To eat or to exercise my grief?

July 12, 2017

To eat or to exercise my grief, that is the question.

At least, that has been my question for the past year and a bit. At first, I ate it. Totally ate it. As in, ate every little bit of grief that I had, for two. And then I had this positive change of mindset, and randomly decided to hike 40kms (29 miles) and just exercise the grief right out of me. And then 40kms was a whole lot further than I thought it was, and I went back to work, and the dog decided to lie down (literally) every time we reached 20kms.

So, I decided to give eating another go.

This time, instead of dumplings I turned to chocolate. Chocolate, with its proven antioxidants and serotonin releasing magic would surely do the trick! But alas. I just got fat, and developed a bit of an addiction.

So what now? How to resolve this torturous dilemma? Underlying both approaches was a deep desire to rid myself of grief, to just be done with it via one way or another. Worst case scenario, to be able to carry on in a secure sense of denial. Enough of it popping up whenever it felt like it and making a fuss. Something had to be done! As it turns out, I appear to have been asking for the impossible. And ironically, for something that I may not have actually wanted.

To completely shed myself of grief, would mean that my son had never existed. They are inextricably linked, and I cannot have one without the other.

It is through this process that I am connected to him for every second of every day, and for that I will always be grateful. So rather than removing my grief entirely, what I have actually been after is a better way to manage it.

I’m learning that grief is like any other part of me. It needs to be fed and nourished, but it also needs to be made to get off the couch. It is so important to care for yourself, to tune in to where you are at and what you need at any given moment.

Sometimes it’s a good cry, other times a deep and meaningful with a friend, or just as likely, some official time-out surrounded by peace and quiet.

I am slowly learning to nurture my grief.

I am trying to stop being afraid to feel it, and trying not to let guilt consume me when I slip it a sweet treat every now and again. By the same token, my grief needs to do some work.

I’m learning to test it, to push it, to step outside of my comfort zone when I’m feeling brave.

I try to smile and laugh, and imagine my grief smashing push-ups as I do. The healthier my grief becomes, the happier my relationship with grief will be. So next time you chuck on your runners, consider packing some chocolate for the journey. After all, life’s all about balance.

  • Erin Hill

    Erin Hill is mother to Carlin, who was diagnosed as 'not compatible with life' at 21 weeks gestation. She lives in Victoria, Australia, with her partner and two step-children, and writes through her stories of the day to day trials and tribulations of life after loss. You can also find Erin on her blog.

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