28 days

It’s 28 days since I lost my best friend and soulmate and the question I’m answering the most at the moment is, ‘How are you?’. Which is totally the appropriate question for people to be asking. It would be weird if they pretended nothing had happened!

But … I’m starting to feel like a broken record (as I’m saying the same things over and over). Also, I deeply crave conversations that are not about me at the moment. I very much want to hear about the mundanities and everydayness of other people’s lives.

So, given I have this platform that allows me to reach a large number of the people who care about me, I thought I’d offer an update. One that answers all the main questions and concerns everyone has and will hopefully allow people to start feeling comfortable telling me what’s going on in their lives again 😊

Kelly, how are you going?

The best way I can describe it is I feel I’m an actress in a movie, playing the part of heartbroken, grieving wife. I’m fully invested in the part – feeling all the feelings and working through the process. But there’s still a part of me that thinks I will be finishing the filming of this movie soon and I’ll get to go home to Ant at the end of it all.

Another way to put it: I’ve had no trouble accepting he died, but I’m having a lot of trouble accepting he’s not coming back.

My predominant feeling right now is sadness.

But mixed in there is …

Immense gratitude for the gift of having Ant’s love in my life for 23 years.

Despair that there’s no way I can do life without him.

Hope that maybe I can with the help of all the people in our lives who cannot fill the hole he has left behind, but collectively, can certainly plug it a little.

I’ve also – surprisingly – been able to find joy in the sadness and darkness. Watching my little brother marry his soulmate. Watching my sister run our businesses and do a fist pump every time she solves yet another impossible problem. Watching my kids become closer with some of my oldest and dearest friends. Watching Jaden’s indoor soccer team win their first ever game. Watching the sun rise over the back fence each morning.

So, while I’m really sad, I’m also grateful the sadness isn’t (currently) stopping me moving through the world and being a functional human being.

Are you getting any professional help?

Yes, I have a psychologist who was helping me work through some anxiety stuff last year. Now she’s helping me sit gently with my grief.

What have the four weeks since Ant died looked like?

The first week was a blur of organisation ahead of the funeral and wake on the Saturday followed by the Wildcats on the Sunday. (A huge thanks to the Wildcats for everything they did to show their support for us. It meant the world to me and the kids.)

The second week, I gave myself permission to lie on the couch, cry and not talk to anyone. And I did that for three days. (Thank goodness for the tennis – it gave me something to stare blankly at.) For whatever reason, when I woke up on Thursday morning in that week, I felt functional and was able to start doing functional things. So, I did.

The third week I focused on work stuff – trying to help my sister sort out a few things with Swish Design and Swish Online; touching base with my Swish Publishing clients – while also helping Jaden get his mind right for two days of basketball trials. (He did so well and made the team he wanted to make. So … yay.)

The fourth week, the kids went back to school. I was really looking forward to that for the normality and routine of it, but that week has been perhaps the most difficult so far. Ant and I both work(ed) from home and I’d forgotten how many little rituals we’d built up around those workdays. The kids, however, have benefited from the normality and routine, and being with their friends during the day.

Are you ok financially?

Yes, thank you.

Are you doing any exercise?

Yes. In the first two weeks I couldn’t do anything because my heart hurt too much. But after that, whenever there has been another adult sleeping over at my place (and there has been someone pretty much every night), I’ve gone for a run in the morning.

Are you working?

I had to let one of my writing contracts for 2019 go. And I’m not taking on new clients currently. But I’m continuing with the remaining writing contracts and am slowly getting back into them all. Huge thanks to all my clients who have given me the time and space to come back slowly.

The journal I was working on with my friend Darren last year has also gone live so that is something to smile about.

What are you going to do with your house?

Stay here. Yes, it’s much easier to notice Ant’s absence here and that is painful. But we know everyone in our street, they are looking out for us, it’s close to the kids’ school and many of their friends live close by. Also, this was our forever house. We both loved it so much. I couldn’t imagine leaving it.

How are the kids?

They are ok. They miss their dad badly and when they think about him, they feel sad. And angry that he’s been taken from them. But they’ve been kept busy with friends, family and sport, and are also seeing a psychologist to help them work through their grief.

Are you getting the space you need to grieve in a healthy fashion?

Yes. Our friends and family have been amazing in this regard.

I live far away from you. Is there any point sending my love and support from afar?

