The Benefits of Running To Deal With Grief And Bereavement

I wrote the following post on my running blog and wanted to share it here if it helps anyone.

One of the most popular themes I’ve had discussions on between my posts and in the chat hours from the UKRunChat community on Twitter has been the benefits of ‘chatting’ to my late parents while out running. Indeed, I received an email from a friend on Friday who told me her friend had mentioned she talks to her Dad while out on her training runs, knew that I had mentioned doing it in my posts, was hoping to share it with her friend but she couldn’t find a specific post. When I checked back myself, I realised that I mentioned it in several posts rather than one and so I decided to write a post on the subject in the hope that helps others.

In April 2013, my Dad was diagnosed with stage 4 Oesophageal Cancer. This was a shock to us all as he hadn’t been ill, just had a few symptoms that we thought would be treated with medication. His deterioration was rapid and passed away in July the same year. I had found running helped me deal with watching him slowly fade away. After he passed, I made a point of talking to him as I ran to thank him for everything he taught me, for getting me into running and also to help ease Mum’s heartache and the pain felt by the rest of the family. When he was alive and well, we used to meet regularly for coffee and chat about my races, football and everything else and so it felt like I was keeping that going. I looked forward to our weekly ‘chats’.

In August 2015, our lives were turned upside down when I received a call from my brother asking me to get up to Mum’s house urgently. She’d suffered a massive heart attack and he’d discovered her. While we had got used to Dad’s journey over time, and had been a blessing when he passed, this was completely the opposite. We weren’t just dealing with grief but also the shock as she hadn’t been displaying any obvious signs that this was about to happen. I took to running again to try to process what had just happened. When things like this happen, we naturally assume that x must cause y and if we had responded sooner then it may not have happened. I came to the conclusion though that sometimes there is no reason behind things like this and it’s unlikely either my brother or I could’ve prevented it.

It can be daunting to tell people that you talk to your deceased parents when you run but I was pleasantly surprised to learn from comments on posts that others do the same and from more people on UKRunChat that they’ve done it and do it regularly. The common feeling has been that we’ve all found it to be therapeutic and has helped us all deal with our respective loss.

If you’ve lost a loved one and found yourself talking to them when you run then I want you to know that you’re not alone. If you’re grieving for a loved one and are still affected by the loss then I would highly recommend talking to them while out on a walk or a run. We can talk to other people but we also need that space to process our thoughts and a long walk or run is the perfect place to do it. Running gives me that space to clear my head and I like to spend a few minutes chatting to my parents on my long runs and always feel better afterwards. It has certainly made a difference to me.

If you have any questions on this subject and don’t feel comfortable with commenting below, feel free to visit my website (see link in sidebar) and contact me directly through there.

2017-09-11T06:50:48+00:00September 10th, 2017|

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