile

  85. Tamara,

    I am sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine how you and your family must feel.

    I have not lost a child, but I felt like I had after learning that my newborn had Trisomy 21, that was 9 years ago. Anyway, it took years for me to accept, heal, and move on with life. If I did not have a strong support system, I would have lost my mind.

    Take time for yourself and let the process of healing have her perfect way in you.

    Sending love, hugs and blessings of peace your way.
    Evelyn recently posted…Why I Kissed Facebook Good-ByeMy Profile

  86. Tamara,
    I am so sorry about Clara. I had only recently found your blog and really love it . You seem like a great person and I’m sure your family is close. I know you will find peace and strength in each other.

  87. Please accept my condolences.. I have no comparable losses to talk about… But please know how very very sad I feel for you…

  88. Diane Diaz says:

    Hi Tamara,
    I just started subscribing to your blog but wanted to let you know that I am so sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you and your family as you go through this.

    Diane

  89. Tamara, I’m relatively new to your blog, but I am so very sorry to hear about losing your daughter. My heart and prayers are with you and your family. I hope you’ll take comfort in knowing your readers, clients and friends are behind you all.

  90. I’m new here but just wanted to let you know how deeply saddened I am to hear this news. I can’t imagine anything more painful or difficult. Please be gentle to yourself in this time. Drink lots of tea and take naps and cuddle under warm blankets close to those you love. When you can, try to lose yourself in someone else’s story via a book or movie. The will to move and eat again will return in its own time. In the meantime, I’m lifting you up in love and light, sending much love and many healing wishes for you and your beautiful family.
    <3

    MZ

  91. Jeanette Andersson says:

    Missing words, but so sorry for your loss. You and your family will be in my prayers ❤

    // Jeanette

  92. Jillian Ayer says:

    I heard about your blog post and loss through a friend. I have a 13 year old daughter. I can not imagine the pain that you must be going through. After hearing about your story I could not sit by and not reach out. I want you to know that I am standing with you as a mother. May you find peace in small moments, wether they are found on your walks or from just the feeling of your husband’s hand holding yours. And may these moments sustain you as you continue to live through all that is being sifted through in your heart and mind. Sending you BIG love.

  93. Gentle. Strengthening. A moving meditation. http://www.taichichih.org
    I am so very sorry for your loss.
    Denise Clemen recently posted…Wednesday Morning Beach ReportMy Profile

  94. Tamara, there are no words. It just hurts so so much. All the time. Somebody once told me that getting thru “one day at a time” is just too hard. The days are just too long. And so, we get thru one hour at a time. And sometimes that’s too much. And so, we have to get thru the next five minutes. Right now, you don’t want to go forward. You just want to go back to when your precious daughter was with you. But you will find your own way and your own comfort. My heart is with you.

  95. I am so sorry for your loss.
    I’ve learned in grief to listen to my body. For me, grief is physical and emotional.
    My body and mind need time to heal.
    I start with the basics, hydrating, healthy light food, mild exercise. Rest, rest, rest.
    Your body will tell you when it is time to do more.
    I’ve thought that the grief will never end, that I’ll never get back to doing things as I used to. But time and rest does it’s job.
    But if I rush too fast, try to do too much, the grief calls me back to slowing down.
    Losing a loved one is so big and life changing, our bodies and minds need lots of time to adjust to a new kind of “normal.” That takes a lot of energy.
    Be good to yourself.
    Light and love to you and your family.
    Susan G recently posted…The 5 Myths of Parenting Our Children to Successful AdulthoodMy Profile

  96. My condolences to you and your family. I am not sure how I would survive the loss of one of my children, or if I even could. I do know that when my mother died, which was the same year my daughter was getting married, in fact she was buried 15 days before the wedding, exercise was what kept me going. I stuck to my routine, going to the gym, running during my lunch hour, at times coming back in tears, not even remembering actually running. Working out is my way to cope, but you will have to find yours, by doing the hardest thing possible, living one day at a time, day after day, until you can again focus on the future. Please remember though, to take care of yourself, so you can then help take care of your family.