Honestly, it might feel like you’re not doing anything helpful, but every message of love and support we’ve received has helped more than you can imagine.

How are you getting through each day?

Ant would be proud because the main management technique I’m using is to ‘live in the moment’. (Ant was quite literally the most ‘live in the moment’ person I’ve ever come across and had spent much of our 23 years together trying to get me to do the same.)

Whenever my mind starts casting ahead to next week, next month, next year and I get overwhelmed by how on earth the kids and I can possibly do life without him, I bring myself back to the moment and have conversations with myself that look like this:

What are you doing right now?

Driving.

Where are you going?

To the shops.

What are you getting from the shops?

Some fruit for the kids’ lunch boxes.

Etc etc.

And that is very literally how I am getting through the days. Minute by minute. Hour by hour.

Is there anything else anyone can be doing for you right now?

I feel like we have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to support. Parents from school have created a roster and are dropping a meal over every day. We have someone taking care of all the paperwork involved with the various insurances and management of Ant’s estate. My amazing sister is running two of our three businesses with my mum’s help. One of my best friends took five days out of her life to come and stay with me. And that’s really just the tip of the iceberg.

There have been countless kindnesses shown over the past four weeks – big and small – that have made things easier for us at this terrible time. So right at this moment, we are good. But if I can think of anything someone else can help with, I will make sure to ask.

In fact, here’s one thing. At Ant’s funeral I shared his 6 rules for life, knowing full well there were more than 6 … but 6 were all I could think of at the time. I’ve now had time to expand on and edit them properly. I’d love you to read the expanded version here.

Comments 52

  1. Thank you for writing this. We love you and are here for you guys, even though we are on the other side of the country. I look forward to boring slash amusing you with many tales of our every day shenanigans when we catch up in a few months and to the kids picking up where they left off. xxx

  2. Kelly, this was so lovely of you to post. I have been thinking of you and your kids constantly and yes, I do get angry that someone who was loved so much and was such an amazing person could be taken away so young. It brings tears to my eyes but then I think of you and everything you much be coping with and I realise my pain is more for you and your loss. I know our friendship was mostly because of your ties with David and Michelle but I want you to know I care very much for you and your kids and everything you will go through over time. I also think of his parents and other people who loved him so much. Ant’s death does come with a lesson to live life fully and to love and care as much as possible for what we have now because we never know when we may lose it. Heather and I would love to visit with you when you are able to but no pressure as I am fully aware of how many wonderful people you have in your life. You are inspirational and Ant would be so very very proud of you. xxxxx

  3. I don’t have the gift of writing, but I want you to know how much you’ve touched my life.
    I started listening to you and Carly during a tricky time in my life, you’ve both been a breath of fresh air.
    The love between you and Ant was clear. Beautiful. You were also very realistic about it! I loved you talking honestly about hanging the laundry! It’s exactly how I feel about the laundry hanging process! I think of it often.
    I also appreciate your tips on writing a book – my first (and only) will be published in June and I’m so grateful for your tips on the straight and curly podcast.
    I am so sorry for your loss.
    I am so grateful for your sharing how you are doing.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  4. Dear Kelly

    thank you for sharing how you are doing with us. I have been thinking of you a lot – you are incredibly resilient. The way you are coping now shows the strength of yours and Ant’s relationship.

    One thing I’ve realised is that so much love is born out of tragic circumstances – I am glad you and the kids are surrounded by love.

    Please keep writing when you can.

    Carly

  5. Thanks for sharing. I love your honesty. I’m sure this blog post will be beneficial to others, especially those who are currently paralysed by grief. It sounds like you have some very supportive people around you. Thinking of you and your family xoxo

  6. Thank you for taking the time out during this period, of what I can only begin to imagine is beyond hard, to share with us your voice, your insight and your wisdom. While my heart breaks for your family having to go through this I’m so encouraged to read about how you’re all handling it and to draw from your wisdom advice and examples for how to live life. I hope you find peace in the new normal and realize how strong you are and how thankful we all are for you sharing your life and love with us all. Once again your words and example have helped me to see and rejoice in the good in the world, even in the midst of sadness. Sending you a virtual hug from a non-hugger type. Big love to you and yours!

