Just before Christmas, I lost my brother Jason. I didn’t lose him ‘down the back of the sofa’ sense – he died. This isn’t the first time someone very close to me has died very suddenly, in fact, Jason died almost ten years to the day that my mum also died of a heart attack. The reason for writing this blog is to give you a little insight into how I responded to each of their passings and it’s my hope that if I can help even one person not to learn the hard way, it’s worth the ten minutes it will take to write.
When my Mum died, I was working at Pirate FM as their Head of Creative, our daughter Ella had just been born and my Mum was visiting from her home in Spain, she died in transit on the way back. I was lucky enough to have an amazing relationship with my Mum, I adored her and she me. I was heartbroken and shocked, but as a new Dad and the only breadwinner in the family at the time, I bottled it all up and kept going. I worked harder than I had ever worked and refused to acknowledge my feelings and grief. It’s important to point out – my friends, colleagues and family were great, it’s just that I wasn’t. As with most things you bottle up, eventually they see the light of day again and it didn’t take long before I was to become very ill and was told by my GP I would require medication for the rest of my life (I’ll spare you the detail). For those of you that know me, you will no doubt be aware that I set about proving the Doc wrong, I ditched my medication and avoided the sustained use of steroids.
Fast forward ten years and to the death of my brother and my reaction was very different. Now a director in a family business with fourteen on the team, I thought to myself, “hey you better make sure you’re okay this time.” I headed straight to the GP for an MOT and true to form, they suggested I take tablets for the rest of my life (this time, for something else). Not overly enamoured with modern medicine, I have accepted their observations but rather that pills, I’ve been through a rigorous programme of lifestyle changes and been looking after myself really well.
Diet, exercise, meditation, support, coaching and love have been an amazing tonic. As I type, the sun is shining on my back, I have just had a three hour surf (it’s the weekend), a salad (yes I had a coffee afterwards, but only two a day now) and I’ll head to the gym before the day is out. Here’s the thing, my changes to how I have been looking after myself have made me feel the best I have felt since I was a teenager and they are reverberating into Idenna.
My attitude when my Mum died was one of resistance, nothing must change, keep calm and carry on. When Jason died I had worked it out – things do change and resistance is counter-productive. I have accepted the change and used it as an opportunity to look at my priorities and how I have lived my life. Before he died, I was doing too much – a committed people-pleaser, I was racing from meeting to meeting fuelled only by cheese toasties, coffee, commitment and creativity. Now I am looking after myself, hydrated, healthier and with adequate headspace to be at my best.
Jason would only want to ever see me thrive and I know he would be incredibly proud of the work I have put into feeling better. I have chosen to make sure I am well and feeling good so that I can be at my best for my family (and Idenna) who are hugely important to me. I’ll keep checking in with the Doctors as I think it’s important to listen to what they say and important to help yourself!
So losing someone you love is awful and if you let it, can send a wrecking ball through your work and your home life. The way to avoid that? Realise that you are the most important person and if you don’t look after yourself, you won’t be able to look after those around you. Accept change, there is no other choice than to enjoy the moment and make the most of the life you make.