Post-vacation blues

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.

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