I am OK – Grieving While on the Road

22nd January 2015

My dad took his own life when I was 21. Through the pain, I vividly remember the feeling of relief I felt that he had set himself free, that he had found a way out of a life that wasn’t made for him. Please don’t take this as me saying that suicide is a solution because it is not. This is just my personal way of coping with the loss of my father. I was and still am happy that he ended his suffering in the only possible way. End of story.

I’d always been a bit of a wild child and this event gave me the urge and the financial means to go after my happiness and seek my own freedom. This is really where it all started for me. I had no idea what I was going after, how long I wanted to be gone for or what the hell I was going to do, but those were trivial questions; all I really wanted was to go get lost and perhaps find myself somewhere – anywhere. Out of the last twelve years, I spent half of them away from home, either actively travelling or living and working abroad. Should it have not been for the time I wanted to spend back in Canada getting a degree, I would have spent all of those years away. Because travel is what makes me feel happy and free. In a way, the end of my dad’s life was the beginning of mine.

However, there’s this one thing that has been nagging at me since day one: the guilt of leaving my mom alone. Now, this is completely silly, because my mom is a strong, independent and resilient woman that really does not need any looking after or worrying from her estranged daughter. I suppose I take this from my grandma: I worry. It’s like a part-time job. Fortunately, four years into my travels, my mom met this wonderful, amazing man that loved her and respected her. He took care of her the way my dad hadn’t and I felt so thankful for him. He moved in with her and, knowing her happy and loved like this, I went about my travelling worry-free. When I came back home to go to University, I met this gentle giant with kind blue eyes and instantly loved him like a father. He made us complete.

When I left for this trip a year ago, my family and I said our goodbyes like we always have: teary-eyed, but lightheartedly because these things always go fast and we knew that next thing we’d know we’d all be reunited around the table playing cards and drinking beer.

Only, it’s wasn’t like that this time. Cancer harrowed through my beautiful family and took the gentle giant away from my mom in a matter of months, without having time for me to realize what was happening. He was in perfect health when we kissed goodbye a year ago. I just can’t believe what I am writing. Worry is creeping back up at my throat and I feel so guilty for my absence. My heart is like a ton of bricks in my chest. I am so sorry. I am having a lot of trouble making sense of this lifestyle I have chosen for myself right now. I’m really not one to wear my heart on my sleeve in life, and I apologize if you come here for travel advice, but this had to come out. I figured it would help with the bereavement. Grief doesn’t come with instructions, but apparently laying this down is the first step towards acceptance. Life goes on. We are moving on. I am OK.

16 thoughts on “I am OK – Grieving While on the Road

  1. Lauren Webster

    You are such a beautiful writer Amelie!!! I’m so sorry for your loss and am thinking of you and your family at this difficult time.
    Thanks for always being so inspirational and wording things in such an artistic way. Sometimes I think I’m living vicarioisly through you 🙂 Never lose sight of your dreams!! xoxo

  2. Andrea Anastasiou

    Amelie, this is a beautiful post, but I’m so sorry that it had to come from a place of great pain. Hope you start to feel a bit better soon.

  3. Sandra

    Hi Amélie, I don’t know you or your mom but I did know gentle giant. He sure was, like you said a wonderful and amazing person. Sam always had a smile on his face a word of encouragement and a compliment, a very, very nice man. He would always say “surtout, garde ton sourire… il te va a merveille!”
    To you and your Mom, I offer my deepest sympathies. Sam will be missed by many.
    Good luck in your travellings, love to read your stories, very interesting! Hugs

  4. Tianna

    I love this post. And you. You are strong and beautiful. I am a worrier too so I totally understand. I don’t know what I would really do but hypothetically, if this were my situation and I was your mom, I would be so happy you were living your dream despite my grief. BUT I am not your mom or you so all I can say is that I get it and I love you. Gorgeous post mon amie.

  5. Franca

    Amélie I’m so sorry for what you had to go through and for your losses. It must be so though for you, I can try and understand how you feel because, even if I didn’t exactly go through all you did, I do feel guilty for being away from the people I love to follow the life I choose for myself. Then I think that if I was still at ‘home’ and very unhappy, the people that care about me wouldn’t want to see me that way, they would like to see me happy and follow my dreams.

    1. Amélie Post author

      Thanks, Franca. My mum keeps telling me that he would have hated to see us ending our trip for them. I know it makes my mum happy to know I am happy too, and that feel a little better. I just feel so guilty for not being there for her, and I also feel that as long as I don’t go back home I can still afford to be in denial about this whole thing and think this is all just a long nightmare… X

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  9. Karl

    Hey Amélie. Thanks for sharing that. I’ve just lost my mom a month ago, cancer too. I think I get what you talk about. Though I was there and I saw her the day before the end, now even when I left for only a week, I felt guilty for leaving my father alone. Now I don’t even know wether or how I’ll cope with this guilt or not in a couple of months as I’ll leave for two months. I never felt guilty for leaving that “long” or even thinking to move permanently on the other side of the planet. Now I don’t know. I know we get better with time but I guess nothing stays the same after you taste that kind of grief. Hope you found peace with this.

    1. Amélie Post author

      No, you are right, nothing tastes the same, but you have to get acquainted with the new reality and accept it as it is, otherwise it’ll be a neverending struggle. My thoughts are with you on the loss of your mother Karl. I hope you take this time away for yourself without too many feelings of guilt and worry, you as much as your dad need to grief and I am sure he respects that <3


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