Why is travel such a comfort after loss? Is it that being on the move gives shape and purpose to a life when there is no shape or purpose left? My first thought after Laura died was to cut free of my normal existance, which was in tatters, and take refuge in travel. I went to Europe and then to the American South West for a month’s hiking. Frankly I could still journey on and on.
I know I am not alone in feeling like this. James (who Laura and I met at the Gerson Clinic and who lost his wife Becky last year), grabbed his dog, bought an old VW van and has clocked over 20,000 miles traveling back and forth from Alaska to California. Another friend of a friend drove round trip across America after losing her partner. And a couple of other friends are simply traveling around New York. Melodie, who lost her mom a week after losing Laura (and then was diagnosed with breast cancer!), took up cycling soon after. She has covered all five boroughs of New York on a folding bike and started a blog http://www.bikeloveny.com. When I asked if all this locomotion helped her think and process her losses, she said: ‘No. I would rather hear someone else’s thoughts than my own.’ Instead, cycling is more about ‘running away while staying put.’ My friend Loredana, who lost her husband Enzo, is a a super walker. She can circumvent the perimeter of Manhattan in a day. How does walking help? ‘It makes me feel alive again; as if life goes forward. When I come home afterwards I am smiling,’ she says.