Grief Travel: How Travel Helped My Grieving of My Mother’s Death

Last Updated on March 2, 2023

I don’t often talk about the personal side of my travel blog that often. But this is quite an important topic for me. I’m not afraid to talk about grief and the effects of it. I grew up with a large family.  But within that large family, we have had to face death more times than I can count. When I was 15 I lost my mother to a brain haemorrhage.

It was a horrific time in my life. I went to college, I got a call before lunchtime and rushed to the hospital to basically get ready to say goodbye to her as bleeding would not stop. Within a 24-hour period, I had lost my best friend, my mother, my rock. Just writing this brings tears to my eyes. I don’t want to dwell on the negative because that’s not what this article is about and I know my mother would be telling me to cheer up.

Grief Travel: How Travel Helped My Grieving of My Mother’s Death Grief Travel: How Travel Helped My Grieving of My Mother’s Death

How I came into grief travel

Fast forward to when I was 19 years old I found myself in another hard time of my life.  Actually I just felt like life was hard, everything was hard. All I wanted to do was run away and do something new but I just had no direction. Until I found myself at the travel agents collecting brochures on Europe and other amazing places around the world. It was only within a couple of weeks that I had decided to book a one-way ticket to London.  I moved there for two years.  This was my first taste of grief travel.

I hadn’t even applied for my visa yet (silly I know) but I knew this is what I had to do and I knew it was going to happen. Next I put down payments on two tours so when I got to Europe I was forced to meet new people. For a girl who had never travelled solo before I was scared shitless.

Grief Travel: How Travel Helped My Grieving of My Mother’s Death

Now I am 23 and I have started to reflect on how travel has changed my life and the other day I knew I need to write this. At the end of the day, grief made me travel and travel has helped my grieving of the loss of my mother. It will never heal it but it has helped it a lot. Actually, there are many situations where I feel travel can help heal. Maybe travelling can help with a broken heart, or another bad time in your life?

There are a few of similarities between grief and travelling. Grief can make you more empathetic of other people’s situations. You understand what people go through when they lose someone they love. Travelling also makes you more empathetic because you see different cultures. You see the hardships of other countries and it makes you more empathetic and open-minded. Grief is also thought-provoking, it makes you think about how life is short and why do these types of thing happen to good people. Similarly, travel is also thought-provoking. It brings forth a lot of questions about how the world is and why does it have to be that way.

I cannot tell you the scientific reason why travel can help with grief (sorry, I am not Einstein).  But I can tell you that in my personal experience that it has helped greatly and still helps to this day. I love being able to hike to the top of the mountain, reflect, getting fresh air and seeing a new landscape. I love the feeling when you turn up to a new country and think “Holy cow, I cannot believe I am here”. Every single time I am in a new place I always say to myself ‘there you go, Mum, look at this’ as if my Mum is travelling around the world with me. In my heart I know she is.

Grief Travel: How Travel Helped My Grieving of My Mother’s Death Grief Travel: How Travel Helped My Grieving of My Mother’s Death

If you’re really struggling with something right now, whether it’s grief or a broken heart, then have a think. Ask yourself, do you need a fresh breath of air or a change in your routine? You hear stories all the time of people being dumped so they head to the other side of the world. You may even hear someone say “I hate my job, I’m depressed, I’m going to move to Bali”! There’s some reason behind the madness.

Celebrate life because you never know when it could end. If you were to leave this world tomorrow would you be happy about what you have done so far? Grief has created this amazing appreciation of something that is so sacred: life. Make some happy memories, celebrate the world that surrounds us and try travelling. Even if it’s to a new town in your country. Get away from the routines, from your bed and the comforts. It took me 4 years after my mother died to get out of that comfort zone and thank goodness I did.

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The Comments

  • Megan Indoe
    November 6, 2016

    I am so sorry you lost your mother at such a young age. Losing a loved one is never easy to cope with. I am so happy that you found travel as a way to help you. It looks and sounds like you have had some incredible experiences. Thanks for opening up and sharing such a personal story about your life.

  • Carol from Wayfaring Views
    November 6, 2016

    This has been on my mind lately. My mom was an inveterate traveler but she’s now quite ill. I will soon find myself in your position and am wondering how I will feel when it happens. Travel is healing

  • Tamara Elliott
    November 6, 2016

    Beautiful story, so sorry for your loss.