  7. Kelly, I am constantly amazed at your ability to give to us – your friends, readers and followers whilst YOU are grieving. You continue to give us reassurance that you are ok, and the kids are doing ok. I am immensely proud of your strength to share with us and let us benefit from Ant’s life lessons – what an amazing and generous legacy for Ant.
    I hope to see you soon, and I can be sure to bore your with life mundane dramas…….renovation stress!

  8. Thank you so much for sharing. It’s good to hear that there’s been an immense amount of love and care sent your way. I’m really deeply sorry to hear of your loss – I’ve been following you on and off for quite a few years now (you probably haven’t even noticed my sneaky following of you :)), and my partner’s name is also Anthony. Just sending some love and hugs from my little apartment. Thanks for sharing the 12 rules of life – will read them through :). You’re right, it’s really incredible and a bit surprising how sadness and joy can co-exist.

  9. Thank you so much Kelly for sharing how you’re doing, without glossing over the bumpy bits.

    We’re just about due for one of our walk and talks if you’re keen. I’ve got your request for hearing about the mundane covered!

    You’re a truly special person with so much love surrounding you x

  10. Kelly – firstly, during such a raw time to share such meaningful words says so much about how strong a person you are. I’m certain these words will be helpful for so many and hopefully gave you some comfort as well to write it all down.

  11. I think my ‘how are you doing this week’ text landed five minutes before you hit publish on this post, Kel :).

    I’m SO glad you’re writing and finding a way to live in the moment. I’m glad your ‘village’ is wrapping its arms around you, and the love and light you’ve always reflected into the world with such generosity are finding their way back to you.

    Ant’s 12 rules are words to live by for sure. Thanks for sharing them.
    Here’s to us living up to them as best we can each day. Together.

  12. Hi Kelly,

    My heart goes out to you and your family. Sending lots of love and hugs. I admire you greatly and have enjoyed being part of your community.

    Thank you for everything you have done for everyone I hope that you can gain some strength from all of us.

    I’m truly sorry for your loss.

    Gail 💞💞💞

  13. My heart breaks for you as I read your words. My husband is my best friend and soulmate as well so I can only imagine what you are feeling. I wanted you to know how incredibly strong and brave I think you are and how your words have hit me at the most opportune times these past few years…. when I was at life’s cross roads you were there for me. I hope you can find some solace in that and I hope you and your family find strength in the love that will continue to surround you from the amazing person they called dad and you called your soul mate. God bless…

  14. Kelly my heart goes out to you and your family. From many of us whom you’ve helped virtually and across miles, warmest wishes and thoughts. Kylie

  15. My heart goes out to you, your kids, and family, Kelly. Sending you my deepest sympathies. Such honest and powerful words articulating your grief, you are such a strong and beautiful person. One step at a time ❤️

  16. Kelly,
    Thank you for writing this. You and your wonderful children have been on my mind but I hesitated to contact you as I thought you’d be getting lots of messages etc. please know you are all in my thoughts and prayers XX

  17. Take care, Kelly. Such a big and awful thing to happen to you. Taking every day as it comes – good advice. So glad you’re surrounded by lovely people – but you would be. You’re a generous person yourself.

  18. Hi Kelly – My heart goes out to you and your family. Your demonstration of strength is incredibly impactful. I thank you for sharing a bit of yourself here and wish for continued strength and healing. Blessings to you.

  19. Thank you for sharing how you and the kiddies are going. My heart breaks for you, but so glad you are doing ok. I think of you often. Take Care xox

  20. Have thought about you so much over the last four weeks and yes, wondered if love from afar helps at all. You are so brave and generous and courageous to share all your thoughts and feelings, with the world at large, about how you’re coping with life right now, but in doing so you’re helping others too – in so many ways. Thank you for sharing. May you continue to find the strength to ‘do life’ without Ant, and may your healing be continuous as the days go by.

