Grieving Dad Explains Why He Does Yoga, And Touches Parents Everywhere

by Valerie Williams
Originally Published: 
Image via Facebook/Shawn Dennstedt

He shares his reasons for taking yoga classes and advice for parents

Shawn Dennstedt’s 19-year-old daughter Lianne died from a rare type of meningitis that started off as simply a sore throat. She was a sophomore at Northern Arizona University when she passed away on September 18th after two weeks spent fighting for her life in intensive care.

While working through his unimaginable loss, Dennstedt discovered that yoga helps him feel more connected to Lianne. After attending three classes, he posted to The Little Yoga Room’s Facebook page to introduce himself and share his reasons for being there. His raw words about losing his daughter and what the class means to him hit home with parents everywhere.

“I’m Shawn. I’m new. I’ve only done three classes. I don’t say hi to anyone because I’m pretty introverted,” he writes.

Dennstedt says no one says hello to him either, probably due to his large size and the fact that people say he can be “scary,” but he wanted to reach out and let his classmates know he’s there. He explains that he likes to arrive early to acclimate to the room’s heat and while waiting for the session to start, he overhears stories of everyone’s lives at home.

“So and so’s daughter is being a pain in the ass. So and so’s two boys won’t stop fighting. So and so’s husband, wife, partner, whoever….you get the idea, everyone needs to vent,” he writes. “What you probably don’t know, is that my 19 year old daughter Lianne, died 13 weeks ago while she was away at college.”

It was after hearing those snippets of typical parental difficulties that Dennstedt had a bit of an epiphany.

“It occurred to me on my drive home today, that while most people seem to be trying to escape their kids while they practice, I’m trying desperately to find mine. And I’m finding her.”

Image via Shawn Dennstedt

Dennstedt says it’s while in the quiet of yoga class that he remembers his daughter — and wishes he could see her again. “While I lie on the mat with one hand on my stomach and one hand on my heart, I remember Lianne as a baby and how she used to sleep on my chest while I lay on the couch watching T.V. I was glad the lights were turned down low the other night, so no one could see me crying.”

And here’s where the heart of every single parent breaks.

“As we close in on Christmas, I would only offer that we take a moment to appreciate what – and who – we have in our lives. I would give anything in this world to hear my two girls screaming at each other again, just one more time,” he writes.

Image via Shawn Dennstedt

Dennstedt tells Scary Mommy that yesterday marked 13 weeks since Lianne’s passing. “Monday’s are sometimes difficult,” he says. “I had expected yoga to be physically challenging, but I was surprised by the emotional blowback. For some reason I felt compelled to write.”

He says he only intended for the people at the studio to see his words, admitting that he thought the teacher might be upset he had posted it on her business’ page, but there was no reason for him to be concerned. “She re-posted it and made it public. It seems to have gone a little viral from there. That was certainly not my intention.”

Dennstedt says he’s “a little embarrassed” by the post now, but is hoping that by sharing his thoughts, it helps someone else.

His words come at a time of year where many of us are feeling the stress and pressure of the holiday season. Between excitable kids, dwindling bank accounts, and annoying in-laws, it’s easy to forget what really matters in this life.

This dad’s simple plea reminds us.

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