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Core Values | Grief is not a Competition

"Grief is not a competition. We don't have to prove to anyone how much we are grieving." -

** warning...messy, confusing post coming up, don't read in the car while driving **

There were some activities I got really excited about doing with Teri. Competing in anything fitness related was at the top of the list for me. I won't forget playing tennis with her at "best friend park" when we met and beating her 6-4 even though I haven't picked up a tennis racquet in years. Losing wasn't an option for me that day to someone I just met. She eventually got me back. A few years later at InjaNation in Calgary, she pulled off a big upset on the gladiator joust:

Very slow and boring video, you can skip it if you're pressed for time

She also crossed the finish line first in the NYCRuns Big Apple Half Marathon, beating me by a few feet:

Not my best race.... can't win all the time

Core values like competition have been an important topic in some recent discussions. Maybe because I had to come up with some for my recently deleted online dating profile and got me thinking about what's really important to me. Or perhaps its because it's 2024 and people are taking a step back and thinking about what needs to change and what values are important to them. I am so curious about everyone's core values. What are yours? Lets talk about them.

On my dating profile, I chose: commitment, friendship, humility and mental health. I forgot the last one, probably discipline or something fitness related. Thankfully, Teri and I did agree on core values and was probably one of the key reasons why we stuck together through the difficult times even though we were so different in so many ways. I've talked about some of them here and there on this blog. Here were Terwin's top 5 (in no particular order):

  • Authenticity (she probably did this better)

  • Transparency (her idea to start blogging in the first place)

  • Humility (I obviously carried the load on

  • Perseverance (We can do hard things)

  • Cuteness (explains all the stuffed animals around the house and why I married Teri)

Okay it was me who came up with the last one but she agreed to it and no question that she carried the load on that one unless she was really upset at me. It is also no fun to just use core values that everyone else uses. She did think I was cute too.... here's some proof from a short video of us doing day 1 of our daily affirmation routine that relates to our core values:

"You look physically fit and cute today" - Teri

I love competition (except with board games)

One of my individual core values is competition. It may be obvious to most because of my background growing up doing organized sports and now triathlon. I really like to win. Some of this stems from being the middle child and always wanting to prove myself and finding ways like competition in sports to feel validated. Teri couldn't really relate to me in this area. She could care less about winning, except she found ways to beat me in most board and video games, which of course, drove me crazy.

She wasn't smiling because I was probably winning

Regarding competition, several months ago I started to become a bit curious about Teri's previous relationships. With all the downtime I've had, I took the time to peruse her old photos. I was seeking an unnecessary way to make myself feel better that I did a good job, at least better than the other guys. Of course I did, by default, since she married me and not them. She was actually engaged a few years before we met. She said "yes" at first, but ended that relationship a few days later and gave back the ring. I even asked some of her friends about what happened. I'm not sure what really even prompted all of this perusing in the first place. I've kind of moved on about it for now.

On my someday goals list, I want to qualify for the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. I also want to cross the finish line first in a local race. I have a long way to go and a lot of dieting to do, but I feel like I'll get there. 2024 is a great year for me to get back in great shape like I was before I met Teri.

Of course I have some not so proud moments of getting too excited when it comes to competition, especially when it happens in the spur-of-the-moment and it involves athleticism and showing off to people. In summer of 2001, I went on an Ensenada cruise with my girlfriend and her immediate family. During one of the shows, the host was throwing out prizes to the audience and I got really excited. I needed to catch one. When one flew towards us, I disregarded everyone around me and ended up diving across several seats to try to catch the prize and broke my girlfriends dads camera, as if I was playing goalie on the soccer field. It was quite embarrassing and could have hurt some people. But I did catch it and would probably do the same thing again.

Action Item for you: Please let me know if you are going on a cruise so we can hang out and I can try to win you some prizes.

InjaNation, Summer 2018

I love organizing stuff

Another value that I really care about is organization. This also causes issues when my ADHD gets me too laser focused on organizing stuff and I forget about the why and the people I am doing the work for (usually at work). When I first created my online dating profile in my late 20's, I wrote "I am very organized." This sounds ridiculous come to think about it, but I did leave it there when I reactivated my profile since I'm all about transparency and everyone should know that they're getting a great deal when it comes to organization. Maybe I should get some help on my profile next time I try online dating again. Oh well.

I've shared in previous posts Teri was a great planner and was really organized. She put me in my place, most of the time. This helped her because she didn't have the best memory. Last Christmas, she misplaced one of her folders in the house, and I happened to find it. This means another great opportunity to get fun reaction out of her:

What happened? You.

