The question of silence

sean o'malley

{photo source}

Sean O’Malley, the creator of Cardio Coach, first appeared on my old blog in March 2007  ~ Cardio vs Weights. I’ve mentioned him in posts no less than six times. Alongside Tom Venuto, he holds the position of being my internet boyfriend.

Apparently I once said “he could be reading the phone book and I’d work up a sweat!”  In the past few weeks I’ve listened to him ask me whether I’m a lion or a gazelle now I’m back in the gym doing his interval training MP3s.

Today I found out that Sean O’Malley passed away suddenly on Sunday at age 40. His memorial service is on Friday. 

I cried. An entirely inappropriate amount for someone I’d never met. I feel like I’ve lost a friend.

The unsettling thing is no-one is saying what caused his death. People keep asking but there is only silence from his family and friends. No-one has mentioned an illness or an accident.

It breaks my heart because I think he might have committed suicide. He was a forty years old, the same age my husband was when he killed himself. I know I’m jumping to conclusions. It’s what we suicide widows do.

Did Sean O’Malley take his own life last Sunday?

Please god, tell me I’m wrong …

Sean O’Malley was a vibrant, kind, giving, warm and wonderful man. He was gorgeous, fit, healthy and truly loved. Losing such a brilliant man leaves the world a darker place.

Whatever happened Sean … please be at peace knowing you touched my life and the lives of thousands of others. We’ll miss you.

Update 2 April 2012

This is the note left on his Facebook page by his sister Colleen. This is one time I wish I was wrong.

So it’s one week since I flew down to Florida after receiving a phone call I hoped and prayed I’d never receive at 7:30 that Sunday morning.  Although I asked my Mom as she sobbed through the phone what was wrong, and immediately asked where Dad was, I knew deep down it was Sean.

For those of you who didn’t know, Sean struggled for many years with a disconnect between who he thought he was and who he truly was.  Although Cardio Coach was his dream, for the past few years he couldn’t believe that voice on the earphones was actually his…  He battled mental illness since his late 20’s (and perhaps before based on some information we learned this week).  Despite the demons that plagued him, he managed to inspire so many people.

Those of us (family and friends) who knew of Sean’s suffering did everything we knew possible to help him – trust me – from finding the best doctors, to experimental and alternative treatments, to providing him with spiritual support, to giving a safe place to retreat whenever the depression would hit, to dropping him off on the Appalachian Trail almost two years ago on his birthday – April 12th –  so he could try to find some glimmer of hope, some reason to live.

For the past two years, he spiraled into a deep depression and like so many others who have faced similar battles, could have won an Academy Award for his performance.  Even my parents and I couldn’t read him the past few weeks, but it has become apparent from the conversations I’ve been having this week, the letters and emails I’ve read, that Sean had made his choice weeks ago, although not from a healthy state of mind.

Please know that Sean’s legacy will not end with his death.  As we put more puzzle pieces together and share his and our story more, we know that we are not the only ones who have experienced similar situations.  No matter how ‘taboo’ mental illness and suicide has been in the past, it is apparent that a transformation is taking place, an awareness growing for the importance of helping others find peace, comfort and love as they work through mental illness and suicide in their own lives or in the lives of those they love.

I would appreciate any insights and wisdom that any of you have to share that might help us better understand what we are experiencing and what next…  I would also love to connect with those who have seen behavior changes following a concussion, as we have been exploring how repeated concussions from contact sports affect mental health.

Although Sean didn’t believe he had the right or even the ability to call himself the Cardio Coach or stand in front of anyone as a coach anymore, I have no doubt that the man you all knew was truly Sean O’Malley – the Cardio Coach – my baby brother.  He was, and always will be a hero and inspiration to so many of us.

With love and thanks to you all,

Colleen & the Cardio Coach family

p.s. I apologize for the FB posting, however it is the best way to share these words and to continue to bring awareness to the legacy of Sean Michael O’Malley, our Cardio Coach.  I also want to extend thanks to so many of you who were there for Sean throughout the years.  Know that he loved you, and there is nothing… NOTHING any of us could have done different, said different.


About KatieP

Embracing my midlife sexy while exploring modern love & relationships • Devoted to all things beautiful • Master of Arts in creative writing & non-fiction writing

22 thoughts on “The question of silence

      1. You do know I meant something worthwhile to cry about NOW after reading your post. I re-read it and thought, “oh God, it sounds like I’m saying you were crying over something not worthwhile.”

  1. I have to admit that the same thing is in the back of my mind. Especially since his sister, when making the initial announcement on facebook, said that he passed away at home without adding “of natural causes.” I realize his family doesn’t have to say anything, but the fact that they are not is making us all worry and wonder. Someone on video fitness forum said something to the effect that:
    If a health problem took him, then it made her want to take more care of her body.
    If an accident took him, then it made her cherish each day with those she loved most.
    If sadness took him, it served as reminder that even the most dynamic and seemingly happy people struggle with darkness.

    In any case, Sean will be dearly missed.

    1. Thanks Natalie — If sadness took him, it serves as reminder that even the most dynamic and seemingly happy people struggle with darkness. — this is so true.

  2. Oh my God Katie, he was my ‘internet boyfriend’ as well. That is so sad. I just loved his cardiocoach series. I was about to get back in the gym next week and bring Sean out of hiding again. I’ve looked at other internet HIIT and its nowhere near as motivating as Sean, and that voice in my ear….. So sad. I hope he is at peace.

    1. I’m wondering how I’m going to be able to listen to his voice telling me how awesome I am without bursting into tears now. Seems there will be crying in the gym …

  3. Katie it is extrememly grounding when we find ourselves feeling such grief for someone we have never met. Makes one think about all the lives that we touch by our actions… directly or indirectly.Powerful motivation for us on many levels.. to tread lightly and legacy we can be proud of.

    The not knowing is unbearable in cases like this.
    But what is worse..

    Knowing that someone in their prime [with fitness levels we all aspire to have] can drop dead just like that? Scarey thought.. VERY scary. Moi? Borrowed time??

    But is it more scary than the alternative?

    How many of our family, friends, neighbours.. in fact all in our circle of contacts.. battle daily with the ‘black dog’ nipping at our heels. How many of us have NOT been touched by depression or indeed suicide? If it wasn’t such a taboo subject would it still have the power to kill. Would more people be helped? A very sobering thought.

    I feel deeply for anyone battling with the grief associated with losing someone before their time. Big hug Katie..
    Carpe diem… there is no tomorrow..

  4. I just found out this horrible news today. I was going to take a run by the river this morning because I’ve been “down”, and Sean always lifted my spirits….made me feel I could do anything. But, it was too chilly this morning. So I worked out to a DVD at home. I went online to read up on other DVDs and found his sister’s facebook posting about him by chance. I feel so badly….can’t stop crying. I LOVED this man…..I, too, don’t know how I will be able to listen knowing he was in such pain.

    1. Hi Paula — It’s all so tragic and sad. I know how you feel — I still can’t quite believe it myself. Sending love and light your way xx

  5. I just found out about Sean last night and I can’t stop crying. I also loved him. He kept me motivated and made me feel that I could do anything. I have no idea what I will do now. I don’t think I can listen to him without breaking down!

    1. Joanne, I’m sorry this is all so fresh for you. A few months on, I can listen to his MP3’s without crying but they still make me incredibly sad.

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