There is no greater grief than the loss of a loved one. Although a universal human experience, it can be impossible to predict how we will react in the aftermath—how our mental health will decline, how our bodies will weaken. Grief recovery is not a linear process, so how can we find our own path to healing?
This month, we are inspired to share Nicole’s story of coping with the loss of her father. Finding a spark of hope in an unexpected place, here is how she began using exercise as her medicine to “run” towards grief recovery:
Hi fit52 fam,
My name is Nicole McComic and I am from Waterford, Connecticut.
I’m an elementary school teacher for health and physical education, a girls’ lacrosse coach, a yoga teacher, and a Special Olympics unified sports coach. Health and wellness are my passions—I teach it, preach it, coach it, need it.
In 2012, when I was 17, I witnessed my dad take his last breath after suffering sudden cardiac arrest. He was 43. After his passing, I was numb and filled with the darkest sadness I have ever felt. The sadness was so heavy that I couldn’t get out of bed. Then one morning, underneath that big depressive mess, I oddly felt the urge to get outside and…go for a run. This was not something I did—I played lacrosse in high school, but I despised running and never thought of it as an activity that could actually make me feel good.
That morning, I laced up and went for a run. It was painful, but that’s just it…dealing with grief isn’t easy. Grieving the loss of my father was painful. So I kept running. It got me out of my house, out of my mind, and into my body. It was as if I was combatting my unbearable loss with transformative, healthy sweat and pain. That was the last morning I felt that deep, heavy cloud of grief.
When the world feels heavy and you don’t want to get out of bed, all you have to do is lace up your sneakers.
Those miles I ran after my dad passed saved me. The goals I began crushing were so fulfilling. I began to see my body and mind transform, creating a healthier, more confident self overall. I ran my first 5k later that year, and the next year, I ran my first half marathon. Fast forward to today, and I’ve run 20 half marathons and 4 full marathons!
I recognize now that physical fitness was essential in my grieving and healing process, changing my life in beautiful ways. Along with running, practicing yoga and fit52’s strength training have helped me cope with the lifelong journey of grief recovery. As a health and physical education teacher, I want to teach, inspire, and pass these tools on to others to change their lives. I want them to find the “medicine” in movement and the healing it aids, just like I did.
To those of you trying to find your own path to personal wellness, find what makes your soul healthy and happy. Motivation is not key—dedication is, and you deserve to prioritize your well-being every single day. Try new things, set goals, and remember: when the world feels heavy and you don’t want to get out of bed, all you have to do is lace up your sneakers.
Connect with me on Instagram to learn more about my journey. I’d love to hear yours as well.