My ex-husband recently took my three children on an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime trip to Africa – a wildlife safari in Tanzania. (How come he never suggested a trip like that when I was married to him? Oh well . . . I digress . . . ) My 16 year old kept an extremely detailed journal so that she would be able to record and remember every detail. She allowed me to read it so that I could get a feel for her trip. So I was sitting next to her, reading, commenting every few pages “Did you really see a baby giraffe with an umbilical cord still attached to its mother?” “Did a wild zebra really come right up to your tent porch?” when she burst into tears. “Stop reminding me . . . I miss it so much!” she sobbed. “Oh honey,” I exclaimed, “You’ve got a case of the post-vacation blues.”
I know this syndrome oh so well. I get desperately sad after wonderful trips have ended. Heck, I even get a little sad when lousy trips have ended. There’s just something so delicious about the planning and anticipation of a trip. And when it’s over . . . well, it’s just SO over. Done. Finite.
I’ve tried different strategies to cope with this sadness. Sometimes I immerse myself in the photographs, scrapbooks, journals to keep reliving the trip. Sometimes, I avoid thinking about the trip altogether and just throw myself into the mountain of mail, emails, laundry, and messages that have greeted me upon my arrival home. And sometimes, I just create a diversion tactic by planning or fantasizing about a future vacation . . . whenever that might be.
I have noticed, however, that the best solution is simply to acknowledge my grief. If I just sit with the sadness (for an hour, a day, a week even), it gradually starts to dissipate. And as it starts to burn off, like mist in the morning, I’m able to feel gratitude that I experienced the trip in the first place. And I feel hope as well because surely another vacation will need to be planned . . . sometime soon.