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I have had several (not widowed) people tell me that I should take my kids on a nice vacation this year, and I thought at first that we should as well, but the problem is that we took so many really wonderful vacations together as a family that I can't think of anything that won't just be terribly sad because it will emphasize more than almost anything else I can think of, that their father should be with us and isn't.  I thought I might be able to get around this by going somewhere we hadn't been before, but my 16 year old daughter confessed to me tearfully that she would find it very painful, so I have been reconsidering.  I was hoping that those of you a little farther along than me might tell me how you handled the first vacation with your children without your husband or wife.  I am starting to think it would be better to let the first year go by without trying to force ourselves to act as normal.

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your non-widowed friends mean well but they don't get it.

stay home. at least for a while

first vacation I took without hubby was a cruise with the "red hats". plenty of widows in that group!

while the cruise was amazing I was still grieving. had plenty of time to reflect on what chaos I experienced that first year without him.

so 5 weeks after Robbie passed away suddenly, we had a soccer tournament in Las Vegas.  This was the last vacation that Robbie had planned for us.  Just my oldest daughter and I went together because 2 years before we went just the 3 of us, leaving our other 2 at home.  This was an incredibly hard thing to do, but we managed to get through it.  At one point the first night I was in the bar area with all the other parents from the team and started to have a panic attack.  I said goodnight and that I loved them all but I was heading back to my room.  Got back and took lots of deep breaths and prayed my way through.  I'm not a big fan of Las Vegas no matter the circumstances but we did try to enjoy this last vacation that Daddy planned for us.  It was a great help that some friends from across the country surprised my daughter by meeting us there, so that was a nice distraction for her and myself as well.  

Fast forward to Spring Break (4 months out from Robbie passing), some close friends invited us to share their condo and join them at Legoland for a few days.  We decided to go for it, we spent two nights with them, two days at Legoland and then drove home for the night and continued onto Sacramento the next morning to spend a few days with my family as my nephew was getting his Eagle Scout Court of Honor, my sister planned this for the day before Easter so that I didn't have to think about hosting Easter this year *such a great big sister, still looking after her little sis*.  it was during this week long break that I can honestly say my family (me and my 3 littles) went from survival mode to living again.  I questioned whether or not I should move back to Sacramento to be with my family and closer to them and when I was driving home (6 hours away) I realized I was driving HOME, and that was where I am and where my family needs to be!  

So as everyone says be gentle with yourself, do what is best for you!  I loved the ability to be with close friends because they allowed me the opportunity to be ok or not and either was fine.  Someone at church is asking to trade houses for 6 weeks on the Croatian Coast while they are here this summer and I definitely put some thought into it, the end result is no, but it was nice to think of.  Do what is best for you and be open to both good days and bad.  To top off everything in the Vegas holiday we got into a car accident because someone didn't see me and I thought they were letting me in, so beware of those things as well!

Love in Christ,

Tarrah

While it was sad to return to a vacation my family enjoyed together before Bill's passing, it was also very cathartic in that we smiled a lot at the things Bill would have enjoyed most, talked about missing him and then did something different to change it up some so that it wasn't just about being sad. My husband was very into gardening and would stop to admire or make a comment on a plant. We laughed about that and wondered what he might have said. I am attending his family reunion this coming weekend and while I know he will be missed as he was a part of a very large and close knit family, I also know that there are new babies to love on and more memories to make. Normal will happen whether you choose to ignore a vacation or go on one. Life is normal and you have to keep on carrying on.

So you can tell from the variety of responses to just do what you feel. My husband died in mid December and my two young adult daughters decided we should all spend that Christmas in New York (where one of them lives) so I would not be alone for the holidays. They basically kidnapped me!

We did that again this past year, with more planning (Rockettes! Rockefeller Center! Theater tickets!), and I think we will continue to go someplace that is "not home" for winter holiday (we celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas) at least while they are still single.

They also told me it is incredibly weird to hear me leading the Passover Seder and not their father's voice. Changes come along and carry us with them.  

Oh, it is hard that there isn't really a consensus.  I think the difference may lie in vacations that are just for fun as opposed to re-framing an unavoidable event like Christmas, or going to visit family.

We are all different.    My wife didn't like to travel, so travelling has been therapeutic for me.   I'm trying to get to every major league baseball stadium before I turn 60, so since she passed away almost two years ago, I've been to Phoenix (Diamondbacks), Chicago (White Sox), Toronto (CW and the Blue Jays).    I've been back to Arizona twice for Spring Training and this September I will be going back to Chicago (going to Cubs game with Fredb) and Cleveland (Indians).     This will get me up to 18 stadiums I've been to and I will have 6 years to go to get to the remaining 12 I haven't been to.   Two a year should do it.

If you time it right you could see the Giants play in SF and the A's in Oakland on the same visit to the Bay Area.

I've been to both Oakland and San Francisco.   I go to Northern California a few times a year as my sister lives in Grass Valley CA and my parents are buried in Nevada City.    I usually visit friends and do touristy stuff when I am up there.    I live in Los Angeles. 

Possibly taking short trips in your area may help you get started?

Here is how a life coach responded to my statement that it would be hard for me to travel because it would hurt so much to do it without my husband, "I never had really traveled until I met D.…without him would be a very different experience for me. Even in a crowd of tourist (which we try to avoid) we are in our own bubble of insulation and entertainment. I do savor every moment and try never to take it for granted."  How nice for her, of course, we all remember how that used to feel.  Was she trying to show me how great life can be when you travel with someone you love?  I almost put this in the insensitive topic, but maybe I overuse that one.  She volunteered her help to me, it's not something I had to pay for, luckily, because she is full of too happy to see how sad what she is saying would make me feel comments.

I feel as if, in our pain, we are still always the ones who have to be the bigger people making allowances for the ignorance of others.  It's a little backwards.

Time to dump that coach, I'd say. Harsh, but she was focused on herself and her feelings, not you, when she said that. At best, she was trying to convey that she understands travel is no longer the same for you, but very ineptly. She wasn't giving you tools and techniques to get you toward your goals and she was reopening your grief. "Would you like to start traveling again?" "What do you see yourself doing?" "What interests you -- the food, the scenery, the art?"  would have been better responses in my mind.

I believe sometimes it's better to have a paid client relationship for things like this. Keeps people from confusing it with a sharing, you listen to me, I listen to you, friendship type of thing. (Not that friends can't give you super advice and a kick in the pants, but the relationship is clear, not fuzzed.)

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