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Grief On The Run by Julie Zarifeh

This book explores the power of human resilience in the face of personal tragedy. New Zealander, Julie Zarifeh shares her story of tragedy, grace and survivorship.

In 2017 Julie loses her husband of 30 years, Paul, to pancreatic cancer. 16 days later her eldest son, Sam, is killed in a rafting accident. Prior to these tragic events, the family also had to weather the pain and stress of the Christchurch earthquakes.

It would be easy to feel like you just want to crawl in bed and pull up the covers, but Julie chose to work through her grief by getting active.

Once the dust had settled, Julie booked herself on a plane to Europe to complete the 800-kilometre-long Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. Around this time she also completed a 450-kilometre cycle tour around Sri Lanka as a way of raising money to buy bikes for underprivileged Kiwi kids). If that hasn’t left you feeling exhausted, she also entered the New York City marathon.

These excursions gave Julia the space to process her experience of the grief journey. Of course, she completed these trips in a pre-Covid world. Post-Covid, her experiences would be much different. She would have to confine her travels to local settings.

My only criticism of this book is that it is a bit too “Eat, pray, love” which is aimed at the privileged middle-classes. Many people, at this time of life, would simply not have the time, funds or circumstances to grieve in this way. Never-the-less, even if you can’t relate to the way that Julie has dealt with her grief, there are lots of suggestions and advice about the grief experience that are insightful and enlightening.

I did ‘enjoy’ the book (if that is the right word). It made me stop and think about how I would handle the same situation myself. While I wouldn’t necessarily be quite as active as Julie, I think getting out and moving would be a useful way to process grief.

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