The holidays roll in and I can feel the density of the air increase. My body desperately wants to recoil. It’s an odd year. In the language of divorce this is how I monitor my level of holiday disengagement. On odd years my ex has the kids. No kids means less holiday hoopla.
To understand my response to the holidays, you have to peel back my layers. My grief story is compounded by a lack of relationship with my children’s father, the deaths of both of my parents and the tragic loss of my life partner.
I am proof. For me, grief is forever an oscillation between warm reminders and jolting triggers. The pangs persist. After seven years since my last loss, I still run. My close nucleus of friends know that this is part of who I am. This is how I survive. To honor that, they always let me go.
And so despite the pandemic, I took to the skies. It’s was risky and bold given the uncertain times we are living. My emotional mindset had been dark leading up to the holidays. The pandemic paired with my personal and professional struggles over recent months had amplified my need to escape. And so I found myself across the country desperately seeking a reset.
It has taken me years to master the recipe for traveling alone. There must be just enough days to feel like a vacation with a scheduled departure before loneliness sets in. Restaurants need to be lively enough to feel like I am dining with company but not so lively that I stick out like a sore thumb when dining alone. As I sat at Christmas dinner overlooking majestic west coast mountains a sigh of relief escaped me because I had managed to survive another holiday flying solo.
So it didn’t matter that I faced numerous flight cancellations and hours of repeated delays to get back to New York. When people ask me how this holiday was I will be truthful. It was hard. But as I touchdown on the last leg of my journey the air is lighter. I feel brighter and I know I obtained my “reset.” Don’t let anyone lead you to believe there is a right or wrong way to survive your grief. I am proof. You just need to find “your way.”
Kim Libertini is all too familiar with grief and the Co-Founder of Goodgrief App, the social network for loss available FREE for download in the App Store, Google Play and www.goodgriefapp.com. You can follow Goodgrief App on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
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