Running in to Grief 2021
Video: 3 minutes 18 seconds
Running, like other exercise, fosters an altered state throughout the body, including the brain, the organs, the muscles, nerves, and sinews. Movement helps to invigorate and then calm the body, including the mind, helping to bring a person back to the present. Stress levels are reduced. Instead of the hangover and other costs that alternative stress relief methods and potential addictions (shopping, sex, alcohol, drugs, porn, overwork) can cause, there is a healthy and positive after effect and no real down side.
Grief is a journey. At its worst it can involve post-traumatic stress which drags a person out of the present and into a state of anxious arousal related to the traumatic experiences. Exercise can help a grieving person through some of the hard times by reducing the extremities of the stress, anxiety and depression. The shortcuts to stress relief, such as alcohol, run the very real risk of making the problem, including anxiety, even worse. In the long journey back to living in the present, running provides a bridge from a malfunctioning fight-flight response to a place where we can access our body, and a bridge to the world around us, to nature.
So we must hang on, like each precious little plant that clings to life in some unknown crevice. We must live in our precarious perch and make the most of what we have and what we have been given. We must be grateful for the patch of earth between two bare rocks that is our gift of a home. For that is what we have. And all of us only have what we have. And for that, we should be grateful. We should cherish that patch. We should nourish that crevice. For in nourishing our own little gift from the world, we nourish the whole world.
Jock Cheetham is a journalist, filmmaker and academic. He teaches news and media at Charles Sturt University. In 2018, he lost his partner, Neroli Colvin, to a rare disease, osteopetrosis, and has since experienced, explored and sought to understand grief, trauma and recovery.
Provenance: Peer reviewed submission