Travel Through Grief: Surviving the Holidays

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My husband passed away in late September—and in those early months of grief everything is so raw. Even with an incredible support system, I did not want to be around people. I could not imagine enduring the family dynamics for the holidays.

In what I called a ‘preemptive strike’, I headed to Manhattan by myself for the Thanksgiving weekend. I flew on Thanksgiving day (brilliant! – I was able to honestly decline the several join-us-for-dinner offers that I received and the airport was a breeze).

I spent all of Friday and Saturday walking Central Park. I had a few destinations along the way. The Guggenheim had a great exhibit, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is always a must-see—but mostly I just walked around the park for hours on end. Central Park is the perfect place for anonymity – I talked to Vince almost the entire time and no one even glanced my way. In this sense, it felt like I was spending the holiday weekend with him, and only him.

On the second afternoon I rented a bike for a couple of the hours, just to see how quickly I could get around the park. I walked to and from the park along 5th Avenue so I could take in all the holiday decorations—and finished both nights with a show (The Humans and Waitress). So while Central Park was the main attraction, it felt like a well-rounded weekend in the city.

The downside? A lavish weekend away right after he passed did raise a few eyebrows. No one said it outright, but there was a sense of ‘good for you – you’re moving on’. Hardly. But distractions in the early grief stages can be helpful. And because Vince and I shared a love of travel (and good food), a 3-day weekend to avoid family time where the food would undoubtedly not be as good as the year before—when Vince was the cook—just made sense.

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