Olivia Arnold

Vacation Reflection

Well, I’m back from vacation. It was really good. I knew it would be. I also knew there would be some tough moments and there were. For starters, on the plane as I sat in the first row with the only TV in the plane directly in front of me the movie “Coco” played. I had been warned by other widows that it was a good but heart wrenching movie that tricks you by seeming like a harmless kids’ cartoon. I hadn’t had a chance to watch it yet. Ideally, I would have watched it on my own in my house but here it was in front of me. So I thought, “let’s do this,” and plugged in my headphones. If you haven’t watched it, I do recommend it. Be prepared to be emotional though. It’s basically about the importance of remembering people who have died and how you give them a second life by remembering them. It included some “insight” into an after-life showing how you will die and disappear completely once no one living remembers you. If you aren’t a widow then I guess there could be a different storyline but this is what I saw. So yes, I sat in the first row of the plane and I cried and I didn’t really care. Maybe in a way starting my trip with this movie was needed for me to acknowledge the grief I carry and release it right from the start. It let me feel so I could then be free to enjoy. I stepped off the plane ready for vacation.

The islands were hot, sunny, and beautiful. I can now remember which ones I visited (St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Antigua, St. Lucia, Barbados) and I enjoyed my time with my friend Heather. On the islands, we went on a catamaran, tried Snuba, went snorkeling (and saw the cutest turtles - eeeek), went to multiple beaches, met up with one of her family friends, explored some historical sites and explored local towns and shops. There was always lots to do on the ship as well in the evenings including a Whitney Houston tribute show. The singer acknowledged people who are grieving and have loved and lost someone too soon before singing, “I Will Always Love You” (exceptionally well, I might add). I cried (and again, didn’t care that I was crying). I appreciated it. Those little moments where I can acknowledge my grief seem to help me and provide the little release I need to keep moving forward. Heather was an amazing friend, as always, and was supportive of me when I needed it. It’s so nice to have good friends.


Read more
Add your reaction Share


When I started this journey as a young widow I felt extremely alone. I didn’t know anyone anywhere near my age that had been through anything close to what I was experiencing. I didn’t know if what I was feeling was normal or insane. I kept a lot to myself. I started researching books and reading about others’ experiences. That was so very helpful but I still needed more. I wanted people currently experiencing the balance of death and life. I eventually found people online (e.g., Instagram, Facebook groups) and I can’t explain to you the difference it made connecting with people. Many times it really wasn’t connecting; it was reading other people’s posts and not having the courage, words, or energy to respond. It still helped me though. To know that other people right here and right now were experiencing something similar to what I was experiencing made me feel less crazy and less alone.

Eventually, just over a year ago I decided that I wanted to contribute to this community. I felt like I was in a space that I could start to give back, even just a little bit, to maybe help even just one person. I started my personal blog not knowing where it would go. I wasn’t afraid of failure but I was afraid of opening up and letting others see and respond to my thoughts and feelings that I protected so closely inside of me. Maybe you wouldn’t know it from my writing but I’m actually a very private person. I’ve always kept a lot to myself; so guarded that sometimes I think I was so good at it that I was able to hide my feelings and thoughts from myself as well. My mind started to protect myself from myself.  Moving from that mindset to share my thoughts with others was scary. Still, I knew I wanted to do it and I wanted to find the courage to be be in touch with my thoughts and share them. I had gained so much from others who shared their innermost thinking and I wanted to do the same.

Read more
7 reactions Share

  • commented on Vulnerability 2018-03-20 09:47:38 -0700
    Thanks Stephanie! I do find it healing to write. Yes, not healed but together in the process so not alone. Thanks for your comment!

  • commented on Vacation 2018-03-20 09:57:36 -0700
    Thanks Cindy! Other than the Caribbean I haven’t traveled to the same places without Mike. However, my travelling philosophy is more so in seeing as many places as I can so I am not inclined to go back for other reasons. Caribbean is an easy relaxing vacation so I had to move past my reservations with that one. I agree, the triggers can be a reminder of what a wonderful love we had. I don’t try to stop it. I let it come; happened a few times on this trip.

  • commented on The Me Now 2018-03-07 18:39:57 -0800
    Thanks Stephanie for the warm welcome! I’m sorry for the very slow response. I realized I can only respond to comments on my laptop and it doesn’t post from my phone.

    Teresa W, that’s great you’re from Ontario! Maybe see you at Camp Widow!

    Teresa Renee, it was a pleasure meeting you too. Your words are so true! Thank you for sharing them!

  • commented on The Me in the We 2018-03-07 18:37:09 -0800
    Thanks Gayle!

  • commented on Why I Smile 2018-03-07 18:36:36 -0800
    Indira, I know the feeling of a shattered heart. I’m sorry for your loss.

  • commented on My Family 2018-03-07 18:34:03 -0800
    Teresa, I know I am very fortunate to have them. I definitely appreciate them!

  • commented on I'm Building my Wings on the Way Down 2018-01-06 11:47:25 -0800
    Loved this post. The first paragraph about not wanting to ring in the new year without him, now or never really resonated with me. Thank you!

Doing things a late twenty-something woman does...as a widow. Re-creating my life and identity, being outdoors, adventurous and active, teaching, laughing and crying, and living my new life a little less seriously.
Donate Volunteer Membership