Death has been on my mind a lot lately. A few people I know peripherally have lost someone close to them in the week, both were children. One was due to a long battle with an illness, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
Recently Michael and I met with an attorney to to have a Will drawn up. It seemed like the responsible thing to do as adults and newlyweds who have assets. It didn’t bother me going into it because I’m practical and pragmatic in most things. I’m a planner. If I can plan for something, I will over-plan for it. That’s just who I am. So we met with a local attorney and had the papers drawn up. It still didn’t bother me until it got down to the nitty-gritty stuff. Like who gets the animals if we both go at the same time? I sure as hell don’t want them sitting in a cage at the humane society, where my cats will most likely be euthanized because they are older. I know that when we have kids someday and update this shit it’s going to be even more complicated and emotionally trying–who will take care of them when we both go?
We also filled out Advance Health Directives–you know, the unplug me if I’m not waking up kind of forms. I’ve always known that I didn’t want my life prolonged if I was never going to wake up or get better. I watched two aunts die very slow, very painful deaths due to a genetic disease that had them in a nursing home with a feeding tube unable to communicate for the last decade of their lives. As a little kid visiting them, I knew then and there I didn’t want that. So it was fairly easy for me to fill out my wishes for the Directive.
It wasn’t comfortable, by any means. Especially when Michael and I started discussing different things and scenarios. We both tried to make jokes, to lighten the mood, but it was still uncomfortable.
I don’t know that anyone deals with loss very well. I know that I didn’t deal well with the big loss of my life, my grandfather. That was the start of my weight gain and depression issues. I had a flare-up of similar feelings this summer as I was preparing to marry the love of my life. It should have been a happy time. Mostly it was, but the stressors that popped up in the planning process triggered feelings in me I didn’t know how to deal with. Well, I did, I ate food I shouldn’t have. Hence the pounds creeping on. The closer the wedding got, the more anxious I felt. I withdrew from a lot of people, I was irritable and cranky, I felt overwhelmed. I couldn’t shake the feeling that something horrible might happen to interfere with the wedding. My internal monologue was, I don’t deserve to be happy, something is going to ruin this. I won’t get my “DAY”. I talked about this with my therapist. She tried to help me address the irrational anxiety attacks I was suffering from and honestly, once the wedding day was here, everything WAS alright and I WAS happy and nothing was ruined.
Sure, these are all irrational fears and thoughts, everyone has them. But they were really overwhelming for me. I struggled. I didn’t share these feelings with very many people. I tried to share them with Michael but he doesn’t understand anxiety. He thinks it’s just something you can shut off. “Just stop thinking about it.” Mmmm. Right. I’ll do that.
Anyways. Last night after I got home from the gym, after Michael and I had eaten a delicious dinner he prepared for me and we settled in to watch some TV and relax, I saw something on Instagram from another blogger that made my heart stop and the breathe in my chest pause. She lost her husband.
You may have seen her blog, My Bizzy Kitchen, or you may have seen her comments on my blog. I’ve been a huge fan of her blog for years, since I first discovered blogs. She’s diabetic and counts her calories and her outlook on life has always been upbeat and positive when it comes to weight loss and keeping it off. Her recipes always look delicious and I’ve just enjoyed her posts over the years…
I knew her husband was really sick. He’d been in the hospital off and on this year and most recently he was there for an extended period of time. While I knew it it was serious from the bits and pieces she shared on her blog I had no idea it was this grave. When she posted last night that he had passed away at home surrounded by family, my heart broke for her and everyone there with her. Words just can’t describe how sad it made me feel.
It reminded me just how fragile life is. Things can change in a moment, completely unexpected, completely unplanned for. The rug is pulled out from your feet and you are on the floor on your back with a dazed feeling. That shock of grieve is something that, once you experience, you never forget. The disbelief. The sadness. The anger. All of it. I’ve felt it several times in my lifetime–my grandfather, my coworker a few years ago and one of my coworker’s daughters that died suddenly.
I hugged Michael and tried not to cry, feeling really sad about this blogger’s sudden sorrow. I started to think about the things that make me unhappy in my life and once again I asked myself, “If I died tomorrow, would I be satisfied with how I spent my time?” Would I be glad I spent time at a job that, while I enjoy the WORK, the environment is a toxic cesspool of unhappy, negative people? Would I be satisfied with how I spent my free time? Spending hours on Netflix disengaging because I just needed to escape? Or should I have spent that time doing something more fulfilling? What about the countless hours every week I spend in the gym working out when I could be spending it with my husband and friends? People I love? Is the calorie burn more important than that? Is getting up early on the weekend to make a fitness class more important that sleeping in or snuggling with my husband for hours and being lazy? What about that Lean Cuisine I ate for dinner when what I really wanted was something REAL and delicious and nurturing? Was staying under my calories for the day more important that a happy, healthy, satisfied body?
