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.
Well, my husband died in October of 2010, by the time March rolled around, I was so sick of being so sad all the time, and seeing them sad, and seeing them around other sad people, I wanted to take my kids away for some fun. They were 10 and 7. I booked a trip to Universal Studio's in Orlando, and we went there in May. Both my boys are big Harry Potter fans, so we spent days at Universal riding roller coasters, eating junk and laughing a lot. I bought them what ever things they wanted, took pictures with Scooby-Doo, and went through Jurassic Park. It was a great break and I didn't feel an ounce of guilt and made sure the boys didn't either. There was plenty of grief to get back to when we got home. We had been on vacations with Daddy before, but this was the first time we went there. It was a great distraction and it was nice to laugh and hear them laugh again. My husband was all about fun, love, his family and doing what was best for us. I know he would have approved of this and would never want us to stay sad. What I'm trying to say is, you will find your way to fun again. I honestly didn't know what to expect as we made our way to the airport; was this all going to be a disaster? It wasn't. Don't go to just any place, just for the sake of going away, find some place that you really want to go to, some thing you've always wanted to do or what they have always wanted to do. It's all part of creating a new life for yourselves. Your stronger than you think.
My situation is different in that my adult children were from a previous marriage, so every trip I took with my husband was without them. I took my two adult children and my granddaughter to Jamaica at about 15 months out. It was good for me to enjoy traveling again, as Gregg and I had traveled two to three times a year. This year, I am planning on traveling solo (expensive to pay for four people!!!) to an area I have been to before with my husband. I am both excited and nervous, hoping for relaxation, but recognizing that a few tears are inevitable.
A few months after my wife died, I just had to "get out of Dodge". I took a tour called "Trains Through Colorado, which I did enjoy. But, when I got out of the van that took me to the airport, there was an empty wheelchair right in front of me.
Also, on the tour, a lady came up to me and said,"I hear through the grapevine that you are a recent widower". I looked down to see if there was a "Fresh Meat" sign around my neck.
Later on, I decided to take a few trips that my wife was never interested in. I took a 2 week trip through China, a ride on the Trans-Siberian Express, and a cruse trough the Inner Hebrides of Scotland.
My husband and I didn't have children so this is a little off topic I guess. Three weeks before my husband's sudden death my best friend (we go back 45 years) lost her husband to a sudden death. Talk about strange timing.
Anyway, my friend (who lived on the other side of the country) was scheduled for hip replacement surgery six weeks after her husband died. It had been scheduled for months. Newly widowed or not, she really couldn't put the surgery off. My husband immediately suggested that I go there to take care of her as she recovered. I got the time off work and we bought my plane ticket.
Then, three weeks later I found myself suddenly widowed. It never crossed my mind to not make the trip. It was one of the smarter things I've done. It was very healing for both of us.
Lovely thing for you to do... nice to hear
This is my experience:
My wife passed away 2-12-2014.
Mothers Day 2014 my 2 girls (ages 17 & 14) and I went on a nature hike at a state park. We use to do this as a family. All was well until I noticed just how much this is a couples and family activity. Then it was torture for me getting back in from the hike.
About a month later we got invited by my cousin to accompany them to the beach on Lake Michigan. Sounded great as we had some of our best vacations at Cocoa Beach, FL. I didn't see a problem with the idea as we had never been to this particular beach. Was I ever wrong ! Then to add insult to injury the local American Legion had a ceremony at end of day to lower the flag and played Tapps over the P.A. system. Since loosing my grandfather (a WWII veteran) I cannot hear Tapps without having a meltdown. Another day from hell !
I think that know matter what you do the 1st. year there are going to be so many landmines (unexpected triggers) you will be a mess. I've said many times that there is no winning with grief.
You just have to get out there and try to move forward. Expect that it will hurt like hell and if it does just sit with your grief and be with it. When it subsides move on to your next activity. This is how my grief counselor says to work through my grief. My recommendation to you is to take 3-4 close to home get-aways. Close to home so that you can have a safe haven to return to if it gets to be too much. Just know that the more I did this it got easier gradually. I'm at 15-months out and it still hurts but I have noticed that I bounce back quicker each time. I make time for meltdowns and take it all in and process it. Remember too that you can confide in YOUR WIDVILLE FAMILY in the heat of a meltdown ! We are all in this together.
Hopefully your experience will be better than mine.
Thank you Doug, and everyone else, for your good advice. I don't even know how I am going to go to the beach again, we live close to the beach, and it's something we did a lot as a family, and my husband was the one who loved it the most of all. If we go it is going to hurt so much, and if we don't, that is going to hurt as well. My plan right now is to go knowing that the first time is going to hurt like hell, although I literally don't know how I am going to stand it. Knowing that I will be able to share my feelings with you all here afterwards does help. I am going to get around the first family vacation by parking my two youngest with their guardians to be if something happens to me, and going on a short prospective college tour with my oldest. I am seized up now just thinking about it, but there's no way around it that's not going to hurt.
In the past year I have taken numerous short get-aways and a couple of longer vacations as a widow. It fills my need to "run away" from life. Some have been with the kids, or other family members but my most recent was the most revealing of how I am handling the grief. I went on a 7 day cruise to the Caribbean alone. It was a cruise my husband and I had done before. I had to make all the decisions about what to do, when to eat, what entertainment I wanted. It truly was a trip all about me. There were times where I thought oh how Bill would have loved that, or Bill wouldn't have done this with me anyway. I cried several times when missing him was all consuming. I laughed a lot and took great comfort in the support I had from total strangers. I noticed people, including couples, were constantly inviting me to sit with them, converse or join them on this experience or outing. I felt validated as a whole person. I had an amazing time. In retrospect I would not hesitate to do it again. It would not be my first choice as I would prefer to have someone there with me. (you know when you have an experience how it is so nice to share it with someone who was there?) I will do it again as I felt it was very cathartic toward my process of moving along in life.
Listen to your daughter (and other children) and gauge your decision on how they feel about this. Don't let others influence you on what you 'should' do. Find out what they might want to do ... or not do.
My single, adult son and I traveled together about 2 months after my husband/his father died. It was early December and I just felt the need to get away from all of the office Christmas parties, etc. Spent a week in Key West, a place we had never visited before, and it was good. Son enjoyed the all-night partying and meeting new people and slept during the day; I enjoyed quiet times on the beach, walking tours, being alone and slept at night. It was perfect.
First travel alone taught me I needed to learn how to travel more lightly. Really missed my hubby when trying to maneuver multiple suitcases. I've traveled quite a bit alone - recently went to Costa Rica for an art retreat - and it's ok. Would prefer to have my guy with me, but then I actually do feel he comes along and sees things through my eyes.