    • Brownsugar
      > Tamara Elliott
      August 21, 2022

      Many condolences 8-21-2022

      I was just running through my Internet looking for something on grieving. And yes my child I feel lost my mother August 20, 2020 I am much older mother had dementia and I just retired 12-1-2014 in the next month . Unknowing I was about to inherit /raising my mother for four years until she was placed in a nursing home for a 18 months ( mother went home to glory ) and I grieved all that year in the next like two picked up and decided to change my surroundings when I travel from Pittsburgh to Kissimmee Florida for a week and here I am (8-20-2022). The day mother went home to Glory : Let’s see how this will be for me . Thank you & God Bless

      • Anita Hendrieka
        > Brownsugar
        August 22, 2022

        Sending you lots of love at this time 💕 I wish you all the best on your new adventure.

  • ANne
    November 6, 2016

    I’m so sorry you lost your mum so young. I lost my mum about the same time as you lost yours but I was 34 and I still felt totally cheated. I definitely get what you mean anout your mum travelling with you though.

  • practicalwanderlust
    November 6, 2016

    I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s fantastic that you’ve taken a dark period in your life and turned it into something so positive! How motivating!

  • Lillie
    November 6, 2016

    Such a difficult thing to live through. Thank you for sharing your experience, as your breakthroughs via travel could help inspire many others.

  • Claudia Laroye
    November 7, 2016

    I’m very sorry for your loss. I’m glad that you found travel a positive outlet for the healing process. I’m sure it was both a celebration of life and of mourning, but a necessary one. Best wishes.

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > Claudia Laroye
      November 11, 2016

      Thank you 🙂

  • durhamslovelifetravel
    November 7, 2016

    Beautiful Story and very sorry about the loss of your mom! It must have been so difficult! I have always thought that traveling is healing, in grief, hard times, stressful times, cross roads etc. There is something so surreal about traveling solo and pushes you to your limits and forces you to open your mind and also opens you up to personal growth! Really nice article!

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > durhamslovelifetravel
      November 11, 2016

      Thank you so much for reading 🙂

  • wanderingwagarschristina
    November 7, 2016

    It is truly amazing how many positive effects traveling has. I am happy to read that it has helped with your grief. I know for me, I must travel as it rejuvinates me. Seeing a new part of the world and witnessing new cultures while overcoming the challenges that come with family travel has definitely created strong bonds between us but I believe has also made each of us stronger.

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > wanderingwagarschristina
      November 11, 2016

      Beautifully said!

  • arzotravels
    November 7, 2016

    So sorry to hear your mom when you were still too young. I am happy you found a way to deal with it though. I love traveling but I am not sure what would help me if I would suffer such a loss.

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > arzotravels
      November 11, 2016

      Thank you for reading 🙂

  • Jub (@tikitouringkiwi)
    November 7, 2016

    Awesome! Have to say I was a bit scared to read this piece because males hate feelings and stuff. But I agree with ya travel is a great source of healing grief. It certainly isn’t going to harm anyway.

    On a scale of 1 to Proud, Mum would be pretty darn proud of how you turned out 🙂

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > Jub (@tikitouringkiwi)
      November 11, 2016

      Naw thanks Jub!!! Tu Meke

  • Rach
    November 8, 2016

    Wow you made me cry!!. I may be one of your older Sisters but you have taught us so much about resilience, about getting on and following your dream. The light you brought the family in times of darkness has helped us all heal. The laughter with you (sometimes at you!), the sadness with you and the learning with you as you as you travel the world learning about different cultures and ways of life. I too lost My best friend the day our Mum passed but am forever thankful she left me with another best friend in you!. Go forward my sweet Sister and keep writing, one day my turn will come to travel (once the kids leave home) and i have a list of all the places you’ve told me about that i will get to see. Love you to the Moon and Back!!!!

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > Rach
      November 11, 2016

      Love you lots sis xxx Thanks for your beautiful message 🙂

  • Nisha
    November 13, 2016

    Hey Anita, I am very sorry for your loss at such a young age. Losing a loved one is never easy to cope with. I am so happy that travel has helped you. Thanks for such a inspiring story.

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > Nisha
      November 15, 2016

      Thanks for reading 🙂

  • Katie Featherstone
    January 10, 2017

    I’m really sorry for your loss. I also met another girl who was travelling after her mum had died, she also said it helped. Maybe it’s just the breathing space and room to think, but I do think that being outside in nature is good for your mental health too.

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > Katie Featherstone
      January 12, 2017

      Thanks for reading 🙂

  • Skye
    January 10, 2017

    Beautiful reflective piece honey. Your mum would be very proud of you. Xx

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > Skye
      January 12, 2017

      Thank you 🙂 I am glad you liked it! x

  • Chay
    October 24, 2019

    So sorry for your loss, I lost my ex bf who is also my best friend earlier this year and I’m struggling, I’m planning to go travelling for a few weeks abroad in January and hope it helps

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > Chay
      November 3, 2019

      Sending you lots of love at this time! Have an amazing time travelling, where are you going to go?