On April 11th, it will be seven years since Madeline’s death or, as I’ve come to learn the term: her Angelversary. You wonder how you could get through that first week, then the first month, the first year, birthdays and holidays. You get by because life goes on, and to think otherwise is not an option. I do it for my kids, family, friends and, to a lesser extent, myself.
Admittedly, I’ve changed a lot since Maddie’s passing. I have less patience. I can go from happiness to sadness in about 30 seconds. I’m reflective. I care a lot less about myself. I will fiercely protect anyone who threatens the safety of the ones I love. I don’t put up with shit. I don’t take good days for granted. I don’t waste my time worrying about frivolous things. I’ve been touched by the generosity of many and let down by some that I thought I could lean on. I’ve seen the efforts of a few that make the difference to many. I’ve seen how many suffer in silence and crossed paths with even more who live inches above the ground daily. I recognize my shame associated with dealing with my mental illness.
For me, everything is relative to my loss of Maddie.
I realize that few can fathom my world, let alone live inside it. I share a bond with a small group of bereaving parents. Its effects cripple some, and some are transforming so much good powered by the pain from within. The common factor is we are all in pain. One’s ability to function and contribute to society is a byproduct of how heavy our hearts feel on any given day versus letting our sadness become all-consuming. I’ve seen how music, movies and pictures can reduce me to tears without hesitation. I feel alone more times than not. I miss my boys when they’re not with me. I know they have been greatly affected by the loss of their sister but are happy for the most part. Zac and Sawyer are championing a cause they are passionate about. This is partly due to their loss of Maddie, and some because they don’t want another kid to endure what they both have gone through. I’m comforted by knowing they’re not experiencing the same pain that I feel daily. I wouldn’t be able to tolerate them enduring a fraction of the pain that Maddie had experienced. I know she wouldn’t have wanted that either.
This week, I had a coffee with someone that had lost her son to suicide more than two years ago. We met not because the other required support, but to share, relate and be truthful about how we were both doing. We knew one another’s situation without speaking a word. We could be completely candid about our ongoing despair, sense of loss, and acceptance that we’ll never be truly happy again. We both look at holidays and birthdays much differently now. We’re not as much fun as we used to be. We both avoid social situations. We both prefer a more spartan existence. We’re both broken, and sadness creeps into our world continually.
To the outside world, we remain focused and relevant.
We share what we need to share. We avoid situations because we don’t want to be asked how we’re doing. Telling the truth would only make people regret having asked the question. A searing stake is being stabbed in your heart every day, but you don’t want the pain to end.
That’s my connection with Maddie. You’re afraid to look up while in a coffee shop because you don’t want people to see the tears teeming down your cheeks. You excuse yourself to go to the washroom more often than otherwise because you just had a memory that jars you upright. You go for a walk with your eyes looking down, combing the sidewalk, feet in front of you because you don’t want anyone to stop you and ask if you’re alright.
I started writing because it helps me cope, but it also helps me avoid telling people how I’m doing and feeling. As much as people are genuinely concerned about how I am doing, honestly, sometimes it’s easier to say I’m fine. The only people I’m frank with are those who have endured my same loss, and they don’t need to ask how I’m genuinely doing.
If you know someone that has experienced tremendous loss, don’t accept that they’re fine, because they likely aren’t. We don’t answer this way to protect ourselves, but instead, to avoid telling everyone else how we truly are feeling.
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Through the bankruptcy of his first business, a strong balance sheet means nothing unless you can get the money out of your business and into your hands personally, tax efficiently, and creditor protected. Chris helps and coaches business owners to avoid a similar fate as he suffered in his first business.
Through several clever strategies, he illustrates how these little-known vehicles can get money out of your business efficiently, build your corporate brand and create a legacy through charitable means to help make a meaningful difference in the lives of others.
Also, he has seen the impact that mental health can have upon success within your business and your life and how the two are on a constant collision course. When Chris became aware that Entrepreneurs struggled with their mental health at more than twice the rate of average adults, he realized he wasn’t alone and made it his ambition to understand why and do something to help. His business, The Finish Line Group, aims to help support the entrepreneur’s financial, philanthropic, and emotional needs.
Chris’ Why Statement remains, “To openly communicate the lessons learned from my past so that others will thrive in their lives, minimize their setbacks and leave a positive and lasting legacy.”