“I’m a widow, not a sports widow”. Negotiating families, grief and loss through sports charity events

Catherine Palmer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter explores sports charity events in the context of death and illness within families. Drawing on case study interviews conducted with two Australian families who lost family members and who drew on their involvement in endurance sports events to raise money for breast and brain cancers, this chapter explores the ways in which these events can offer an important outlet for dealing with death and illness within families. Employing the ‘restitution narrative’ common in the sociology of health and illness to shape particular relationships between an individual and their illness, and recovery, the chapter examines the ways in which two families constructed narratives of illness, death, healing and recovery that were subjectively and powerfully evocative for them. In describing the practices by which families turned to sports charity to “come back together” as a family, the chapter offers an analysis of responses to death and dying and the ways in which fundraising for and participating in sports charity events can provide families a structure and purpose for dealing with grief and its aftermath. This connection to grief and recovery has not yet been addressed in other configurations of families and leisure events, despite the growing numbers of families affected by death and the diagnosis of serious illness and who turn to fundraising through fitness philanthropy. This, I suggest, is an underexplored consideration in understanding families through their leisure practices and events.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFamily Events
Subtitle of host publicationPractices, Displays and Intimacies
EditorsThomas Fletcher
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781000580778, 9781003051190
ISBN (Print)9780367507725
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2022

Publication series

NameRoutledge Critical Event Studies Research Series


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