That First Summer Vacation

Summer time is here and with it you may be planning a vacation. If you have recently suffered the death of your child, that first vacation can be very difficult. I would like to share with you our experience the first time we took a vacation after our son, Paul, died. I have included some suggestions to help you through your first vacation and to help you plan around your grief.

If any of you are planning a vacation, here are some suggestions that may help.

  • Be gentle with yourself. Don’t expect too much on your first vacation. Remember as bereaved parents, the first time we do anything without our kids is tough whether it be going to the movies, shopping or on a vacation.
  • Plan to do some grief work because you will, planned or not. Give yourself time enough on the trip if you have a bad day so that you can just do what you feel like doing.
  • Know that your child will be on your mind day and night just as he or she is at home. Our grief goes with us.
  • Plan to do something your child would have loved to do, but did not get a chance to. Plan this in his or her memory.
  • If you plan to visit relatives for the first time since your child’s death, remember they mean well even if they seem insensitive with their remarks. They have not lost a child and can’t see through your eyes.
  • If you have other children, remember them. They are also having a hard time coping on this vacation. Plan some activities that will be especially for them.
  • Be especially careful to communicate with your spouse. Plan a vacation that is suitable for both of your needs. Remember you are both grieving for the same child, but we all grieve differently and in our own way.
  • If you have been maintaining your child’s grave site and feel guilty about leaving it unattended, let a family member or friend see to it while you are away. You need not feel guilty and it could fill a need for one of your family.

–  Dianna Hammock, Central Coast, CA

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