Next week is March Break for me. I’m going on a cruise with a good friend. I know, I am fortunate to be able to go on a cruise. I’ll be in the sun and heat and it will be fun. I am excited! I am also not though. It seems that I can’t just experience the normal one emotion of excitement for a trip. That in itself is frustrating. There always has to be something else mixed in there complicating things for me. A little bit of nervousness, memories, sadness, and guilt complicate my happiness.

Some of my mix of emotions starts with the fact that I’m going on vacation with a friend and not Mike. Don’t get me wrong, this friend is absolutely amazing and I am excited to vacation with her. She has been an amazing support right from the start and I love her. However, she is not Mike. I will be looking at many other happy, vacationing couples in love and missing my husband. I miss my vacations with him and that time together. If we were still married, one of those happy couples might have been us. If he were still here then we might be going on a cruise together. In fact, one of the best vacations I’ve had was a cruise with Mike. We both loved it and raved about it for a long time.

That is my next fear; the last cruise I went on was with Mike and I’m worried about triggers I might face. Will it be very similar? They are both Caribbean cruises but different islands. Will I be be thinking of our cruise a lot and be comparing them? Will I be able to deal with the triggers, if they appear? My usual travels are more active and adventurous and this one will be a lot of rest. I don’t do rest. It is too much idle time to think. I can fit enough thinking into my daily life as it is.  I don’t want to have a grief wave while I am on vacation. I want to be able to enjoy. I feel frustrated that I even think of this to begin with. However, while I can physically change my location and have a vacation there is really no vacation from grief. It follows me wherever I go. Maybe it distracts at points but it doesn’t go away. I just want to be able to handle it.

I also feel guilty. I know your reaction is probably that I shouldn’t. I know I shouldn’t; I am not doing anything wrong. That feeling just sticks there though. I feel guilty that I get to go on vacation and enjoy life while he is dead. I want him to be able to enjoy life too. I feel guilty for the trips I took without him while he was alive and we were together. I feel bad that he missed out then and I feel that bad he’s missing out now. I feel guilty that the reason I’m able to go on vacation (and often) is because he died. Not that it has stopped me from traveling- in the past (under) 2 years I’ve gone to Ireland, Iceland, Quebec (twice), Chicago, British Columbia (twice), Alberta, and Croatia. They have all been great trips but the feelings were always there. I mostly don’t care what people think but I sometimes wonder if others see my travels and think I am so lucky. But I would trade any of those trips to sit on the couch next to Mike just talking.

Lastly, I feel guilty for feeling bad. I feel like I should only feel happy to go on vacation, like a normal person, because I am fortunate but I just don't. People ask what my plans are and I tell them I’m going on a cruise and they are so excited for me. I don’t know if it has to do with the fact that I’m a widow still trying to live or if it’s just because it’s a vacation. I try to smile but there is so much going on behind that. I want to be more into the excitement of a trip. I really do. I use to be like that. I use to plan all the details of a trip. Now, I can’t even remember what islands we are visiting no matter how many times I look at the list and people ask me. It frustrates me. My friend planned the trip. Granted, this one is less to plan than a more open trip to a different country but there is still planning and she did it all. She asked me questions and I answered. I am literally just going. I haven’t even packed yet.

I know I will have fun on this trip just like I have on other trips. I know I will enjoy my friend’s company and we’ll build memories to laugh about later. I’m not looking for anyone to feel sorry for me because “boohoo, hard life, going on vacation” but instead just to understand my thinking. That happiness maybe isn’t an all-encompassing thing but its still there mixed in with other thoughts. I just hope that the happiness outweighs any of the negative feelings. I am looking forward to the break. I need it. It’s just a bit complicated.

