Cycling Through Grief: At the end of April 2021, my dad passed from this world to be among the stars.
He died very suddenly, in a space of days, and in The Netherlands. He was my biggest cheerleader and best friend. Both countries were in lockdown, so I could not be with him or my mum, and to this day, I have not been with my mum or any other family.
I have not been able to hug my mum; I have not been able to share memories in person; I have not been able to say goodbye or physically support those I love. For many months, one of my more haunting memories is seeing my mum sitting all alone, with no one being able to hold her at the online YouTube funeral service; my finger resting on the small figure on screen in the hope she’d feel I was near. How desperate I have felt so many times to be near.
I still struggle with the words to describe the pain, immense hurt and trauma that comes from not being able to grieve “normally” and use our traditions surrounding grief that I’ve come to realise all there to help and support us deal with the impact but have been taken cruelly due to COVID-19.
I do much surrounding mental health and well-being in my professional life, and this has done me well. Within days after losing dad, I was very aware that if I didn’t put anything in place quickly, I might slip and revisit pits of dark despair with my mental health nosediving. Unfortunately, what grief teaches you, like a wave, like the force of nature, is it does not abide by your well-made plans; it will take its own course. However, having a self-care plan matters! It gives you some control in the unrelenting storm you find yourself in.
And this brings me to cycling; I started cycling only in 2019, not for my physical health but because I struggle with my mind, in part, because of autism. It was the best thing I ever did, so I knew I needed to cycle as part of my grief self-care plan…
Judith (re-)started cycling in 2019 to help with her mental health and regain a better work/life balance. She started on a tank of hybrid bike that allowed her to explore her beautiful surroundings of West Yorkshire, she discovered the love of cycling and its importance to leading a more active and healthier life; soon, she added a few more road bikes to help her up more hills and notably a little bit faster too, compared to the heavy hybrid. Outside of her cycling life, she runs her company MissyRedBoots, shares her life with a partner and two senior office dogs and is passionate about mental health and wellbeing. Her cycling Insta: @my_bike_adiona