Death and Grieving in the Digital World

Death, grieving, social media, smart phones… These things have been on my mind lately. On June 15, 2014, Father’s Day, I was on my way to family brunch with my dad, my father in law, my husband and son. On the way, we received a text message that a close friend had passed away. Our friend had been sick and in declining health, and we were on the “notify” short list. My friend’s husband had been texting close friends to keep us informed. The remainder of the drive was quiet and somber. My son was too young to understand why I was suddenly crying.

That day crosses my mind a lot. I miss my friend. And, I keep thinking back to that time and how quickly she had gone from doing ok to being stuck in a hospital bed at home and unable to speak. It struck me again today as I got a Facebook message telling me of another friend’s untimely passing. The message didn’t strike me as badly as it did another friend who thought it was horrible.

So, here we are… Once upon a time, a phone call would have been the only method, and not long ago, a phone call would have been the preferred method. I don’t have a strong opinion either way of notifying someone by text message. It’s fast, perhaps a little less painful than having to talk about it. But, I think it’s social media that causes me the most heartache (perhaps almost literally).

Once someone dies, their social media accounts live on. Facebook, for me, is the best example of this. I get birthday reminders, I see people posting on a deceased friend or family member’s wall… Sometimes, it brings good memories. Sometimes, it brings back grief and sadness.

I’ve always viewed grieving as personal and used to find it jarring to see the Facebook posts. I mean, you are sharing with a lot of people – assuming that person’s friends. Maybe even friends of friends. Maybe it’s public. In a way, it feels like I should look away. I shouldn’t be partaking in someone else’s pain. But, then, it occurs to me that it was intended to be shared grief. That can be cathartic in and of itself.

I recently read a post by Umair Haque about pain and the myth of positivity. I liked the message. When you have pain, you need to acknowledge it. You need to understand it. You can’t push it down… It won’t go away by magic. Your pain can be transformative. It can change your perspective and make you a different person. “Don’t try to stop your pain. Your pain makes you you.” While this may feel tangential, it goes back to the pain of grief, the pain of missing someone. Pay attention to your needs. Grieve in a way that is meaningful to you. Let your pain help you become better and stronger.

For today, I’m still in shock. My friend died 2 days ago. I can’t imagine what her family is going though. I can’t imagine what her 2 young sons are going through. And, at some point, Facebook will remind me of this and I’ll go with it.

Stay healthy!

I saw something cool… But, you’ll have to trust me

This morning, as I was on my regular 6:30am bike ride, I saw a gorgeous sunrise. The sun went from purple, to pink, to orange over the course of my ride. But, you know what? You’ll have to trust me. I didn’t stop to take a picture. I just rode and enjoyed the view. I was totally in the moment and it was really nice. 🙂

Sometimes I think you really just have to do that. Be in the moment. Whether it’s enjoying a gorgeous view or spending time with family/friends. I feel like we get so caught up in social media and posting the cool stuff in our lives, we forget to enjoy it. Or maybe we want to project a certain image to the world or to our friends.

the-present-moment

Don’t get me wrong. I post my fair share of pretty pictures! Maybe more than my fair share. But! Every now and then… Just kick back and enjoy. With all of us dealing with more and more stress, I think you can benefit from enjoying a moment or a view. I am also a proponent of unplugging every now and then. I don’t have to answer every email immediately. I don’t have to respond to a Facebook post within a few minutes. I guess what I’m really trying to say (in a horribly roundabout way) is that it’s ok to occasionally be in “BRB kthxbai” mode. 🙂

Stay healthy!

Workouts & Injuries (& PT)

I’ve neglected my blog for a bit now… Mainly because I’m frustrated with a knee injury that I can’t quite recover from. I really enjoy running and I’m supposed to be training for a half marathon next month, but I can’t run more than 3 miles. At the 3-mile mark, my knee starts to hurt. And, it’s not a “you can run through it” hurt – it’s sharp pain every time my foot lands.

While I’ve added more information about my current woes below, here are my key takeaways:

  1. See a doctor when you need to. While many injuries do get better on their own, keep tabs on your body and heed its warnings. If you aren’t getting better, seek help
  2. Don’t be afraid to try other activities. While I had no plans to get back into biking after a very long hiatus, that’s where I am. And, it’s allowing me to continue exercising while giving my knee a break
  3. Strength training is important, injury or not. Do it. Trust me!

I’ve been relegated to biking, which made me mad at first. I started biking begrudgingly… Because I had to. Now, I’m a month in and am starting to enjoy it. With this knee situation, I think I’ll need to continue doing more biking, so I have started to look for a proper road bike. That, in and of itself, is kind of fun. 🙂

Road bikes!

Road bikes!

With the bike, I definitely get to go further. And, faster. I’ve also gained a bit more perspective on sharing the trail. As a runner, I am continually frustrated by cyclists who whiz by very close or who don’t warn when they pass. And, don’t get me started on the pairs or groups who take up the whole trail and don’t care about you even when they see you coming. As a cyclist, I acknowledge that not everyone is paying attention to their surroundings and you have to watch out for them. I warn every time I pass, whether it’s a walker, running, or other cyclist. It feels all to easy to end up in an accident.

I also begrudgingly went to the doctor, who recommended physical therapy. I have been doing that for 3 weeks now and I am starting to feel more positive about recovery. The physical therapist is helping me build up leg strength. Not just in my knee. He’s focusing on my hips as well because they can help stabilize my running gait.

It’s not easy. And, I did go on a 3-mile run this morning. It went well. No pain. While I am definitely planning to participate in next month’s half marathon, I’m not sure if I’ll be running or walking. I am hoping to come up with a run-walk plan that will pan out. I am also looking forward to getting back to my trail running – much more interesting scenery. 🙂 So, onward and upward I suppose.

Any tips on recovering from a knee injury? I’d love to hear them.