Running through grief

Just over thirteen years ago I lost a baby girl. Her name was Samantha. She was simply born too early and died after only living for five short hours.

That was a difficult time for me and my husband as it was our first pregnancy and we had hopes of raising a family. As a long time runner, I found that I coped best with the loss and pain by running. It gave me time to think about my experience and sort out my feelings.

It’s difficult to describe the pain you go through with this sort of loss to someone that has not experienced the grief of a little one and the hopes and the dreams for that child as they disappear never to be fully realized. Death can be so final and no matter how much we want that little one sometimes we just can’t have them now.

For most people the grieving process is a life-long journey of coping and despite what people may say, it’s nothing one “gets over.” It simply is something you learn to live with.

For me, I tend to believe we have experience in our lives to teach us something; to help us in some way. The experiences I’ve had, and the long road I’ve traveled to bring four other children in this world, has taught me a lot. It has taught me to appreciate those little ones that much more. It has helped me have sympathy for others who have experienced this grief. It has helped me appreciate the miraculous gift of life, and it has taught me to appreciate my body.

The human body is amazing and I am so thrilled that I have the opportunity to swim, bike, run and be fit everyday. After my first loss I immediately got pregnant again as soon as I got the go ahead from the doctor. There was a lot of worry and stress that went along with that pregnancy but the most difficult thing I have ever experienced was the 10 weeks of flat-on-my back bed rest.

Yes, it was more difficult than a marathon or completing an Xterra triathlon. It was rough for me not to be able to get up and take a shower when I wanted to, or cook for myself. But the most difficult thing for me was not being able to exercise and run. Running helped me manage stress and at the time I was experiencing a lot of stress.

So, somehow I learned to cope. I learned to try to look at the positives of the experience; I was still pregnant. I could get pregnant. I was able to experience the joy that every soon-to-be-mother feels when she experiences movement from the life inside of her.

All these years later I am now back to my before-pregnancy-life where I can run and exercise like I would like to. I love it! I love to be fit and enjoy taking care of my body and exercise. I love to be able to cope with everyday stress on a run and feel my mind clear. I often think of Samantha on my runs. As I said before, when you experience a loss, you never “get over it.” You learn to live with it. You get to a point where you don’t feel guilty for being happy anymore.

There are still bad days when I cry and change my schedule to just reserve the day to thinking of her and count my blessing, but for the most part I don’t want her to ever be forgotten by others. When I was holding her in my arms for the final moments of her life carefully placing my index finger over her heart to make sure she was still with me, I made her a promise.

I promised my little Samantha that I would never forget her and I never will. I want to honor her memory and all those little ones that have passed on too early. This is why I have created the Race For Grief 10 K run & 2 mile walk event to be held June 30, 2012 at West Bountiful Park. Registration is available on active.com. Last year was the first year the event was held and it proved to be a wonderful experience for my family and for many families and friends that want to honor their little one and help others. Please join us for this charity event raising funds for the Utah SHARE and Caring Connections programs. To learn more visit RaceForGrief10k.com.

In loving memory of Samantha. You touched my life, I will never forget you. Love Mom.

Lora Erickson is a running coach, mom and competitive triathlete and runner. She can be reached through her blog www.blonderunner.com.

One comment

  1. Ann Foster

    I’m so glad I found your blog. I’ve lost 3 babies (twins and a singleton) via miscarriage in the last 4 months. It has been an emotional toll on my heart, soul, mind, and body. I have started to run (for the first time in my life) to run THROUGH my grief, not to run from it.

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