In the past, the budding warmth of spring may have meant it was time to plan the summer vacation. Now the thought of vacationing without your loved one brings a wave of grief and may even feel like a betrayal of his or her memory. It may seem counter-intuitive, but vacationing actually can be helpful for you and your grief process.
Taking a vacation is a time to relax and let your guard down. Vacationing can serve as a break from familiar scenery and allow you to discover your strengths, experience new emotions, and release grief pressure. While taking a vacation will not stop your grief, it will allow you more readily to take your mind off the sadness and perhaps find it a bit easier to remember happy times with your loved one. A vacation spot also can be a healthy place to openly grieve and heal without judgment.
Here are some tips to help you as you start thinking about a vacation without your loved one:
- Invite someone along. A companion who is a safe person (or multiple people) you feel comfortable with can listen to you and support your needs.
- Prepare to make new memories. Making new memories doesn’t mean you are replacing the old, it just means you’re adding more to your beautiful collection. These new memories can be shared with your lost loved one through journaling, conversation with those on your trip, or silently alone.
- Go somewhere new. Taking a trip somewhere new can be a breath of fresh air and allow you to discover new experiences that make you feel hopeful.
- Allow yourself to feel what you feel. Do not shut off your emotions. No one will be expecting you to feel a certain way. They won’t treat you differently.
- Be in nature. Make time to take a nice walk by the water, sit and watch the sunset, or look up at the night sky. Being close to nature and beauty will make you feel closer to your loved one, which can be very comforting.
- Be in the moment. Allow yourself to experience what the moment presents: joy, wonder, pleasure, contentment, curiosity, amazement, sadness, longing, grief, etc. Observe that every moment is not filled with sadness and grief. Notice the uniqueness of the moment.
~ Heather L. Nickrand, MA