Okay putting this all together and onto what was really on my mind. It's the question my therapist asked me a few months ago after I tried to explain to him all the things I've been doing to take care of myself (Including meeting with him every week):

"Erwin, are you trying to grieve perfectly? There is no such thing as perfect grieving. It is supposed to be messy..." - Erwin's Therapist

These statements drove me crazy. I still wrestle with it and why I want to talk about it. I haven't really read about this idea of "perfect grieving" in any book. In the moment, it bothered me because of my usual desire to figure stuff out as soon as possible and grief was at the top of the list. The hard truth that there is no timeline to grief bothered me and it felt unfair and contradicted what I always tell myself and others that life is short. My instagram is erwinisneat because I don't like things to be messy. I really like to be organized. Except the garage.

Then I started to feel confused and a bit frustrated. Of course I would want to strive for perfection regarding grieving the loss of Teri. I want everyone to know with confidence that I'm doing everything right and no one had anything to worry about, just like if I were to stick to a triathlon training plan 100% to give assurance to myself that I would be ready for the race. I wish I could take a break from my normal life for a year and just write a book about this whole adventure. And train for triathlon. Maybe one day.

When people ask me, "do you think you are ready to date?" I usually say, I think so. I've put in a lot of work. But it's only been nine months. I see a therapist. I block out days during the week to do nothing. I read my bible. I've been blogging weekly about it and that has to count for something. I know deep down this no timeline thing is true. So I just take things one day at a time and hope I shouldn't really have to change any of my routines when the the right person comes along.

But why the need to "win" in grieving? What does it even mean to win or to grieve perfectly? I don't know. It could be the issues I'm still working through with my therapist from my childhood. It may be so obvious to most that grief isn't a competition and why would grief and competition even be in the same sentence in the first place. I don't know why it feels this way for me. Is it because I just like competitions and I still need to win to feel validated? Or I can't stand how grief is so messy and I want everything to be organized and planned? Or perhaps is this another way of showing indirect anger towards Teri who left all of us way too early? Or maybe I have regrets in the "quality time with Teri" department and I am trying to make it up by spending time with her through writing these blog posts. How complicated. I don't know. But I guess that's the point my therapist is trying to make. It is supposed to be messy.

And this wraps up another messy post, but least I'm proud of myself for making this a bit shorter than the other posts. Anyways, thank you for reading and don't forget to to let me know about your next cruise!

Have a great weekend!


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We should all totally go on a cruise together! Erwin, thank you for sharing. I love your messy post! Great job! I loved seeing Teri in these videos, and love how you captured so many funny memories with her. Such a beautiful way of loving her. Thanks for making me laugh with your humility and organizing stories, hilarious! You’re doing a great job with everything, Erwin.


Erwin, I totally see your Enneagram 3-ness come through here. Haha. The nature you have to win and succeed are signature traits. ;) (I’m married to a 3).

I wonder if you ever spend time reflecting on your true self and worth apart from what you do or achieve? God made you as a uniquely wonderful person. Feel free to rest in that. The fact that you can laugh at yourself and your shortcomings is a good sign! Keep up the slow and good work. Don’t be in a hurry. (Another trait of the 3). Peace.


The idea of "competitive grieving" made me lol 😹😹😹 But, seriously, I think we can feel the need to grieve "perfectly" for a variety of reasons: 1. We want to honor the Lord in how we grieve. 2. We want to honor the person we lost by how we grieve for them. 3. We don't want others to worry about us. 4. We want to head off unsolicited advice about grieving at the pass. 5. We hope that, if we can get better at grieving, we'll get "back to normal" faster. 6. We crave certainty and stability and think we'll feel more comfortable if we have more control over the grieving process. 7. We just want to get it over with because grieving is hard and painful. Some of…


I’m a competitive person in nature so I can relate how it is a struggle when it gets out of hand. I knew already what this entry will be about just reading the title cuz I know you well, bro. For me when winning serves as a core value of life, life starts to get even harder, at least for me. Regardless of where it comes from, childhood, wounds eta it’s no fun in my experience to set winning as a high core value. 😅 I‘ve started to remind myself of this, which Teri seemed to figured it out in her all too short and beautiful life, that authenticity means more than “winning” in life. I think it’s natural and …


1. Yes we actually are going on a cruise in July! lol welcome to get prizes for us! 2. It is amazing to see that from when Teri passed until now how you have grown and how your demeanor just seems “lighter.” I think your grieving is doing a good job for you. Keep at it!

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