I shared in a previous article how the summer for 2022 was a particularly challenging one. My mom passed away after a bout with Pancreatic Cancer. It was swift and I was sad, feeling down and certainly feeling the stress of not being there for the family. In truth, living over 8100 miles away adds to the stress as you start to feel the distance even more.
The summer was a non-event for me, around the time my mom was getting a myriad of test done to uncover what was causing the severe discomfort was she was having, I ruptured my Achilles Heel. It was July 3rd – Dads v the girls basketball game – Dads were up with the score at 10-14. Apparently if you are carried off the court, and you are the reason your team cannot continue, then you are the losers. The surgery, moonboot, lack of mobility was all compounded by the diagnosis and consequent passing of my mom mad me sad, frustrated, and angry. The compounding effect exposed varying emotions from sobbing to blatant anger. I had a short fuse either side of those emotions. Close friends and loved ones are supportive and understanding when we go through times like these. It is the strangers and unfamiliar folk we pass on a day-by-day basis that have no concept of what you are going through, and this too I found to be a challenge as I often felt the need to suppress my feelings.
I have no idea what others are going through. In the book 51/2 mentors, Doug Stuart talks about finding mentorship around you – this shirt was my mentor in that moment.
Here is what helped me deal with the stress, anger, and frustration over the last several months.
- Let people you meet know – If I am dealing with all this “stuff” and may response to your greeting is “I am fine how about you?” then I am not being my authentic self. This is not seeking attention; you are informing others so that they can be given the opportunity to be sympathetic to your ideas and desires. In that moment of feeling low, or sad, if I let you in on what I am feeling, you can display empathy and understanding. Do not feel sorry for me, it’s not your fault I am in this situation – my letting you know affords you the opportunity to understand why I may be curt, uninterested, or little more withdrawn than usual. The scenario plays out rather nicely. My response is along the lines of I am just okay if I am honest. Dealing with the frustration of my leg and now learned my mom has terminal cancer. It has been a tough month really. Some of the folk I have met offer encouragement and good suggestions on how they have dealt or would deal with something similar – great for encouragement and creating a safe atmosphere for others.
- Lean on your inner circle –
- Good friends – When they offer help and I need it, I say thank you. They feel valued and appreciated for who they are in their relationship with me. It strengthens trust and comradery because hard times create great friends
- Colleagues at work – My team in one of my meetings told me this “we got you Neville, there is nothing you are doing that we cannot move or get a stand in trainer for. We will make sure the business ticks along! Go to South Africa and be with you mom. It makes me know that I have love and support – loyalty increases both ways here.
- Talk and if you are sad hug – Sharing how I feel makes cry. I talk to friends and family who offer at times offer support and mostly just listen. If you are feeling super low, get a hug. I was at the office speaking to Vincent (my Twin) over the phone about my mom’s condition and my travel arrangements. As we ended the call, I was overwhelmed with emotion, walked into our office needing a hug which Kristen intuitively realized. She stood up and hugged me while at the same time reassuring me that all will be okay and that these things will take time. My anxiety reduced almost immediately and that was because a colleague had compassion and empathy for me!
- Listen to the experts – I was told my Achilles could take a s long as 1 year to get to pre-surgery levels of strength. That is way to long for me – alas doing the exercises as recommended by the physio therapist has seen me ahead of the curve. I am not running or riding my bike…I will be soon.
- Take Advantage of professional services on offer – Caryn (my wife) used to work at the airlines and instructed me to take advantage of the wheelchair services on my flights. My moonboot and post-surgery recovery means I walk slower and walking too long causes discomfort – Atlanta is a big airport. The services offered had me through the lines in no-time and got me to my connecting flights efficiently. One less thing to worry about on what has been two very stressful trips between South Africa and my home in North Carolina
- See the good in a bad situation – We laugh, and we cry – My mom was not dead, and she let us know that by how she spoke with us, and to us! She poked fun at us and made jokes about her situation that allowed us to do the same. This lifted the mood several times a day and allowed us to have – dare I say – normal conversations too. An example was when we were about to eat, drinks were being offered and my mom said – Neville’s poor leg he can’t help himself and besides, I will be gone soon so this in your opportunity to make up for the times you won’t be doing stuff for me. That moment created laughter and stimulated even more witty comments from all. In fact, the three weeks I was visiting had lots of those moments and this was a testimony to the presence my mom had in any room she was in.
We all face storms! It is not uncommon that the horrible storm over the coastline that causes damage will also bring much needed rain for farmers in-land. We may not be in the same boat; the storm does impact us all though. I know that everyone we come across has their own battles to fight, we do not compare them, we just need the tools to fight them. Here’s hoping that these ideas shared will provide some additional tools to use.
As a people’s person, you will find that Neville is fit for purpose in this industry. His focus on others allows them to grow into the person that they want to be. Neville and his wife Caryn moved to Cary North Carolina in January 2021 with their three daughters and are excited to build a successful business in the USA. To work with Neville or to just have a conversation reach out and connect with him here.