These are things I think about often. I don’t know the answer to any of them. I’m sure we all have feelings of regret like this. It’s important not to be overwhelmed by these feelings. Not every moment of every waking person’s life needs to be focused on the bigger picture…sometimes the stuff we HAVE to do, or SHOULD do really are the priority. But what about that trip to Italy I’ve wanted to take my whole life? I keep putting it off because the money saved should be spent on something PRACTICAL and I don’t want credit card debt…but what if I never get to see Italy?
I think we all get hit with these thoughts and feelings once in awhile. If you are a fan of MyBizzyKitchen, go over to her blog and send her some good vibes. I’m sure this is a really hard time for her and her family. My heart goes out to them. Hug your loved ones.
What you said was perfect, just beautiful. I’ve come to believe that life is a fine balance. The older we grow, the more we are able to find that harmony.
That’s good to hear, Megan. Balance is good, hope to have that mastered some day…
It is true that these events really make you examine your own lives more closely. I feel so terrible for Biz and for anyone that loses someone they love.
It’s good that you filled out those papers. Have you also discussed with your parents these issues and make sure they have them as well (their own and copies of yours).
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Thanks, Lori. I know you were a big Biz fan, too. My heart just hurts for her.
Yes, once we get the official copies we’ll be giving the people who need it copies.
Abbe@This is How I Cook
Very good post Lisa. It gives us all something to think about. I love Bizs blog too, and it was a shocker. Just shows how important it is to live each day to the fullest. I think Biz does.
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I agree Abbe, every day to the fullest…So sad.
I feel horrible for Biz – after reading her post on Monday I knew that the next time she shared with us would be sad.
My husband and I have never done a will – I know it’s awful but I just want to live in avoidance. In the summer a friend of ours lost his wife very unexpectedly and Chris has been on me since then to get the will done and he wants to increase his life insurance.
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I guess I didn’t realize how serious it was for Tony. I kept thinking things would improve. So upsetting.
Glad you guys addressed some of those topics. Like you, it’s sometimes easier to just avoid things like this. Glad guys talked.
Big hugs from here.
I don’t think anyone on their deathbed wishes they’d been lazier, but I bet they regret not seeing the world. We also need our health so I don’t think anyone should regret working out unless it’s a choice over spending time with loved ones. Clearly there’s no right or wrong way.
Everyone should have a will and directives and life insurance. It’s actually pretty selfish not to. It’s not that hard to be a grown-up. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but I know of too many bad situations bc people acted irresponsibly with their lives.
Thanks lady. Yes, you make a good point. I work out, I eat healthy to be a healthier person and live longer. Sometimes when you are stuck on the elliptical, wishing you were somewhere else it’s easy to think negatively about that.
Yes, agreed! I’ve had life insurance through work at the last few jobs I had. Having a will and naming an executor is important. When the time comes, not having someone named to be responsible for things just adds more stress to family members…
This has always been a difficult topic for me. Brian and I have discussed it over several occasions, and it never gets easier. Remember how I mentioned that we were going to drive our car until it would no longer start? We finally took it in for repairs. I am a huge worry wort, and one of my biggest fears involved Brian getting in an accident in the early morning because the car wasn’t in good shape. Fixing the car has given me peace of mind, but I will always worry.
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I hear ya on that. I am a huge worry wort too. It’s the anxiety. I have anxiety over things I can’t control. I worry about Michael on his bike all the time. 🙁
Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Lisa. I need to get a will in place as well. We’ve been fortunate to have amazing friends who would have taken the best of care of our children – I’m grateful they’re adults now and it’s not so worrisome. Now I just don’t want to leave a mess for DH or the kids to have to untangle should something happen to me.
I am sad for Biz, and agree that you just never know from one day to the next what may happen. This fall, at my school job, we came in one day and learned that one of our substitute teachers who had been in the classroom the day before had a massive heart attack and died in the night. She was in her early 40s and had a student at our school. It was just such a bolt out of the blue and brought home the idea that each and every day is a gift, and there are no guarantees. I’m sure my family rolls their eyes at how often I say “I love you!”, just in case they are the last words I get to say to them. Morbid, huh?
Not morbid at all, that’s wonderful. I’m sorry to hear about that teacher. It’s even harder when it’s someone so young!
Hi Lisa – I’m an avid Biz reader too and was so sad to learn of Tony’s death. Going off of Carbzilla said as far as working out, it is important no matter how guilty it may make us feel at times to put ourselves on our to-do list. Whether that’s taking the time to workout, saying no if you’re overcommitted, asking for help, etc. I can’t imagine Biz has any regrets about how she spent her time, at least I hope not. We all need some me time too – it can’t all be about being a Mom and wife and daughter and sister and employee, etc.
Last week a 38 year old woman in our community died suddenly, massive heart attack, leaving behind 4 boys. It does make you put things in perspective.
I so so so feel for Biz as well.
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I do too. 🙁
Thought provoking post— I’m most challenged with the “have to / shoulda” versus the “want to/ just for fun” dilemma at the holidays. Everything in life is such a tenuous balance— I search for a healthy balance each day…….
Healthy balance is the key I think.