Many people think those who run marathons and whatnot are crazy for wanting to push their bodies that far. But Cat Dunn runs for charity to grieve.

I have been running for charity for many years. Ever since my uncle died. My family is large and we have grown apart over the years but when I think about my childhood, I remember parties and gatherings, involving grandparents, cousins, aunties and uncles. They are fun, happy, energetic memories. Memories of times that sadly have not been repeated in my adult life.

Childhood memories

I remember a lot about my Uncle Ralph. My favourite relative. The man who slipped me a sly fiver for sweets and made me feel loved and included, even as a young child. He had a great smile which lit up his eyes. He was fun and caring and the real life of the party. My dad was happier around him. Everyone was happier around him. He brought the light into the room.

Then he died. And the light went out.

As our family had drifted apart over the years, it was difficult for me to grieve his passing. I felt that I didn’t have the right as we were no longer close – I hadn’t seen him in years; what kind of niece did that make me? My dad had lost his brother, my aunt had lost her husband and my cousins had lost their dad. My grief could never compare to their devastating loss.

How #running for a charity helps me grieve Click to Tweet

After his funeral, I still struggled to mourn him. I didn’t feel like I could talk to anyone. I just kept my feelings bottled up and carried on with life. Then I found out about Cancer Research’s Race for Life. And I realised there was something I could do to honour him. Something small, but something all the same. I signed up and dedicated my run to him.

Running for charity

It was a wonderful experience – women of all ages coming together in pink outfits to run, jog, walk or skip 5k or 10k or even take on a muddy obstacle course, all in aid of kicking cancer’s ass!

For the first time I felt lighter and more positive.

I knew I had found an outlet for my pain – I could remember him and help a charity at the same time.

Maybe the money I raised could help find a cure and stop other people going through such hard times. Running for charity helped me grieve.

Now I take part every year. And I run for my uncle. I’m not a great runner – sometimes I get out of breath and I’m never going to be the first over the finish line. But the point is that I am there. I am getting involved. And, hopefully, I am helping.

Looking to the future

Every year, during the warm up, we are asked to take a moment to think about our lost loved ones.

It is in this minute that I feel closest to him. I remember everything about him – his smile, his laugh, how much I miss him. In this moment, I allow myself to grieve for him all over again. I hold a stranger’s hand and shed a tear. Then I make my way to the starting line and I run. I run for him. For his memory. For my family. I run for the future.

Does running for charity help you grieve for somebody, or deal with a something hard? Let me know your story in the comments section.

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