4 ways running can help you cope with grief

running and grief

After my dad died in May 2021, I discovered that running and grief go well together. 

But after the sudden death of my 25-year-old daughter Lucy, running has become my lifeline.

It helps me get up in the morning, and start the day. 

Mornings are the hardest. 

Because mornings are the hardest for me. When I open my eyes in the morning, it hits me like a sledgehammer every time: 

Lucy is no longer here. 

And when I realize that, I just want to disappear. 

To no longer feel the pain. 

Running helps me get out of bed. 

Running and grief. 

Do I feel like running? 

No, I do not!

In fact, I would like nothing more than to just stay in my bed.

But I know: 

'If I go running, I'll feel better.'

And that helps me put on my running clothes and lace up my shoes. It doesn't matter that I do it mechanically. 

It's about doing it. 

Tears often flow during my run. 

In that regard, I curse daylight saving time and long for early winter mornings when my tears are hidden by the darkness. 

When the sun has already come up, I feel vulnerable. 

But since I live in the country I usually have the world all to myself.

I'm alive - I'm here

Despite myself, I realize: I'm alive. While I run and cry, I notice things despite myself. Like a spider that has woven a beautiful web on a bridge. 

running and grief

A heron reflected in the water. 

running and grief

A beautiful sunrise. 

 It makes me realize: 

"I'm alive." 

 Even though it hurts. 

Once I'm home, I grab my hula hoop and meditate for 10 minutes with my Headspace app

Afterward, I almost always feel better. 

At least I got the day started.

Running and grief: Why does it work? 

Apart from my personal experience that running helps with grief, there are also several technical reasons why running can help you cope with sadness. 

  1. When you go running, endorphins are released, which provide a positive feeling. And in the case of a significant loss, they can at least alleviate the pain somewhat. 
  2. Running can provide a rhythm, an activity. Something to do, when you don't feel like doing anything.
  3. It is good for both body and mind to be outside.
  4.  If you run in a group, you can feel (hopefully) the warmth and empathy of the other runners. 

Even if you have never gone running before, I think it can help you in a period of grief. 

Use a beginner's schedule of approximately 30 minutes, three times a week. 

I truly believe it will help you. 

Running will provide you with at least 3 half-hour periods a week, where you do something for you.

You can also consider using running therapy. This involves running under guidance while receiving mental and emotional support at the same time. 

In conclusion 

For me, running is a way to keep standing, in this most painful storm of my life.

How do you feel about running and grief?


Esmé Slabbert said...

I am truly truly sorry for your loss and it must be hard, but I am happy to see that you do find some relief with your daily running. Take care
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chickenruby said...

I'm so sorry for the loss of your father and your daughter and having gone through the loss of my father I really understand how time to yourself is so important and I'm glad to hear you've found it through running. Thank you for linking with #pocolo

April J Harris said...

Nicole, I am so very sorry for the loss of your daughter and your father. I firmly believe movement - especially running - can help with so many things, and grief is definitely one of them. I am so glad you shared this. Thank you for being a part of Hearth and Soul.

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