Running for grief

I wanted to start a blog so I could write about something I love in a humorous, interesting way. Sometimes, though, life gets in the way and makes things far less funny. So, this is a non-funny post about how running is helping me deal with death.

My grandfather passed away yesterday. I count myself lucky that in my 24 years on this earth, I’ve only lost a few people I love. The flip-side of that is that I’m not yet used to the idea that someday, we will all die. So, even though I’ve known for awhile that my grandfather wasn’t doing well, his death still hit me like a ton of bricks. I was at work when I found out, and I couldn’t stop crying (pretty embarrassing in a small office, especially since I’m both the youngest employee and the only female). Mercifully, my boss let me leave early.

I was in a daze on the T back to South Boston, but I knew that I needed to run. I laced on my shoes and set out, but I left my phone and watch at home — I didn’t want to count the miles or listen to music, I just needed to fall into the pace.

I was gone for about two hours, but who knows how far I ran. I stopped a few times to cry, and once to dangle my feet into the water. I alternated between sadness for my loss, and happiness for my grandfather. I spent most of my run trying to grapple with what it meant to die, and where (if anywhere) my grandfather’s spirit and energy is now.

Most days, running feels like a selfish act. I run for myself, and for my own happiness and sanity. But yesterday my run felt like the best way I knew of remembering and honoring my grandfather’s life. Running is weird like that — a workout can feel like something I have to get through, or it can feel like something that’s keeping me afloat.

The point of my run yesterday wasn’t to make me happier — I didn’t want to feel happy. Sometimes a run is the best way to meditate and come to terms with human sadness, and life, and death, and continuous change.