The first vacation was after my first husband, Kris, was killed in a motorcycle accident. My two boys and I planned a mini vacation during spring break. We decided to head to near by amusement park and just have some fun away from the house. At this point in our lives I was a newly single mom raising two angry teenaged boys. Challenging would be an understatement for what it was like attempting to vacation together as never before. My objective was to bring about a little normalcy and forward movement for us all. We opted to spend one night away and go to the amusement park for the day. The trip was pretty awful for me emotionally. My fun, happy and goofy riding buddy wasn’t there. How was I to have fun? I didn’t want to ride rides alone. The kids swapped off who would ride alone and we rode a few as a family but, in the end the boys wanted to go to do their thing. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t a barrel of fun to be around. I was left adrift while the boys tore off to have fun. I had no idea how to entertain myself while they rode rides. I had never been alone at an amusement park before. I had always been surrounded by friends or Kris I was stunned at how isolated I felt among thousands of people. I remember seeing the joyous families and happy couples. I felt very alone, sad, and lonely. I got pretty weepy and took a time out in the bathroom to have a good cry. Afterwards, I sucked it up and determined that I could do this. I got a beer and wandered aimlessly in the shops and to shows we had never been to before. I pretended to have a great time for the boys sake. We had dinner and collapsed in the hotel room. The next day we left and on a whim I stopped at the Snake Farm. The boys acted like little kids and we laughed and really did have a good time. I was happy and it didn’t suck being together as a family on vacation. That first family mini vacation was really hard but I was glad we did it and it was a milestone for us. We all moved forward, we laughed as a family again and loved each other. We learned we could do this thing called have fun as a family again.
The second vacation during grief was my very first solo vacation as a widow. I booked myself a spa/lake vacation while my youngest son went to a grief camp. My thoughts were I was close if he couldn’t take camp plus I was at a lake and spa so maybe I could enjoy myself. I had NO idea how challenging this first solo vacation would be. I thought I’ve been living alone for over six months. I’ve got this. Wow, I wasn’t prepared for the isolation, eating alone, no one to help with the bags, and no one to talk to. Booking a dinner table for one was the worst. I was OK by the pool until the screaming kids and happy families arrived. I discovered that eating at the bar, as a single is more acceptable and fewer people ask awkward questions or look at you funny. My spa day was truly amazing and relaxing. I needed that pampering. I thought I’d go out and have fun at night. I just couldn’t do it; I just curled up in bed and read. That was all I could manage. I had some great cries and wallowed in my lonely grief a bit. I was really proud of myself for vacationing alone and surviving it. I decided that vacationing alone wasn’t exactly for me. I needed to find some friends to hang out with or group travel. It was a time of reflection, future planning, adapting to the reality that I am single, and a single mom. I moved into acceptance of my new reality and new normal as a result of that trip. I was determined to figure out who I was and what I wanted for the remainder of my life. I knew that I wanted to live and love again.
My third vacation was after my mother passed away. I decided to celebrate big for my 50th birthday and get a way to a tropical island this spring. My new husband Bill and I had a nice relaxing get away. I was able to have a nice time, unwind, reflect, and relax. It was a great moving forward experience. I was able to reflect on life, be grateful for what I have in life, and contemplate my future. It was at the six-month mark after mom had died and the timing was perfect for moving forward with life. I felt free and rejuvenated afterwards. A sense of peace and calm entered into my being again. My grief has lessened and I’m moving through it. I can see and feel forward progress.
My fourth and most recent vacation I just returned from. My sister and I met in Florida to visit dad in memory care for Father’s Day. Florida is where mom and dad have lived for several years. The experience resulted in a whole ball of mixed emotions. My sister and I went together – thank God for companionship on this trip. Together we were able to share good times and tough times. We reminisced our childhoods, shared stories about our parents and upbringing. We had time to just enjoy one another’s company without the stress of what to do with mom and dad. We relived the challenging memories of caring for mom when we were in town, the hospital, rehab and doctor visits, caring for dad, moving them into assisted living, moving dad in to memory care and finally mom’s memorial service. It was poignant and obvious there is no mom around - we shared that void. Visiting the house they lived in that’s still on the market was unpleasant. We decided that one visit was enough. Then there’s the reality that dad with his memory failing is not the dad we grew up with. This whole pre-grieving experience around dad is a new challenge. In many ways the trip was healing and helpful for moving forward. In some ways it was more difficult than I imagined. The reality of your father’s demise and frailty with old age and eventual demise confronts your emotions. Overall we were glad we went, it felt right, there was healing for us and our individual grief and pre-grief. I feel like I’ve moved further along in my own grief journey and am accepting the pre-grieving as well. The beach sunsets and quiet time were great for reflection and finding peace.
I had not thought about vacations and travel before as a means for healing and moving forward on your grief journey. After reflecting I realize it can be a critical part of the odyssey. Remember grief is a journey and it is your personal journey. I have discovered that travel and vacations can be a great way to heal, move forward, a find some peace along your journey. You can also do something in honor of your loved one on vacation or you can reconnect with old friends and families. Vacations and grief can to together and be of great comfort, peace, and healing. Here’s to your courage to travel and may you find peace, comfort, and healing in your journeys.
Have you found travel or vacations helpful in your journey? If so, I’d love to hear from your. Did you find this useful or thought provoking? Click like, share, or comment please. Perhaps someone you know could use this information, please share.
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Peace, Love, & Blessings,
Bold Fulfilled Business & Life Coach –Change and Loss Specialty
Vacations and Grief
Grief in General Resource:
Ways to Honor a Loved One: