There’s no great way to title a depressing blog about how grief has effected your life physically I have learned. So I’ll just jump right in.
In the days, weeks and months after losing Dad, I turned to my usual source of stress relief: running. Though, I was confused. The body I felt on these runs did NOT feel like the body I took on runs before this. This body felt like they smoked 3 packs of cigarettes a day and had never worked out a day in her life. It felt like gravity was working overtime to try and keep my feet cemented to the ground. It felt impossible to run one mile, let alone 2 … or 5. I was so confused and frustrated.
That was, until I saw my Chiro for my Applied Kinesiology appointment. I told her, “I’m exhausted. And running is SO hard, like I’ve never experienced anything like this before, it’s worse than getting back to running after hip surgery.”
“Katie, your body is extremely worn down,” she said. At that moment I guess I realized that other than the emotional implications of losing someone close, it can be so so physical. I should have expected this, as I’ve gone through moments of extreme stress and experienced exhaustion, but nothing that prevented me from running. I reflected back to the days, weeks and months that had passed between Dad passing and that appointment.
Those days, weeks, and months were consumed by emotions and experiences I don’t want anyone else to have to experience. My brain attempted to make sense of it all. My body went into survival mode. My soul felt crushed and lost. Everything felt out of control, but in that moment I remember realizing there was one thing I could do to get through this. And that was to set boundaries.
I’ve never been great with boundaries, but at this moment, nothing was more clear. It was the only option. I had to make conscious decisions on how I would either fill up my cup, or how much I would choose to give to anything or anything at any given moment.
Work was the only obvious place to set aside energy for. From there, it was and still is a minute by minute decision. I have cancelled on friends, chosen my bed over outside, yoga instead of running, delivery over pickup, an equal amount of chocolate over smoothies and smoothies over chocolate (praise), trash TV over reading something useful and the list goes on and on.
For those moments, there is grace and patience. I only know this, because others have offered it to me and have also reminded me to offer it to myself. Grief is a rollercoaster that those around you experience without signing up for it. While I still cringe when I cancel plans or simply have to say “I just can’t do it today,” I know that it is always the right decision. For me. I also have begun to see that there are glimpses of light. Today was proof.
Today, it’s been 6 months and some-odd days since losing Dad and I went for a pain-free run for the first time. 4.1 miles of painless running to be exact. How freeing. It wasn’t an emotion free run, or a sorrow free run, or the fastest run, but I do know one thing. It was a lighter run. Free of some of the weight I carried previously. I know there aren’t tears in heaven, but I know if Dad could have cried happy ones over me today, he would have.
The weight will fluctuate, as it did in the hours that followed that freeing run. I became overwhelmed and had to say no to something I wanted to do to support someone I love because it felt like too much to handle. And that’s okay. I will celebrate my decision to recognize my capacity and say no. I know one day, I’ll face that same overwhelming situation just like I did with my run today and Dad will be looking down with happy tears and say “I’m so proud of you.” But I think that’s for another day.
Love & Stuff,
PS: If you look closely at my Strava picture, you will see the flowers that reminded me of the Lorax on my run today. It was cool.