Planning a Vacation While Grieving

For some, the idea of planning a trip may be incredibly overwhelming following the death of a loved one. However, taking a vacation, regardless of how grandiose or modest it may be, can be extremely beneficial for those struggling with grief. Traveling to new places provides a fresh perspective, and seeing the world on a larger scale can help fight feelings of isolation one may feel while grieving. It shows you that there is a world outside of your grief—one that is still full of new opportunities and joys! This is easier said than done, so keep reading to learn more about how you can make your vacations and travels a little less stressful and a little more enjoyable.

Untitled Design (1)

Set realistic expectations

It’s easy to get carried away when planning a vacation. Brochures and commercials are filled with perfect images of smiling people and sunny weather. While vacations are certainly intended to be fun and exciting, after losing a loved one it’s important that you set realistic expectations. Don’t expect too much from yourself. Grief can drain a lot of your energy, so make sure you don’t plan too many energy-dependent activities. In most cases, a more relaxing vacation is most appropriate after a recent loss, such as a spa day, camping trip, or a quiet weekend at a bed and breakfast.

Be flexible

Grieving is a dynamic and unpredictable journey. No matter where you are on your personal journey, your emotions, mood, and energy can all change dramatically without warning. That’s why, when planning a vacation, it’s important to be patient and flexible with yourself. Don’t plan anything that can’t be easily cancelled or rescheduled, and it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan. In some cases, it may be good idea to plan a few different vacations, then see which fits best as the date gets closer. Having options takes some of the pressure off vacationing, and provides a more relaxed perspective on the whole process.

Communicate

Communication is undoubtedly one of the most important elements of journeying through grief, regardless of whether or not you choose to travel. However, if you do decide to vacation, communication becomes even more important. For those traveling with family, it’s important to be open and honest with each other. Everyone grieves differently. Certain activities or memories that may not be painful to you may be painful to someone else and vice versa. Therefore, talk about what you have planned for the trip and make sure everyone is comfortable. It may be helpful to plan activities specific to each family member to make sure everyone’s voice is heard. It’s always a good idea to communicate with God as well. Share your feelings, fears, and joys. He will be accompanying you on whatever journey you choose to go on.

The first vacation following the death of a loved will be the most difficult as the absence of the deceased person will be felt at its highest level. This pain will lessen with time, and just knowing this and anticipating the challenge will ease the current pain you feel and hopefully make it more tolerable. The pain is actually the love you feel for the absent person.  The stronger the love, the stronger the pain.  And everywhere love goes, grief goes too. So know that you will feel the absence even in another place, and be prepared to greet it and welcome it as part of the healing process.

Post written by Katie Karpinski

Summer and the Grief Journey

The summer months can be difficult for those who are grieving. While the cool air of fall and winter lend themselves to quiet evenings in, spring and summer do just the opposite. The warm weather encourages social outings, outdoor activities, and special vacations. For those who are grieving, this heightened expectation of interaction can be rather intimidating. However, there are ways to cope with the summer months, and even leverage the warm weather (and maybe even a vacation or two!) to help you progress along your grief journey. Keep reading to learn more.

Summer and the Grief Journey

  1. Go outside

It’s amazing what a little vitamin D can do for the body and the soul. It’s been proven that just a few minutes of sunlight a day can drastically impact a person’s energy, outlook, and general health. Vitamin D has also been proven to lower stress levels. So while it may be tempting to stay indoors, try to soak up some sun for at least ten minutes a day, even if that means just sitting on your front stoop or walking around your backyard.

  1. Travel

For some, the idea of planning a trip may be incredibly overwhelming following the death of a loved one. However, taking a vacation, regardless of how grandiose or modest it may be, can be extremely beneficial for those struggling with grief. Traveling to new places provides a fresh perspective, and seeing the world on a larger scale can help fight feelings of isolation one may feel while grieving. It shows you that there is a world outside of your grief—one that is still full of new opportunities and joys!

  1. Enjoy yourself

One of the hardest things many people struggle with while grieving is learning how to be joyful again. Some people may feel guilty for being happy or enjoying themselves following the death of a loved one. While these feelings may be hard to overcome, simply ask yourself “If our positions were reversed, wouldn’t I want my loved one to enjoy life again?” So let the warmer weather naturally uplift your mood and simply allow yourself to enjoy life. Take part in your favorite summer activities. If there are emotional memories attached to those activities, then try to explore and find new things that you can enjoy. Enjoying yourself also means you should take care of yourself. Take time to do the activities you enjoy, and turn away from those you don’t. Grief is an exhausting journey, so learn what your limits are and how much you can handle on a given day.

  1. Honor your loved one

Many people believe that the best way to conquer grief is to push memories and thoughts of their loved one to the wayside, but this simply isn’t true. Healthy grieving involves remembering and honoring your loved one, the life they lived, and the memories you shared together. Whether you’re traveling this summer or staying close to home, try to find a way to honor your loved one. Maybe it’s visiting their favorite vacation spot, or traveling to place they always wanted to visit. It may be as simple as preparing their favorite summer meal, or doing their favorite activity. Another simple way to honor your loved one is to thank God for the memories you shared and spend some time in quiet reflection in His presence. You’ll find that Christ will always bring wisdom and comfort.

If you’re in need of some extra support this summer, please join us for one of our Grief Support groups. Learn more at https://clecem.org/Information/Bereavement.aspx.

 

Post written by Katie Karpinski

 

Tending To Our Gardens

11-00014
This time of year, I marvel at the talents bestowed upon gardeners and farmers by God.  The sowing season entails so much planning, preparation and hard work.  After the crops or gardens are planted, there is an immense amount of care needed to insure a fruitful harvest; the watering, weeding, fertilizing and pruning. But after months of rigorous labor and meticulous care, the farmer and gardener reap the benefits of their hard work; Fresh fruits and vegetables that will be enjoyed by so many!

After the harvest, the land is turned and fertilized with the garden leftovers to prepare for the next growing season.  I can’t help but see similarities between our gardens and our human existence.

The Lord, our Master Gardener, meticulously planned and planted us exactly where He wanted us to be.   He feeds us spiritually with the Sacred Scriptures and the blessed Sacraments.  He weeds away anxiety, temptation, and human weakness through Divine Intervention of the Holy Spirit.  I compare hardship in our lives to the Lord pruning us to insure that we grow to our fullest potential and put our trust in Him.  That pruning sometimes hurts.  During this time, we may question our faith, our God, and our worth.  Gardeners know however, that after pruning a plant, new growth occurs.  Greener and fuller branches appear and the plant is healthier and bears more fruit.

May this summer bring you sunshine, soft rains and quiet times so that you may reflect on what a wonderful creation you are. Blessings.

Nancy Romaine

Bereavement Coordinator

Catholic Cemeteries Association