Finding Strength From Loss: What We Can Learn From The Marathon Goddess
Julie Weiss ran her 52nd marathon on Sunday, ending a tremendous year-long effort to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer. Behind Weiss, pushing her along, was the memory of her father, who passed away from the disease in 2010. Like a gun at the starting line, his death was her signal to get up and go with everything she had.
And she gave it everything. The 42-year-old mother of two, who also holds down a full-time job, raised over $175,000 and ran over 1,300 miles. For the last year, Weiss ran one marathon each week, and gained national attention as the Marathon Goddess. For obvious reasons, people turned to her story for the remarkable feat of running that much and raising that much money on her own. What Weiss might not have predicted, is that she's made herself into a role model for absolutely everyone.
Loss punches your gut with a dull feeling of helplessness and loneliness. It is painful and confusing. It's then when we need someone to look up to. I can only imagine how devastating it must be to lose someone who raised you. It's exhausting to think about. Weiss's marathon of marathons is a terrific example of how we can find strength from this kind of pain. It's okay to be sad, but before long we have to make sure the tragedy doesn't break us. It certainly didn't break Weiss. In fact, it did the opposite to her, or rather, she didn't let it.
She even said that she looks to the pictures of her father and others who have died from pancreatic cancer as motivation.
“I look to their picture for strength and I imagine their spirit running with me,” she told NBC.
Her unbridled gaze into her father's memory is inspiring. Keeping memories alive is the best way to move forward--both literally and figuratively speaking in this case. Repression may be easier, but it stunts your growth and depletes the energy that could be spent on finding happiness in spite of sadness.
This goes for loss of anything: a partner, a pet, a friend, a job, or anything that occupied a large space in your heart at one point. If it mattered enough for you to miss it, you should keep a corner of your mind and your heart reserved for it, even after it's gone. Like Weiss, who used the memory of her father to keep running, the memory of your love lost could help you do something good for someone else. Memory is best when kept warm and fondly, rather than with sorrow and bitterness. It's unfair that Weiss's father died five months after he was diagnosed, but I don't think she would have run 52 marathons if she spent all her time ignoring the past to spare her feelings.
Sometimes, the best way to move forward is to look back.