From Grief to Triumph For My Hero by Heidi

The following letter is being shared verbatim with permission of its author. A story of profound grief with the courage and strength to move forward and ultimately triumph personally. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with you, Heidi.


Hi Lymphie Strong–

I needed to do some soul searching. As of the weekend before the last, when I had seen a post reminding the group that we have until August 24th to complete the summer challenge, I thought… “The last few months have been quite an emotional roller coaster and a rough ride. I’m not going to make it. I give up. Not worth counting the number of activities I chicken scratched down quickly over the past months on a note pad, because I haven’t been as focused like I’ve been in the past with other challenges, and guessed I was probably under 15 activities anyway (it just really “felt” that way) and I wouldn’t make the deadline to meet twenty-seven activities. I pushed the notebook aside, sold myself short in light of the roller coaster, and told myself I’ll be better motivated for the next challenge, so just let it go, move forward.

Even as I pushed the pad aside that Saturday, I had a few painful days last week because of the change in barometric pressure, the humidity, and the rain heading our way. I continued to journal activity no matter how small or how much was done just to be accountable and because logging activity is a good habit.

Throughout last week, and over this weekend especially, my thoughts began to change. I told myself you didn’t give up. You did the best you could with what transpired. Yes, the last 8 weeks have been tough, but I told myself I shouldn’t be giving up despite the emotional roller coaster: My dad being hospitalized twice in June with pneumonia; being told by the hospital the second time around that we were losing him and to say our goodbyes over Father’s Day weekend; dad bouncing back a month longer and sharing a special Fourth of July with him… just me and him; having the feeling, a sense, that everything was going well that he kicked the pneumonia, and that we’re going to be blessed with having him for a few months more was my outlook; then 12 days after having such a great day with him, the family was called because my dad was having difficulty breathing; sat vigil with him that day and the next two days, and we lost him on July 19th. The days after were nothing but a whirlwind.

My dad’s passing has left me numb. It’s still a bit surreal for me with time seeming to be moving too fast since his funeral, which has left me not being able to focus on myself or managing the lymphedema daily. My emotions have gotten in the way of that.

But, as I read a post shared by Lauren last Thursday, a Lymphie Strong Inspirational Group member, a poem entitled “I Think It’s Brave” (written by Lana Rafaela), it put a thought in the back of my mind to not to give up. Words, affirmations, and mantras, are more powerful than you realize at times, and at times they can hit you straight in the heart and deeply affect one’s outlook on things. This poem did that for me. It encouraged me to get up in the following days and to attempt to redirect all that grief, or even a small part of it, into something positive; something positive for myself.

As I took some time to be still and quiet in my thoughts yesterday, I know my dad would have wanted me to keep moving forward and especially take care of myself. The grief isn’t going anywhere anytime soon because I was very close to my dad, but I need to begin to start taking more time to focus back on my needs of moving the lymph routinely again. Grief is like stress and even extreme temps in relation to lymphedema. It impacts your body.

So I took that note pad out and started counting the activity I completed since the summer challenge began. To my surprise, even though I wasn’t routinely walking every day, or moving the lymph daily with a variety of activities, I did something. Not as consistent as I would’ve liked it to be, but it was something. And “something”, is not “nothing”. I realized that I actually hit the 27th activity day. Wow. I couldn’t believe it! It wasn’t as much activity as I’ve done in past challenges, and I have felt the reprocussions of doing less activity, but it boosted my “Move That Lymph” morale that I completed it. “I DID IT!”.

Now as we enter the final week of the challenge, I told myself there is nothing preventing me to keep going until the very last day. I lost some belief, motivation, and confidence in myself over the last month, and was ready to contact you on Saturday to tell you that I wasn’t going to meet the deadline, and remove my name from the participant list. But, now, I’m happy I took the time to count the days of activity I did complete among my chicken scratch notations. Simply knowing I completed another lymphie challenge, lifts my spirits and has me motivated to work harder on the next challenge.

My next goal is to go above and beyond what I normally do, possibly including a new activity to keep myself motivated, and not just do it for myself, but to complete the next challenge in honor of my dad. He’d love that! He would want me to keep going and not want me to struggle with managing the lymphedema. It’s what will keep me moving forward and to challenge myself to do more.

The next one is for you, Dad!

Heidi R.

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