Grief Travel: How Travel Helped My Grieving of My Mother’s Death
Last Updated on March 2, 2021 by Anita Hendrieka
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.
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.
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.
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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