Friday, November 18, 2011

Proactive Distraction

Some of the best advice I received from my counselor in the weeks following Jonathan's death was to be proactive about the holidays.  Since he died on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years were right around the corner.  And without a plan they were sure to feel like salt in our open wound of death.  She said not to wait and see what would happen on the holidays, but to make a plan, perhaps even go out of town.  It was great counsel, and I followed.  My son and I went away over New Year's to an indoor waterpark and had the best New Year's Celebration I can remember!

Since the approach worked so well for New Years, and even our wedding anniversary I figured a little proactive distraction would be perfect for this first year anniversary.  I really didn't want to face being in our home, where he died on the day he died.  It seems a little overwhelming for me.  In addition family holidays are not the same.  Not only has Jonathan left a hole, but out of the 8 family members that were regulars, 4 have passed away in the past 2 years, including my sister last spring.  So the 4 of us staring at each other, with empty spots at the table just isn't appealing. Its time to start making some new traditions.

Our new Thanksgiving tradition is skip town and head to the Caribbean.  That's right, this year I will be sailing aboard a cruise ship over Thanksgiving.  I anticipate this will help me to walk through the first anniversary a little easier.  In no way to expect it to take the hurt, pain, or sadness away from the anniversary date.  I know I will still feel those things.  Perhaps my parents and I will have a conversation about him.  Maybe I will order steak that night in his memory, or even play a hand of texas hold 'em in his honor.  I am sure in some way I'm going to commemorate the day.  But having somethings to look forward to, instead of dread, are going to make the day bearable.

I'm curious to see how I handle cruising without him.  We had gone on 2 previous cruises, both with my parents.  And now hear I am ready to embark on a caribbean exploration without him.  I wonder if visiting Islands we had previously been to together will bring back memories.  Much like walking into Lelli's Restaurant brought me to tears so unexpectedly last fall on my dad's birthday.  Everywhere I looked I saw him, we had many memories in that restaurant, and it showed on my face the moment I entered.  Will that happen on the ship?  Will I remember the stair way where we took pictures? Will I be saddened swimming in the pool without him?  What will I feel as I pass by pirate themed merchandise on the Islands, or walk past a cigar shop?  They are all memories of him and our previous trips.

I hope that as I venture on this trip that I will remember him.  I hope that I will be able to, for a moment, forget the hurt, pain and frustration of the last few years and remember a different man and a different time.  I want to remember how in love we were on that first cruise.  I need to recall the fun adventures we found on the ship.  I think that I need to remember those times.  I believe it is part of my healing.

I believe that God has a plan for this trip, and He has healing on His mind.  I know He is going to get me through the anniversary day, and it is going be beautiful. Instead of sitting home and inviting overwhelming grief, we are going to be walking the sand beaches of Mexico.  We are going to be reflecting on this past year.  We are going to be remembering Jonathan.  We are going to be sad.  But we will be together.  And we will be okay!

1 comment:

  1. Good for you, Jenn! I have found few things more helpful than distraction during my grief walk! God bless you as you blend distraction with remembering in such a beautiful way. Savor and celebrate the good memories as you thank God that you have them to look back on. May much healing come from your time away!