“To travel is to travel within yourself.” ~ Danny Kay
The pamphlet said “Mermaid Tail, Optional”. What mom in her 40s isn’t hiding a sparkly fishtail in her closet just in time? I live in Minnesota. I will borrow it when I get there.
We flew from Minneapolis to Panama City and took a water taxi to a backpacker resort. Not frozen cocktails or bad DJs. The next thing I noticed, I was on a sailing boat, dressed as a mermaid, swinging from an aerial circus hoop suspended above the sparkling Caribbean Sea.
I felt free, alive and playful in my body.
How did I, a grieving daughter, sister and mother, get there? That’s what I was asking myself. It’s both a long story and a short story.
After years of death and loss, I was called to a retreat called Air and Sails. It will be a gift to your hurt self. That’s the short take.
The longer explanation is the most painful, but perhaps it explains why so many of us chase adventures and time away from our daily lives and responsibilities. not. I certainly did.
After losing my father to cancer and my brother to suicide within six months, I had to say goodbye to my daughter who had been part of our family for four years. However, she ended up living with another family.
In my grief, I redesigned my approach to life.
It’s sad to say, “Yes, I’ll try.” trip. aerial trapeze. Mermaid tail.
The unexpected gifts of grief are cracked open, making us feel the urgency of these occasions. I also embraced play and movement and started doing circus arts.The retreat provided some of the best aerial coaches.
But aside from honing my skills, I longed for an escape from the mundane groundwork and frequent reminders of missing family members.
Losing a loved one is definitely something you experience many times. Each of us grieves differently, but from my experience as a trauma psychologist and as someone who has lived through grief, I can tell you that the journey out of your comfort zone is is deeply healed.
“Grief” cannot heal pain, but meaningful travel can help us cope and perhaps even heal.
The last time I googled “griefcation” it appeared over 400 times in the search engine, with the first hit being in 2017. Not much compared to the “staycation” that appeared in over 100 million articles. But I believe travel is a conscious way to grieve that pulls us out of the funk of isolation and offers an opportunity for relief, insight, healing, peace and transformation.
Travel is very conscious of our new surroundings as we read maps, find hotels, hail taxis (or look for Ubers), and do currency exchange mental calculations. , forcing you to focus on the moment. All this is a welcome respite from the overthinking and overwhelm that comes with grief.
These days there are ‘Grief Cruises’ and bereavement ships where chaplains await. If you’re looking to step into a travel experience, rather than a full dive, a retreat (a mini-vacation if you prefer) can be a great and inexpensive alternative.
I live in grief, but I am fortunate and privileged to be able to work for myself with flexible vacations and enough travel points accumulated from business trips to circumnavigate the planet. For those with grief, vacations may be closer to home or shorter in duration.
The year after my father and brother died, I first asked for a brief grief. I had the urge to be with other people who were grieving. I found a ‘Grief Dancer’ retreat in Big Sur and this description struck a chord with me. Invite them to your weekend retreat and wrap up what you shouldn’t be holding alone.
I flew to San Francisco and drove the Pacific Coast Highway to what I affectionately called “Hippie’s Paradise.” There, primitive music, soulful rhythms, and unconscious dance helped find joy in non-judgmental movement.
Since my father and brother passed away, I’ve been searching for destinations and sometimes trying to escape tradition.
My dad loved the gaudy, glitzy nature of Christmas celebrations and lined our house in Southern California with shimmering rainbow lights all over. He even collected a singing snowman from Hallmark. . He had a dozen of them. He terrorized us, his grown children, turning them all on at once, each singing a different Christmas carol, competing for supremacy in the merry season.
My father died of cancer in November, and after a memorial service in early December, my mother and surviving siblings withdrew to their own corners of their countries, grieving alone. I was hibernating in the dark cold of Minneapolis with her husband and her two boys.
As a result, families no longer get together for Christmas. Now that it’s gone, I’ve been working to create a new holiday tradition for my sons that revolves around travel experiences. We read books, play together, and create special moments to remember those we have lost. .
I have learned that it is possible to live in sorrow and experience deep joy. Grief is an invitation to deeply cherish the moments in your life and find joy wherever you can.
You can travel to escape grief, or you can focus on loss as an important part of your travel experience and create activities to honor the lives of those who have died.
Dr. Karen Wyatt, hospice physician and founder of the End-of-Life University Blog, has written in detail about the “safe container” travel can provide for healing grief and loss.she defined Six Categories of Sorrow’s Journey Consider when planning. Restorative. meditative. physically active. anniversary. It will be helpful. intuitive.
Before our momentous anniversary of grief, we traveled to Morocco, this time with my husband and other entrepreneurs, to experience “a radical self-awareness while leaving our comfort zone in the wild and extraordinary.” bottom. I’ve never been there to grieve specifically, but I’m always on that journey. And it was informative. And a memorial.
We celebrated the fourth anniversary of my father’s death in the Sahara Desert near the border with Algeria. It was a day of beauty and reflection. Shifting Sands was a meditation on the fleeting nature of life. The harsh nature of the landscape was a confirmation that life was never long and survival was not guaranteed.
The astonishing beauty of this place and the company I was with was an invitation borrowed from the poet Mary Oliver to celebrate the magic of this “wild and precious life.” It was a soulful experience that made me feel alive. I grabbed a handful of his ashes and sand and threw them into the air. We are releasing. sob. celebrate.
You can’t live each day like it’s your last. If I had, I would have been bankrupt, exhausted, and probably in jail.
The journey, like grief, takes us to different lands where life seems more precious and urgent. If you’re lucky, you’ll find joy in your sorrow, as I did. Memories stay with you forever.
About Dr. Sherry Walling
Sherry Walling is a clinical psychologist (PhD), speaker, podcaster, and entrepreneur. Her life’s work is helping high achievers navigate painful and complex experiences, including loss. her podcast, zen founderhas been called a “must-listen” by both Forbes and Entrepreneur magazines and has been downloaded over a million times. her book, touching two worlds (Sounds True 2022) is part memoir, part psychological reflection on grief.