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Taking a Griefcation

With the schools breaking up for summer soon, many households are full of excitement and anticipation for their up and coming holidays, whether they’re going abroad, somewhere in England or even just down the road.

For those who are bereaved, our thoughts often turn to those memories we shared with our loved one and can leave us with the dilemma of choosing to go on holiday or not and whether to try somewhere new or go back to the places that we have fond memories of. The thought of this can leave us wracked with guilt and anxiety – guilt for moving on with our lives and anxiety about going on holiday without our loved one or trying something new. Any of the confusing emotions you are experiencing right now are perfectly normal. It is only natural that at times where we see other families at their happiest we feel our emotions more intensely.

It can be daunting going on holiday without that special someone, regardless of whether this is the first time since their death or the tenth. Try not to strike it off completely, there are many examples of bereaved people who have found their travels healing and provided the release they didn’t know they needed. There are many examples through just one internet search of how bereaved people found traveling healing and helpful throughout their grief. Listed below are a few examples of the things you may overcome or experience should you choose to travel while grieving:

Space– The process of travelling can give you some physical and emotional space to process the reality of the loss as well as to process your feelings. However, it also brings with it welcome distractions through making decisions and sorting out the logistics of where you are going. It can be empowering to see how capable you are and comforting to be anonymous in a new place where you don’t feel like people are treating you differently because of your bereavement. The most important thing is to make sure that there is someone you can call if you need to talk and that you take measures to stay safe.

Isolation– Grief can be terribly isolating, a sense that no one understands you and the feelings that you are experiencing are incredibly difficult to deal with. Whether you choose to travel alone, with family or with friends, travel can help you feel more connected with yourself – after becoming bereaved, you can often neglect those senses, adding to those feelings of isolation. If you decide that you want to travel or take that holiday, commit to it. Commit to the process of grieving and just let it happen. Allow yourself the freedom to not only cry, but to scream, shout and grow from your experiences. If you are travelling alone, make sure that there is someone you can call if you need to talk.

Guilt & Anger– Dealing with the guilt of bereavement can be particularly hard. We can often feel guilt for doing something without your loved one or even guilt for leaving other people affected by the bereavement at home. Allowing yourself to step over your guilt and experience new things can leave you feeling oddly liberated and empowered. We can also feel guilty because we are angry. Angry at your loved one for dying, angry at them for leaving you in this world without them but also angry at yourself for thinking these things.  It’s ok to be angry at the your loved one for dying, for we are the ones who suffer through the emptiness. Anger is a perfectly normal part of grief and can be felt more strongly when we take ourselves out of our comfort zone. Feeling these emotions can be terribly confusing so perhaps try writing your feeling down in a journal, or even visualise as if you were the one who had died, what would you say to your loved one. These are techniques that can be used for all of the emotions of grief but are particularly useful in this situation.

Forgiveness – Forgiveness can be the hardest part of a bereavement. Some people think that it signifies that you are forgetting your loved one or getting over it, but that’s not the case. Forgiving your loved one for dying and forgiving yourself for continuing to enjoy life is not something to be ashamed of, its what they would have wanted you to do. Often, while travelling, grieving people experience a sense of freedom or release from the depths of grief – your loved one wouldn’t want you to stop living and loving your life. You may also feel a sense of awakening as you let go of the denial of your situation, a protective measure to give yourself time to adjust, and start the road to healing. Holding onto your pain brings endless grief, try to let go of that pain. You will never forget the impact that your loved one had, but we can easily forget to live in the present when we are grieving. Here are some activities you can do to feel more present in the moment:

  • See the sunrise
  • Journal your travel experience
  • Set yourself a photo challenge
  • Challenge yourself to do something you have never done before
  • Do what the locals do

For more bereavement support, please call 01332 345268 and ask to speak to Fay, our Bereavement Support Coordinator.