Showing 9 reactions

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  • commented 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 2018-03-20 09:54:44 -0700
    Stephanie, I agree, it is my life and I need to do things that make me happy. I’m still working on the not feeling guilty. I don’t feel it all the time but it still comes. Like you, I haven’t let it stop me though. I got back out travelling really soon after Mike died. Those first trips weren’t exactly my choice and were more planned for me…my cousin literally bought me a plane ticket and flew me to Chicago 2 months later. It was nice to do something different than sitting around being sad. Instead, I visited a city I liked (and cousin I love) and was sad there :P
  • commented 2018-03-19 08:07:31 -0700
    Getting out there is SOOOOO hard but you have had the opportunity to do so and I wish I would have much sooner than I did. The trips I’ve taken since Mike died will be with me forever…and yes, he was with me every step of the way. I carried the grief of wishing he were there…I watched other happy couples wondering, how on earth is that guy still alive when Mike didn’t make it…I feel sorry for myself, I miss the life we had…and yet, I have other, new, and yes, fun memories. And it’s not just that he would have wanted that for me. It’s that I now realize, after five years, that it’s my life, and I have the right to populate it with joy and fun and friends and not feel guilty. But yeah. That takes a long time. And the guilt kind of never really leaves. I guess I just learned how to live with the feeling and not let it take away the chance to continue living. If someone were to ask me what grief was, I might answer in a thousand different ways. But after reading your post, today, it might be…learning to live with the guilt, and making a place for friends, fun and live beside it. xoxo
  • commented 2018-03-12 18:42:25 -0700
    I can totally relate to every word said here. My husband of 35 years suddenly just gone with a massive heart attack. No time to say goodbye. No time to ask if he felt pain. No time to find out a millon things. Why oh why. My entire life fell apart. This happened on 13.05.2015. Time can never ever end grief. I miss the me when i was wirh him. We did everything together. We end each sentences. My world is black and white. In the mornings its fresh all over. Everyday is a challenge just to do anything. My support in times of stress.. my everything..i lost my was shattered that night. It cannot be the same ever again. My heart died that night his did…dobt even know how i am still alive. A shattered heart thar still beats is a miracle.
  • commented 2018-03-11 08:49:54 -0700
    I agree with April, you have captured the emotions we go through when facing what is supposed to be a happy occasion. My passion is traveling! Although I have traveled often since my husband’s death 6 years ago, I still tend to avoid places we visited together, going on a cruise to the Caribbean being one of them. I know I will one day, and I know the triggers will come followed by tears, but that’s okay; for me it is a reminder of how strong our love was (and is). I find though, as we walk along this journey of grief, that those tears tend to recall joyful memories and less so feeling bad (or guilty) that he is no longer at my side. I don’t find myself as sad as I used to when I see happy couples. Instead I remember the love I shared with my husband and I’m ever grateful I had that, and who knows, maybe I will again! I pray you will enjoy the trip and the great memories!
  • commented 2018-03-09 05:31:18 -0800
    April, I can understand that fear that it will always be like this. I think I’ve almost accepted that happy moments will have some mixed emotions in there. I’m hoping they are less frequent as time passes but I don’t expect them to disappear altogether. I think that is even okay because it just reminds me that I have had wonderful times with Mike. It’s a reminder of the love.
  • commented 2018-03-09 05:27:35 -0800
    Marybeth, I hope you have a great trip to Italy. I loved Italy when I visited a few years ago. I agree, it can be hard to get going but same as you, I have always continued to go and I’ve never regretted it. I do still enjoy but there’s moments of missing too. Thanks for your comment!
  • commented 2018-03-08 20:12:17 -0800
    I’m going on an amazing trip to Italy next month. I love to travel and have continued to do so since losing my husband almost 2 1/2 years ago. I am leaving on what would have been our 32nd wedding anniversary. I know there will be tears, I almost always am emotional flying without him BUT I push ahead and have not regretted any of my trips. Allow the tears and moments of missing him and being part of a couple BUT enjoy what you can of this life we still have to live.
  • commented 2018-03-08 09:12:34 -0800
    Oh my gosh, Olivia, you have written so beautifully about what it is SO like for us, for me since my husband died, the mix of complicated emotions at every moment. Also, my biggest fear is that it will ALWAYS be like this, for the rest of my life. Will happiness always be laced with sadness, missing them, anger they’re not here, hurt at seeing reminders everywhere of what we’ve lost, all mixed in with a beautiful day, or happy or laughing moments? It just makes me want to break down thinking about it. How to make sense out of all of it. But maybe we can all sort it out together. Keep us posted on how you translate it all into a beautiful trip. April