When children’s grief expert #JoePrimo said on #OptionB #TedTalks yesterday, “We can keep death and grief under the bed right next to the imaginary monster or we can shine a light on it and empower kids with hope healthy coping strategies,” I’m not sure taking your kids across the country in a broken down RV to spread their father’s ashes was what he had in mind, but it worked for us! Many miles of adventures later, my girls can now say their father “lives” in every state! They can also say they climbed mountains taller he was! And that they can change tires!
Here’s an excerpt from my UPCOMING book (June 2018) that speaks to the decision:
“It’s hard to make progress, to “move through the stages,” when there’s always something there to remind you. After a loss, everything looks the same, but the world becomes a totally different place. And there you are—stuck, sick to your stomach, and more stuck. You’re living in a slow motion hell with a pretend smile stapled to your work face.
“How about a camping trip?” I asked the girls cheerfully over our morning Cheerios.
They’d been camping before, but this time we’d go all the way to the Pacific Northwest. Oregon, Washington State, California; when I saw how their faces brightened, I knew it was the right decision. We needed to find a way back to joy. A trip like this would give us football fields of freedom—not enough to let Mark go, or so I thought, but enough to let us start living again, in our own way.
Away from everything, we’d owe nothing to anyone, even ourselves. It would just be me and the girls, spending sunny days in fields of wildflowers or walking for miles on overcast beaches, where we’d trace the letters of his name into the sand until the tides came in.
I could picture it all so vividly, traced in soft watercolors and smiles. We’d come across a wild blueberry bush and lay in the grass eating berries until it was bare, then jump in a rocky pool under a waterfall for a late afternoon swim before lighting a giant campfire. We’d stare up at the stars, sometimes not seeing a soul or saying a word for hours.
These were the things we needed to do. Far away from bills and death certificates and the house and his business suits and the hallway outside our bedrooms where he died.”