When my late husband died, I hated being home. Home had too many memories. It’s where we lived our lives. It was where he died. So to escape the pain of home, I traveled. A lot. If I was traveling, I didn’t have to deal with the emotions of being home. I was a member of a professional society that afforded me the opportunity to travel the world. And I was able to bring my son with me. So off we went. For 5 years we traveled extensively. We traveled to 6 out of 7 continents, more than 70 countries, and visited over 40 states. The world was out there and we wanted to see it all. 


Traveling became a coping mechanism. 


Once again I’m traveling to cope. This time it’s not to exotic locations across the globe, it’s the southeastern states. This time I’m not traveling with someone who suffered the same loss, I’m traveling alone. This time it’s not due to death, it’s due to life. But the grief and loneliness feel very similar.


Traveling doesn’t mean I never have to admit the grief. To deal with my emotions. To face my feelings of loss. 


Traveling actually helps me grieve. Traveling taught me to grieve better in many ways. Running around the world after my late husband died, showed me how others celebrate life. And death.Opened my eyes and heart to so many fabulous cultures. Helped me to see the world through a different lens. And that lens shaped my focus on grief. Death is a part of life. A part we cannot control. In other cultures, when a loved one dies, they scream, they cry, they throw themselves on the ground. They show emotion. They do the grief work. And they celebrate their loved ones long after they have died. By honoring those we’ve lost, we honor ourselves. By remembering, speaking their name, celebrating them we keep their spirit alive. 


With my son leaving for college, I find myself using travel to once again cope with my grief. Except this time I am traveling for work and he can’t come with me. 


Traveling for work keeps me busy. I have clients to see. Reports to write. Meetings to attend. Limited time to focus on my empty house. Because focusing on the quiet means I have to admit that my son will never again live in my home full time. That he is walking his own path. Starting his journey. And while I am proud of him for taking the road less traveled and attending a military college, my heart still aches. And I’m not quite ready to cope with all the feels at home. So I deal with home in hotel rooms. It works for me. 


My home is my refuge. The place I desperately want to enjoy. Smile at the memories. Look forward to the future. So hotel rooms become my place of despair. They are the place I can cry. Be sad. Feel lonely. Alone is how I grieve best. It’s when I let all the emotions out. And traveling allows me to do just that.


Traveling is a coping mechanism for me. And as long as I’m not running away from life, it works. It’s ok. It’s how I come out stronger on the other side. 


Carla always knew she would be a widow but didn’t have any idea how it would actually feel. When Carla met her late husband Jared, he was waiting for a lung transplant due to Cystic Fibrosis, a chronic disease affecting the lungs and pancreas. So she knew that most likely someday she would say goodbye to her husband. But she never dreamt it would be exactly one week before their 14th wedding anniversary. In August 2014, Jared was diagnosed with a rare bacterial infection in his transplanted lung and was expected to survive at least 6 months if not a year. Instead, he died just 6 weeks later. And in the blink of an eye, Carla became a solo mom to their 10-year-old son. And even though her life was forever marked before and after, she was determined to live life to the fullest because her husband would expect no less.

She founded Breathing for Jared, a Foundation to provide college scholarships to those suffering from lung disease in honor of her late husband. Became a supporter of the CF Foundation and Donate Life. And discovered that writing out her emotions and fears on her blog Transplant Wife and Widow helped her to process her grief

Carla recently remarried and is now blending a family with her new husband, bonus daughter, and son.