  21. I am staring at this blank little square wondering what to write, and I don’t know what to say other than I have the best memories of laughing to you and Brooke McAlary when I was painting away in my fibro shed a few years ago. There was something crazy about your banter, your effervescent take on life. I learnt how to see the real stuff and tried to focus on that, rather than get bogged down in trivial things that seems so big at the time. I know that you’ll steer your children through the next few months in a way that allows them to take some of their Dad’s energy and his life dreams and his loves, and empower themselves with it in some way. You’ll make sure that YOU get looked after too (please!) and let him nudge your own dreams along when you feel like not persuing them. I’m so glad you have a tribe around you, and time to be alone when you need it too. I’m glad you have your writing, and I feel privileged to be reading about your feelings at such a fragile time in your families life. Thank you for sharing, and for being you. PS I used to love when you’s say ‘So Brooke….’ as it meant we were in for a treat, about to be launched into a nutty gritty question it topic! Naomi Crowther, Long Beach, NSW

  22. Thank you for sharing an update Kelly.

    It’s good to know that you’re doing okay and have a lot of support. I’m glad you’re able to get a few runs in as well. 🙂

    I look forward to continue to hear how you’re going. Xx

  23. Kelly, I am amazed at how much joy you’ve been able to find in your grief, tragic as these circumstances are. Lots of love and well wishes from across the border in Adelaide. Xx

  24. Kelly, thinking of you and so glad you have so much support around you (of course you deserve that support because you have always given it to others). Ant would be so proud of how you are processing your grief, sitting with sadness, moving through with the strength you have always had and remembering the fruit for the kids at the shops! Our everyday mundane news – we’re in the throes of renovating our investment property and there’s a whole lot of backbreaking work, dust and endless jobs just when we think we’re getting closer to finishing. I had managed to book myself in for a 7-day intensive yoga training (before we’d committed to the reno), so that was a nice distraction. I would love to be able to guide you through a healing yin yoga session, but I hope your morning runs are helping. Much love. X

  25. Kelly, im so deeply saddened by this news of you losing your soulmate and wish you, your family and extended family all the very best. You are incredibly stong with so much to share with the world and im in awe of how you are continuing to do so now. I hope somewhere in the coming weeks you manage to smile and remember some of the good times to get you through this super shock. Keep asking for that help too.. its what you would tell all your readers to do! All the best thoughts and prayers are with you.

  26. Kelly , I’m so pleased to hear the practical help , support and love is still coming in droves . I have thought of you so often as I’ve exercised early in the morning hoping you had somehow found a way to get out for a run – I know how much you would need it and I know how cathartic it was for me when dealing with a major life trauma years ago.
    I had even wanted to message and offer to come over at stupid o’clock and sit with your sleeping kids even though we have never met! P.s standing offer if you ever run out of helpers 🙂
    You are amazing and I wish you continued strength in learning to live alongside your grief . Big hugs , Jocelyn xx

  27. Kelly, it’s good to hear from you and have an update. You have been in my thoughts this past month. I can imagine how you are feeling, but I’m sending tons of love from afar.

    I got up at 2am (Kansas time) to watch Ant’s service. It was really beautiful and I appreciated you sharing that with us. I am wishing peace and comfort and healing for you and the kids.

    Much love, Kristin

  28. Dear Kelly — My heart goes out to you and your family. I lost my father when I was six years old and I did not understood then what happend to me. I can feel with you and I am sure your soulmate will be always with you, every second. Warmest wishes and thoughts from thousends of miles away – all the best from Switzerland. Roland

  29. Dearest Kelly,
    I’m so sorry to hear this tragic news.
    I feel so sad for you and your boys.
    first sadness, then in time, bit by bit the healing!
    one must grieve though.
    throwing oneself into their passionate work is helpful.
    these words seem superfluous.
    sending much love mxx

  30. Thank you for this beautiful and honest post Kel. So many lessons in here for how we can all live our lives in a better way. You’re in my thoughts every day. x

  31. Thank you for sharing your journey Kelly from all of us sending far away thoughts of support. I hope your writing during this time is as a comfort to you as it may be for others. Grief is such a personal journey but sometimes honest sharing can help others to find some sense through the sadnesses they may be struggling to deal with. I am so pleased to hear that your village and people are surrounding your family with support. Biggest thoughts.

  32. Dear Kelly,
    What an amazing soul you are.
    Truly a raw reservoir of insight and humility with the most eloquent of words throughout your post.
    I sit in amazement of you and how brave and honest and inspiring you are during the days you are walking through right now.
    Loads of love and gratitude to you, your children, family and your friends.
    We are thinking of you and wishing you the best of support, kindness, love, gentleness, space, and little sparks of comforting joy.

    Warmest regards
    Toni

  33. I’m so glad you wrote this – you are on my mind quite a bit. I get a real sense that you’re making your way through this in the way that’s very true to you. I’m so grateful you’re sharing your experience of it, I genuinely don’t think we talk about death enough.

    As for us, well we just got a new kitten and she’s crazy. Super-cute though, and very soft, and brings our total animal count to 6. The girls are happy at school and I think I’ve finally adjusted to being a parent of school kids now, and not little ones any more. That was an interesting adjustment phase. I’m still trying to get through the first draft of the book I started in 2016, but it’s like one of those insane mirages that just get further away the closer you try to get to it. I think autumn has come early to Melbourne and I’m in a full coat and boots today in the lashing rain. The leaves turned orange and started falling off a full two weeks before they normally do. Trump still makes me angry and Twitter still makes me laugh. We have gymnastics this afternoon and tacos for dinner tonight. I’ll raise a glass to Ant, and to you on your first 28 days x

  34. Like those before me in the comments section, I truly thank you for writing this post Kelly. I think of you all the time and I loved reading the expanded version of Ant’s rules. As an action person myself, I love Ant’s acronym (ATNA). Nic x

  35. Thank you for writing this Kelly.

    I’ve followed your work for many years and your writing has always helped so many. I hope that at this time your writing continues to nurture you as much as your words support others.

    All the very best in a challenging time to you and your family.

    Emma

  36. Thanks Kelly. Its encouraging and helpful to read how you are coping, and finding ways to move forward, and also interesting to read some of the amazing insights from Anthony too.

    My brother Tim Phillips played against Anthony when he was with Mandurah Magic, and I remember when you ran the New York Marathon? some fundraising thing at The Saint… vaguely.

    My wife and kids left me about a year ago, so I have had a lot of trouble coping with that, although they are still alive I’ve barely had any contact with them, and I remember in the first month after they left feeling very similiar to some of the things you have described… For the first week or so I couldn’t run more than a K or so because of the hurt inside.

    Things gradually improved and I got to do my dream race (100km in the Blue Mountains a about 3 months later), its still hard now but I have got better and better at pushing aside the things I don’t need to think about all the time, and getting on with rebuilding my life, and learning to enjoy the new opportunities of life that are on offer.

    Sometimes I still need to think through certain things and have a few hours of “alone time” (easy with ultra running, as plenty of opportunities for thinking time while training on a long run especially, which I am sure you would be familiar with with your triathlons and marathoning experience), sometimes I need to cry, and oftentimes I find a good chat with friends about almost anything (oftentimes its better if not about the things that are painful to think about), or praying, or reading the bible are very encouraging options…

    I like what you wrote about the “Forever House”, that is something you can hopefully always hold onto. I remember wanting to stay in my rental house because it had family memories attached to it, and wanting to keep the pillow my wife had left behind…
    After a few months I started to move on from that a bit, but it took awhile.

    I saw the picture of your children at the Wildcats thing in the newspaper I think, and I thought that was very good that it was marked like that. Very appropriate.

    Anyhow all the best with working through it all, keep running, and hope there is many moments of joy ahead, despite the sorrow and grief.
    All the Best
    Jonathon Phillips

  37. Thank you for writing this..

    It has puts my mind at rest for you my friend and is an honest and open view into what is a traumatic time for so many people and one which yet is often hidden away and brushed over by most.

    I always knew you were strong and now I know you are also brave.

    So much love for you Kelly, so much love x

  38. What’s an amazing person you are to have the courage and ability to put this together. It was very lovely to read.
    I don’t know you or your family but I was in the car parallel with you guys on that day. It really was a horrific accident and its something that will live with me Forever.
    I’m blessed to have been unhurt but devastated for your family that it ended the way it did for you.

    I often think of you all. And the Images of the day are very fresh in my mind.

    Thank you for writing this and know your in the thoughts of a stranger who will always remember the love of your life.

    Take care
    Xxx

  39. I really appreciated reading this update. You are in my thoughts and prayers often. I’m so glad that you have such a good support network to help you navigate your changed world.

    I very much enjoyed reading the “12 Rules for Life” post as well. Such beautiful gems that showcase Ant’s wisdom, but also your own wisdom to identify and describe so eloquently.

  40. You don’t know me but I am a long time Smaggle follower and last year a straight and curly follower. I have been following your journey and feeling so much for you. Hormonal me just balled the whole way through reading this post. You are doing amazingly and I send you my deepest sympathies and positive thoughts for your future x

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