Cyclist John Hewitt describes his relationship with his daughter Kelly as having been “extremely close, best friends.” But in late 2016, Kelly changed jobs, becoming a prison officer, and it seemed to take a heavy toll on her mental health. As Christmas approached and John tried to get to the bottom of what was troubling her, Kelly shut him out of her life. “I was distraught and extremely hurt,” the 53-year-old reflects.
His attempts to reconcile with his daughter went unanswered for an entire year – a period of not-knowing brought to an end in the worst possible way. On 21 December 2017, Hewitt received news that Kelly had taken her own life. She was 24. “I hadn’t seen Kelly for 12 months and the next time I did, she was in the mortuary,” Hewitt says slowly. He later learnt that Kelly had been the victim of bullying at work and had also been through the trauma of a miscarriage. “I don’t say this lightly: I still grieve every single day,” he adds.
As a society, we sometimes hold back from talking openly about death and grief. Mortality is too often a taboo subject, something we only refer to with black humour, masking our fear and anxiety. We will all experience grief, and we need to learn to talk about the feelings that arise and how to cope – including the role cycling can play. “The moment I started going out on my bike,” Hewitt says, “everything got a little bit […]