Saturday, June 5, 2010

Teaching the Untouched

I saw the promo ads for the new series "Losing it With Jillian," a knock off of "The Biggest Loser." I've never watched The Biggest Loser but the ads for the new show caught my attention. Jillian goes to the homes of overweight families and moves in with them for a week. She helps them "restore" their unbalanced lives with healthy meals and menu planning, exercise and so on. In the ads, there appeared to be a family coping with the loss of the dad/husband. So I made a note of when the show started.

Tuesday's show did not depict this family but I was still glad I caught the episode. This was a working class family from the East, around Boston I believe. The daughter and dad had already gone through gastric bypass surgery with the daughter successfully keeping the weight off but not so for the dad. The mom was also overweight and the son interested in shaping up, although not as overweight as his parents. The daughter was getting married and the family all made 6-week goals for the wedding.

Having never seen The Biggest Loser, I wasn't prepared for the drill-like, boot camp tactics of Jillian. But even more surprising was the big family secret that came out in the hour. I was really impressed with this family and just fell in love with them because of the great family love and loyalty they shared with one another. It turns out that the first child born of this couple, a son, died only a month after birth. This became a taboo topic between the family but it was clear how the events of some 22 prior years had been literally destroying them.

The unresolved and unspoken grief that persisted over the years was evident and could be detected in the relationships the family members shared with one another as well as their overall family dynamic. There was some initial healing with the simple acknowledgment of the underlying pain. The family went on to make great strides in their overall fitness plans with the dad losing almost 50 pounds and the mom 30 within that short 6-week period. The wedding was absolutely beautiful and a fitting beginning for a new life for all of these truly lovely and courageous individuals.

I am curious what will be exposed on Tuesday's upcoming episode with the widowed mom. It appears that she is holding on to old belongings which I also struggle with (two storage sheds of my husband's and parent's old belongings). I am hoping to be inspired to break with the past and move onward into the future.

But more importantly, I hope one of the benefits of airing last week's show was that it helped those unaffected by grief to gain a little glimpse into the havoc and pain resulting from losses, even years following their occurrence. This family was very brave and did far more than become healthier themselves - they helped educate, they faced their albatross and hopefully inspired others to do the same, and they promoted sympathy toward those stuck by grief. The ramifications of their strength and courage pour out into the Universe.


  1. I was left with nothing but what he'd given me when my Nelson died, because we were not married yet (well, substitute 'never' for 'yet')...My immediate, instinctive reaction was, "If only I had more of his stuff! Some sweaters! Some old holey socks!" ...7 months later, I think it's a double-edged sword. I *am* a packrat.

    Thanks for your blog...

  2. Thanks for commenting and my heart goes out to you. Like you said, the stuff can be nice but also a hindrance. Take care and keep in touch.

  3. It's been nearly five years, and would you believe, I just put a bunch of bags in my car with Ralph's clothes for the Salvation Army. I hadn't kept all of them, but I had more than I realized. I did still keep a few things I didn't want to part with. Would you believe I still have his driver's license?

  4. I am also a packrat, but cleaning out my mother's house I realise you are just keeping stuff that your children will have to find a place for.
    Keeping just a few things that have real meaning, without having to give energy or space up for, that is a challenge but well worth the effort in the long run. It has taken me 2 years, but all his clothes are now gone except the jacket that he always wore. I wear it on occasion when it is really cold and it gives me comfort as well as warmth.