  97. Dear Tamara and family, I know this is a very painful time for all of you, but try to remember the sweet times you had with Clara. My prayers are with you all.
    Ivonne recently posted…Hitting the Heavy Weights AgainMy Profile

  98. Bless your heart…so sorry…

  99. Hi Tamara,

    Feeling very sad for your loss and I pray that God will give you enough courage to you and your family to deal with this pain. It hurts but if this is something on which we have no control. Just the thought of losing a child can break a mother ( and father) into pieces and I don’t have any words to say further.

    May your daughter’s soul rest in peace.
    Regards,
    Bharat
    Bharat Sharma recently posted…43 Amazing Health And Beauty Benefits of Amla (Indian Gooseberry)My Profile

  100. Dear Tamara…
    I cannot even begin to imagine what you and your family are going through right now and my heart aches for you. Right now, I can only imagine that the basics of life are just about all you can take… so just do those. Get up every morning, remind yourself to breathe in and out, take the next step – and then the one after that. Be gentle with yourself and your family, give space for those times when even doing the basics is too much – that’s okay. Draw strength from those around you. I am sending love and prayers.
    Christy

  101. I do not know you or your daughter, but can clearly see what a beautiful spirit she is from her photos. Whatever it is you are feeling, is okay. You acknowledged there is no map for this grief, no rules about how you should feel. Those who do not know what to say, or say things that sound impossibly trite to you, are trying to reach out in love. They just cannot know where all the tender, sore spots are in your heart. From such immeasurable pain and loss can come immeasurable strength. You will have a new super hero inside that will allow you to reach out to those who have experienced a similarly debilitating grief to guide them back to fitness and inspiration. But until you come out that side of loss, treat yourself with kindness and know that you are slowly recovering from a state of shock.
    With great respect and compassion,
    Joann
    Joann recently posted…THINKING A BETTER THOUGHTMy Profile

  102. Firstly, I’m so sorry for the loss of your precious daughter. I’ve been on the “grief journey” 14 months and am just now regaining any motivation, energy or hope. Some days, just getting in the fresh air and taking some deep breaths was all I could do. Showering seemed like climbing a mountain. I was shocked at how grief affected me physically. No one prepares you for that. I suddenly had no appetite, high blood pressure, fatigue, joint pain, and quickly lost stamina and strength. Day by day. Honor what you can do today. Getting out of bed and brushing your teeth is worthy of applause some days. Take it easy. This is your body’s way of helping you endure such immense emotional pain.

  103. I am so sorry to read of the loss of your daughter and it must have been incredibly difficult to write this blog to explain to all your friends and fans what you and your family have been going through. I can only offer my condolences and hope that your grief lessens with time. In the midst of this dark time when it is natural to focus on our own pain it is sometimes difficult to have to energy to comfort each other. I wish you strength and courage to carry on and that your family pulls together in mutual support.

  104. Time is the only thing. Letting the fact that you got out of bed that day be a win. Taking deep breaths and just giving yourself time.

  105. Dear Tamara,

    I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. there are no sufficient words, or really any sufficient advice to offer in addition to what you have already heard. My heart goes out to you and your family.

    That you and your husband are going out on short walks already is huge. I am walking through my own journey of grief right now and I am finding that kindness to and for myself is the only thing that helps right now.

    When you are ready, James Van Praagh’s book “Growing Up in Heaven” was one that changed my life. Also, any of Brian Weiss’ books may help too. But JVP’s book helped me heal formless a few years ago and is helping me stay the course now.

    Wishing you and your family peace,

    Christina Haas

  106. So very sorry I am late here Tamara but you have been in my heart & thoughts daily!

    I know none of us can tell you what is right to get thru this – it tends to be an individual thing. My heart aches for all of you & all the other family members outside of the boys & your hubby.

    All I can say with all the losses I have encountered is that I try to remember that they would not want us to dwell on them or lose ourselves or our life. They would want us to move on – yes, it takes times for sure… my first huge loss, I did not realize this stuff & took me 2 years to get thru it. I understood after the fact that it was the loss dragging me down.

    I know you have a huge community of support & hope that you lean on them. There is nothing wrong with reaching out for help.

    HUGE HUGS AND LOVE!!!!

    Again, I know I already sent….

    That’s about it for now. I’m off to dance in the clouds,
    sing at the end of the rainbow and travel at the speed of thought. When you least expect it, I’ll pay you a visit.

