I am not a huge fan of the acronym YOLO. (Dad, this means You Only Live Once. He is one of the biggest readers and printers of my blog, so thought I should elaborate at least for him). However, I can appreciate its sentiment since losing Shawn so tragically and unexpectedly to suicide. We do only have this one life to live, so we really should try and make the most of it.
This June, I had the opportunity to go to Seattle with my friend, Stephanie, to visit her cousin. It is a place I had always wanted to see and I could do it very cheaply. Sounds perfect, right? Yet, I hesitated. Grief and loss have a funny way of making you feel guilty for living. I have to continually remind myself that Shawn would want me to be happy. He would want me to live fully. So, I went.
Vacation To-Do List After Loss
Do something that challenges you physically. I have barely exercised since losing Shawn. I just do not have the will or energy. I could have taken a three mile walk and that would have challenged me. However, I now had enough strength to hike up a mountain. The sweat and shortness of breath were definitely worth the end result.
Make your friend take a ridiculous photo with you. This will just make you laugh. It has no other purpose. Your friend, who thought this was a stupid idea, will be so happy to have the cute photo. And yes, that is a beaver backpack.
See something that takes your breath away. The views in Washington were absolutely breathtaking. The pictures do not do it justice. My aunt had recently sent a card to me and in it she wrote, “Let nature nurture you.” So I did just that. There is so much beauty in the world. Find it. Experience it. Be grateful for it.
See and experience something new. This was not too hard as I had never been to Washington or Oregon. I was able to see two new cities-Seattle and Portland. I saw the Space Needle, Pikes Place Market, Mount Rainier, and the gum wall. All new experiences and sights for me.
Do something that makes your heart happy. I love, love, love books. In Portland, we visited a giant book store. I know this would not be everyone’s first choice, but being surrounded by books makes me weirdly happy. I’m odd. If I had any suitcase space, I would have easily spent a lot of my money there.
Make yourself pretty (or handsome) for at least one night. I know it is important to take care of myself while grieving. However, I often tend to neglect my personal appearance. Sweats and ponytails are the norm. I do know though that I will feel better about myself when I make an effort to look decent. So for one night, I did. We then went out downtown Portland and were home by 11:30. This is supposedly the time when night life just begins–making it clear that I am no longer 21.
Overall, it was a great vacation and I am so glad I went. I will say this though–even thousands of miles away, I did not escape my grief. There were moments I cried and every single day Shawn was still on my mind. I did manage to experience many more moments of joy, however, intertwined within the pain.
Maybe if we just start living, we will begin to feel alive again too. YOLO.