RUNNING & GRIEF:
A Transformative Experience
by Lynn Keane
Lynn Keane is a speaker, author, former broadcast journalist and passionate advocate for suicide prevention and mental wellness. She has spent the last decade educating the public about the devastating reality of people in crisis and suicide.
Web: lynnkeane.ca Canadian Running Magazine: "Running Through Extreme Grief". CBC "Campus" podcast episode: Youth Suicide Prevention. TEDx talk: ‘We need to talk about Suicide Prevention’ | Lynn Keane | TEDxYouth@Toronto
Extreme events often precipitate major change in our lives.
This transformative experience provides us with several options. Do we choose despair and become immobilized? Which I experienced. Or do we slowly, with the benefit of time, choose to see the sliver of light at the end of a very long tunnel that can provide hope and allow us to feel something other than pain? Ultimately, in surrendering to the pain I was able to see the light, experience joy and seek a higher purpose in life. Movement was monumental in my healing process.
I still remember the day my life changed forever.
Shock and overwhelming sadness invaded my body.
All of the emotions connected to grief were coming at me quickly.
There was no order to these emotions — and absolutely no order in my life. The foundation that we’d built to support our family of five was breaking apart in thousands of tiny pieces.
"As I worked through my grief I know that running sustained me through the hardest days of my life. When we push our body, we challenge our mind — gathering strength and fortifying ourselves for life."
Navigating this new space, I leaned on my family and reached out to professionals for the tools necessary to survive great loss. Experiencing trauma at the level of losing a child allowed me in time to tap into an inner reservoir of courage that I didn’t know I had until I needed it.
As I worked through my grief I know that running sustained me through the hardest days of my life. When we push our body, we challenge our mind — gathering strength and fortifying ourselves for life. Running and triathlon have served to strengthen my spirit, allowed me to survive trauma and find a greater purpose in life.
What is lost can be reclaimed in different forms. With a broken heart, I knew that I had an important message. I began sharing my son’s story through writing, speaking, media interviews, events and a TEDxYouth Talk, “We need to talk about Suicide Prevention.”
I spoke openly and honestly about our lived experience so another young person might see themselves and reach out for support. And, as a long-time marathoner, I continued to run. I found solace in continuing to put one foot in front of the other.
My son encouraged his family to live in the present moment. I am eternally grateful for his teachings and the gift that is this one mind and body.
For further reading on this topic, we invite you to read the feature article "Running Through Extreme Grief", by Brittany Hambleton in Canadian Running Magazine.