Julie Zarifeh: Grief On the Run

“I’m kinder, don’t sweat the small stuff, more motivated, optimistic and realistic at the same time, to realize that life isn’t predictable.”

-Julie Zarifeh

 

Julie Zarifeh
Julie Zarifeh

Julie Zarifeh: Setting Goals to Heal

 

Julie Zarifeh is an outdoors person. Living near the coast in New Zealand she cultivated a deep appreciation of nature. And this appreciation, of nature and of physical activity, would be a valuable asset as she navigated the years ahead.

Her husband, Paul, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. An aggressive Whipple procedure bought him some time, but didn’t change the ultimate outcome. Losing her husband was an almost unbearable loss. But just 16 days later, her eldest son Sam died on a rafting expedition. The combined tragedy of the death of two family members so close together was unimaginable.

How does one deal with such a cruel twist of fate?

We all grieve differently. It’s an idiosyncratic process that is far from the linear picture painted by Elizabeth Kubler Ross.

Part of Julie’s healing came through travel and setting what she calls Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG) . Pushing herself physically helped to distract from the grief. She bicycled 450 kilometers through Sri Lanka, raising money to provide disadvantaged KIWI children with bikes.

 

“You feel good by doing good.”

 

Julie visited Europe with her two remaining children to connect to Paul’s Palestinian roots. She traveled to India and Nepal. She ran the New York marathon, and she walked the Camino de Santiago. The travel, the history, the newness of different places allowed her to keep her grief at bay. At least for a while.

 

Walking The Camino De Santiago

 

Walking the Camino de Santiago

Walking the Camino de Santiago

 

“I knew I would need something on the horizon as a goal. I saw an ad for in the newspaper for the Camino de Santiago.”

“It’s something that found me. The ad was minuscule but I managed to find it.”

 

And this wasn’t just any trip walking the historic pilgrimage across Spain. Along with four New Zealanders and four Australians, this trip would become a documentary film, Camino Skies, about facing major life changes.

 

 

Julie’s path and her approach helped her navigate profound grief.  Listen in on this podcast about life, resilience and setting BHAGs to survive and eventually thrive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

​Bump In The Road:

Julie Zarifeh

Julie Zarifeh:  Loss, Joy and Looking Ahead

 

Julie talks about confronting loss. Through her last years of life with her husband Paul, she realized that he had taught her how to grieve.

Her book, Grief on the Run, talks about her travels and her healing.

 

“We don’t have much (if any) control over these unanticipated life events,

but we categorically do have a choice over how we react to them.”

 

For Bump II Subscribers:

There are five components of healing, according to Julie: (Read on and listen in by getting a free month’s Bump II subscription by using the code FREEMONTH)

 

 

Julie Zarifeh on Grief and Finding Life Again

 

 

“I was cruising along in life. Happy marriage, kids. My husband Paul at the age of 57 was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.”

 

“It was coming to terms with being a widow at 53 and what that would look like going forward.”

 

“Then tragedy of all tragedies struck when literally 16 days later my eldest son Sam lost his life in a drowning accident on a camping trip.”

 

“The double whammy of 2 deaths, 2 immediate family members in 16 days, was definitely enough to derail one.”

 

“I knew I would need something on the horizon as a goal. I saw an ad for in the newspaper for the Camino de Santiago.”

 

“It’s something that found me. The ad was miniscule but I managed to find it.”

 

“Ironically it was part of a documentary called Camino Skies about 4 New Zelanders and 2 Australians who walk the Camino, to deal with some major life challenge.” 

 

“It was the perfect storm of physical exhaustion and the realization that Sam and Paul were really gone.”

 

“The world was grey. “

 

“Resilience is about working out the strategies that are going to help you adjust to and accommodate whatever adversities you’ve struck.”

 

“I think I surprised myself in the 3 years since Paul and Sam’s death in what I actually was capable of.”

 

“I’m kinder, don’t sweat the small stuff, more motivated, optimistic and realistic at the same time, to realize that life isn’t predictable.”

 

“You feel good by doing good.”

 

 

“Time is a great healer and you can help yourself along the way.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bump in the Road

Everyone hits a bump in the road. The question becomes: What do you do with it?

We share stories about how people experience, manage and navigate life's bumps, hopefully using them as a pivot into a more conscious and meaningful life.

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