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.
This was so refreshing to read. I’m so sorry for your loss. After 16 years of marriage and out of the blue , my husband and partner was promoted to heaven. I’m solo parent to seven kids, young kids. This is tough.
Beautiful post. I traveled a lot for work and as part of professional societies for years. That was before and during my marriage. We were a second marriage couple – profoundly happy to find each other & secure in ourselves. My late husband also traveled in a similar fashion. The year we met he had bicycled across the country solo – also because of grief.
I became a bicyclist. We found ways to travel together despite and because of our work. It really was heaven.
He died of cancer at home during Covid. After such intense caretaking & loss, I was forced into isolation for a year as my state locked down. It was hell.
And I thought I would never be able to face traveling again.
But Ai returned to work a year ago. They sent me traveling on my own again. I saw that I could indeed do it.
This year on my spring birthday, I scheduled a tour to a place I had been planning to do 5 years ago before my husband was diagnosed. This fall I’m going to Machu Picchu solo on a small group tour. I’m nervous, I’m excited. I’m bringing a bit of his ashes.
I am sorry for your loss. Loss is hard enough but during a pandemic, ugh. I have heard that Machu Picchu is absolutely beautiful. Enjoy every minute. There’s something to be said for traveling solo. It’s good for the soul in a different way. My late husband and I always traveled. And once our son was born he just came with us. We made a list of places we wanted to see when we started dating and when he died they were only three left. My son and I have now finished the list. And created a new one. Enjoy your adventures.
Thank you Carla, please continue your beautifully inspiring posts. The bloggers on Hope for Widows (obviously you are one) enabled me to be connected during that hellacious year. Not sure where I’d be now without you. Thank you so much!