A Marathon Called Grief

September 14, 2020

I’ve never been a runner. Ok, there was a year or two in my early thirties that I ran, even conquered a few 5k races, but besides that brief stint of insanity, I’ve never been a runner. It just never came natural, or felt like much fun. 

Then, grief entered my life. Deep grief. Debilitating grief. Life-changing grief. 

That day, I became a runner. 

An efficient runner.

A consistent runner.

A dedicated runner. 

A runner who no longer ran 5k’s or 8 minute miles. 

A runner on a mission. 

A mission to outrun grief. 

Running daily marathons of avoidance, never allowing myself to stop. 

If I keep going, keep moving, keep finding things to keep myself busy, then the grief can’t catch me. Like a constant game of chase, never wanting grief to get close enough to tag me, to win, or to overcome.

Similar to scenes in horror films where the panicked person is running, desperate to save their life, desperate to run away from the pain, destruction, and devastation, I was frantically running. A run that looked like both a sprint and a stampede. Never needing to strap on the tennis shoes, for this kind of running is done in your mind, and soul, and spirit. It’s an internal dedication to never get caught by the nightmare called grief. 


You can deny it. You can pretend it away. You can run from it. You can ignore it and deflect. One day, there will be no grit left in your step, no breath left in your lungs, and no more energy to outrun it. So you stop.

And it’s powerful and mighty.

It’s consuming and unwavering.

While you’ve finally lost all of your energy for this race, grief hasn’t lost any. In fact, it has intensified with each step you took trying to leave it behind. You hit the finish line, not because of accomplishment, but because of acceptance. There is no gold medal. There is no celebratory applause. Instead, you simply gain the freedom to stop running. You gain the ability to pause, reflect, and to embrace your new life, new self, and new path. 

You can’t outrun grief. 

It will catch up eventually. 

One day, I stopped running a marathon with no end. Once I stopped, once I caught my breath, once I picked myself up and wiped the sweat and tears, I embraced grief just like runners embrace the foil blankets at the finish line. 

I let it wrap itself around me and I embraced it. Welcomed it, even. I decided to allow it a partnership in my life. Afterall, it was staying, strong and mighty, despite my relentless pursuit to outsmart or eliminate it.

Once I understood that my grief had no finish line, I stopped running a race that was never meant to be run. Grief is a journey, not a marathon, not something to be won or conquered. It’s simply something that walks with you, with each step into your future, always.

Now, I only run if something is chasing me, and the thing chasing me is never grief.

xox, Chels

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Chelsea Ohlemiller

Chelsea Ohlemiller

A thirty-something wife, mother and educator who has Indiana roots and a passionate spirit. Chelsea is a sappy romantic, coffee junkie, book collector, and person who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s sarcastic, full of jokes, full of tears, and enjoys writing most when life gets messy or complicated. In 2017, Chelsea's mother passed away. Through her grief journey, she decided to take her mother’s advice and share her writing with the world. One day she gained the courage to honor her mother's wishes and write. It turned out to be one of the best decisions she's ever made.

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