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Riding the Waves of Grief: How Surfing Helped Me Move Forward after Losing a Loved One

Dealing with the loss of a loved one is an incredibly challenging experience that has a profound and life-changing impact on our physical and mental health. While grief is a deeply personal journey, finding healthy coping mechanisms is essential for healing and maintaining overall well-being in our daily lives. In the recent years after my Dad's passing, engaging in ocean activities such as Surfing, Fishing, and Stand Up Paddle-boarding has helped me through some of the darkest, and most hopeless feelings life has thrown at me so far. This article explores the ways in which the Ocean lifestyle can serve as a natural remedy for physical and mental health, offering a path towards healing after experiencing loss.

  1. The Healing Power of Nature: The Ocean, with its vastness and rhythmic movements, has a calming effect on our senses. Engaging in ocean-based activities like Surfing allows individuals to connect with nature, promoting a sense of self-awareness and confidence within their souls. The combination of sun exposure, the joy other people get from catching waves, and the people you can meet while Surfing can provide solace during times of grief and help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.

  2. Physical Exercise and Endorphin Release: Surfing is a physically demanding activity that requires strength, balance, and focus. When we engage in physical exercise, our bodies release endorphins, often referred to as "feel-good" hormones, similar to when we have great sex or the feeling we sometimes get by looking into our children's eyes. These endorphins help reduce stress, improve mood, and enhance overall well-being. Surfing not only provides an opportunity for cardiovascular exercise but also boosts mental health by promoting the release of these natural mood-enhancing chemicals.

  3. Mindfulness and Flow State: Surfing requires individuals to be fully present in the moment, you need to be looking ahead and focusing on the waves, being mindful of beginners who can potentially kill you, and the environment around them. This state of mindfulness can help individuals temporarily detach from grief and intrusive thoughts, providing a respite from emotional pain. The immersive experience of riding a wave can induce a flow state, where time seems to stand still, and individuals experience a deep sense of engagement and joy. You will be able to take your loved ones on a spiritual wave ride, when you feel like you're drowning, they will be there to keep your safe.

  4. Community and Connection: Surfing often fosters a sense of community and camaraderie among enthusiasts, although it can be a territorial and often threatening environment at more critical zones. Spots like Honolua Bay and Lunada Bay are known to have "crazy locals" that love to terrorize people who they've never seen before. Joining a surfing community or participating in group activities can create opportunities for social connection and support in most cases. Engaging with other like minded surfers who share a passion for the ocean lifestyle can provide a sense of belonging and understanding, reducing feelings of isolation commonly associated with grief. These connections can serve as a valuable support network during the healing process, be ready to have waves of emotions for years to come. Most Surfers have lost loved ones, and found a way to carry them as a reminder to never stop doing what you love.

  5. Cultivating Resilience: Surfing, like any challenging activity, requires perseverance, resilience, and the ability to overcome anything to start riding those waves. By being respectful and facing your fears, you will develop a sense of empowerment and resilience that the Rat Race just won't provide. This newfound resilience can extend beyond the Surfing realm and positively impact one's ability to cope with the emotional challenges of grief and loss.

Honolua Bay circa 2018


Surfing, along with other Ocean Activities offers a unique blend of physical activity, connection to nature, mindfulness, and community, which in return offers a natural remedy for physical and mental health during times of grief and loss. Engaging in ocean activities can provide solace, promote the release of endorphins, foster mindfulness, and create connections with like-minded individuals. While surfing alone may not heal the pain of loss, it can serve as a supportive tool in the journey towards finding peace, promoting mental well-being, and cultivating resilience.

Mahalo Nui


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