Dealing with the death of a loved one is never easy.
A little over two months after long-distance runner Gabriele “Gabe” Grunewald died following a decade-long battle with cancer, her husband Justin Grunewald opened up about his difficult grieving process.
“Day 68, @gigrunewald, and I think I miss you more,” he wrote on Instagram alongside a smiling photo of the professional distance runner, who died at the age of 32.
“Honestly, every day hurts differently. It hurts in the same places, right over the the heart, and in the back of the throat. Every day, at some point, I’ll excuse myself to the bathroom, to outside, or to our bedroom, when the pain builds up enough that I have to cry,” he wrote. “It’s always the same but it’s always different. Some days it comes in multiple short increments, some days it lasts hours. It’s always easy to let it out at the cemetery where we chat.”
Justin went on to share that while the pain can be difficult to deal with, it’s “so much better than the numb feeling that can mix in.”
“The numb is scary,” he added.
In order to help “control the pain,” Justin shared that he’s continuing to run.
“Sometimes, it still breaks through, and I can cry on the run which is beautifully miserable. Hyperventilating while trying to run faster. Thanks for making me run through it all; it probably saved me,” he wrote.
“I’ll keep running. And I’ll keep reminding myself, as I have every day since the last time I held your hand, that it’s ok to struggle, but it’s not ok to give up. I’ll remember that every day for the rest of my life when it gets hard. And it does,” he continued.
Gabe, a former track and cross-country athlete for the University of Minnesota, was first diagnosed with a rare salivary gland cancer called adenoid cystic carcinoma in 2009. A year later, the Perham, Minnesota, native learned she also had thyroid cancer.
Following her initial diagnoses, Gabe continued to run amid her surgeries and treatments. She even placed fourth in the 2012 USA Olympic Trials — just narrowly missing the cut to make the Olympic team — and was the 2014 U.S. indoor champion in the 3,000-meter, according to her website.
Following her initial diagnosis 10 years ago, Gabe’s adenoid cystic carcinoma returned in 2016 and 2017, according to her website.
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In the weeks since his wife’s death, Justin has kept his followers updated on his grieving process, frequently sharing poignant memories of their time together.
On July 7, after having an “especially hard” day, Justin opened up about why Gabe requested that Kacey Musgrave’s song “Rainbow” be played at her funeral.
“The first time I heard it was at a @spaceykaceyconcert with GG and @abigailande. Gabriele made this request mid concert, which reflexively made me cry and upset with her at the time,” he wrote alongside a photograph of Gabe, as well as another image of a rainbow in the sky.
Justin went on to note some of the song’s emotional lyrics, which note that it can be difficult to notice that “it ain’t rainin’ anymore” when “all you know is the struggle of stayin’ above the risin’ water line.”
“Let go of your umbrella / ‘Cause, darlin’, I’m just tryin’ to tell ya / That there’s always been a rainbow hangin’ over your head / Yeah, there’s always been a rainbow hangin’ over your head / It’ll all be alright,” the song continues.
“I really needed that rainbow today GG more than words can say, so thanks 🌈. I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw one and it was beautiful,” he added.