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Grandmother to cycle 1,000 miles to help grieve the loss of her children

old woman bicycle

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Cerith Gardiner - published on 05/03/23

The 84-year-old grandmother from Scotland will also be raising funds while coping with her "unbearable grief."

Mavis Paterson from Galloway in Scotland will celebrate her upcoming 85th birthday on her bike, in honor of her three deceased children, according to the BBC.

The grandmother lost her three children in the space of just four years: Sandy died of a heart attack in 2012, her daughter Katie succumbed to a viral pneumonia in 2013, and son Bob died in an accident in 2016. They were all in their 40s at their time of death.

While Paterson has already made impressive journeys on her trusty bike — she became the oldest woman to cycle the 960 miles from Land’s End at the base of England to John O’Groats at the tip of Scotland in 2019 — she is now older, and is hoping that this particular challenge will help with the “unbearable grief” of losing her children.

“When I am cycling, I don’t think about them so much, which is a big help to me because the grief is unbearable. When my children died I just didn’t know what to do. But the cycling has helped me a lot,” she shared with the BBC.

The grandmother of three also explained how cycling is like therapy, and she realizes that she can’t spend the rest of her life thinking about her heartbreaking losses:

“I do think about them a lot but I’ve got to face life, so I take on the challenges, which are a huge help to me. The last one I did was wonderful because it took my mind off of the children,” adding to BBC Scotland’s Mornings program that, “when I am cycling, I am really happy on my bike and I can even sing and enjoy myself.”

Although Paterson is about to turn 85, over the last two decades she has undertaken some very impressive challenges. She’s not only cycled across the United States and Canada, she’s also climbed Kilimanjaro.

But the active granny is also cycling for a cause that is close to her heart. Her mom Cathy and sister Sandra both died from cancer, so the octogenarian will be on her wheels raising much-needed funds for Macmillan Cancer Support.

“I think about Macmillan because they have lost millions due to COVID so they need the money and I am going to work hard on that bike and hopefully raise lots and lots of money.”

While not every grieving parent would be able to emulate Paterson’s grief therapy, her desire to help others while finding her own inner-peace is truly inspirational.

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