    Please do not stand at my grave and weep. I am not there, I do not sleep. I am a thousand winds that blow. I am the diamond glints on snow. I am the sunlight on ripened grain. I am the gentle autumn’s rain.

    When you awaken in the morning’s hush, I am the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds in circled flight. I am the soft stars that shine at night. Please do not stand at my grave and cry. I am not there, I did not die.

    Author Unknown.
    Jody – Fit at 58 recently posted…Gratitude Monday & My Birthday Gratitude!My Profile

  107. Thanks for sharing this, T. Any words just seem inadequate. You’re in my thoughts every day xo
    Suzanne recently posted…Motivation Minute Ep 11: Releasing Perfectionism and FearMy Profile

  108. I am so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and best wishes are with you and your family.
    I haven’t experienced such a devastating loss but over the last couple of years a handful of pretty bad stuff has happened that has seen me lose appetite, fitnesss, muscle, once to an alarming degree. Keeping people who love me close by, spending time with them rathter than hiding away locked in sadness helped me a lot especially as so many of them are runners like myself. I didn’t listen to their reminders to eat properly & not overtrain for a long time but eventually I had to. Their gentle but persistent nagging eventually pulled me out of a negative spiral and allowed me to begin to heal.
    Healing is a matter of time but sometimes also a matter of opportunity.

  109. Tamara, I only know you from social media but my prayers go out to you and your family. Thank you for sharing Clara’s story and also your story of a mother’s grief. The photos are beautiful. I will continue to send out healing vibes to you and your loved ones.
    Joanne recently posted…Join my Free 5 Day Post Thanksgiving DetoxMy Profile

  110. Melinda Evans says:

    Strength to you and your family Tamara. So very sorry for your loss of your daughter. Each day as it comes and take care of yourself please. I enjoy reading your posts and am a knitter and sporty one as well at the midpoint of life. Sure not easy some days what comes our way… My thoughts go out to you and your family.
    Melinda Evans

  111. My deepest sympathies to you and your family during this difficult time. My heart goes out to you all. I hope you find strength in the comfort of those around you.

  112. Thoughts and prayers to you and your family. Thank you for sharing your story. My next donation to the American Heart Association will be in your daughter’s name.

  113. There are no words for how you must feel, but love to you and your sweet family in this painful moment. Your strength will bring you through the hard days. Wishing you peace, and I’m so sorry for your loss, Tamara.

  114. I would probably completely shutdown if I ever lost my little one. Very sorry for your loss Tamara.
    Jennifer recently posted…Do Guys Like Bigger Butts?My Profile

  115. The only thing that helped me through losing my mother to pancreatic cancer was god and crying out loud. Three years have passed and its gotten easier, but I still think about her and look at old pictures. Holidays, her birthday and the date she passed is the hardest. My adrenals have been out of control which in turn increased my cortisol. I m literally only losing a pound every four months. Although the results are slow and discouraging, I still
    find time to workout. You have to keep going, its hard as frekin hell. It just makes you stronger especially for your boys. Volunteering for children with the same issue helps as well.

  116. Dear Tamara, I am so sorry for the loss of your daughter, Clara. We lost a son, Justin. Be gentle with your self. Grief, especially the grief for a beloved child is beyond description. I was always thin and dropped even more weight – no appetite. I was active, but the frenetic activity of trying to outrun my grief. We learned so much from The Compassionate Friends organization and attended their national conferences. Being surrounded by other parents and seasoned grievers saved us, we learned that we had to be our own advocates for health. I just recently started yoga and have found that very beneficial. And walking, walking is good. I find that I have to follow a high protein diet, bone broths are very soothing. Nut butters on thin crackers are good. Give yourself the gift of time, your grief, your child, your schedule. Other people have experienced loss, but only you have lost your Clara, trust your gut on what is good for you and your family. Wishing you some gentle moments. Sincerely, Terri
    Terri Jackson recently posted…November CoffeeMy Profile

    • Terri, I’m so sorry for your loss of Justin. It’s an unimaginable loss and my broken mama heart reaches out to yours. I’ve already learned the importance of being gentle with myself. I know that this will be a long road and am finding pockets of happiness with my husband and my sons when I can. xo

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