How to Gain Confidence as a Widow with Travel as Therapy

After my husband died and the widow fog started to clear I began to feel anxious about doing just about everything.

I had always made the coffee in the morning but suddenly found the process overwhelming.

Going to the grocery store while usually mundane became a mine field of memories and panic would set in.

One time when I decided to “be a good mom” and fill up the car with gas for my son’s trip back to college, I was surprised to discover both the inspection and registration were overdue, there was a nail in one tire causing a slow leak and the car needed an oil change too. Thankfully the station helped me take care of this but you can see how one begins to lose confidence in handling life after the death of a spouse.

The to do list had been ignored since I had  trouble thinking but slowly I started to do what needed to be done.

I began simply by writing a list of only 3 things to do each day. I figured I could manage 3. Sometimes I would put walk the dog on the list. He liked that one and I did too.

Fear was a constant and I avoided being alone. I made an effort to accept invitations and visited with my neighbors on a daily basis.

But at night I had trouble sleeping.  I would relive that last day over and over and try to change the ending.  If only I had done this… or why didn’t I do that.  The guilt can be devastating.

After having a hard time with the first holiday after my husband died I planned ahead to avoid being sucked into sadness.

That worked pretty well but as I thought about the one year anniversary of his death I knew I needed to do something bold.

So I planned a trip to Thailand.

It’s on the other side of the Earth and I found an adventure tour that would take care of my hotels and transportation within the country. It also provided a variety of fun adventures from beaches to jungle trekking, bathing elephants to cooking classes.

Having suddenly and tragically lost my husband I realized there is no time like the present to embrace life so I packed a bag and started a blog so my friends and family would know I was OK.

When I arrived in Bangkok  I was met by someone from the tour and taken by taxi to the hotel. For the first 2 days I was alone and bravely took public transportation to some of the places that were not part of the tour. I say bravely because the language is so different and not too many people speak English. With my map and a smile I did ask for assistance, especially when I got on the wrong train, and everyone I met was more than willing to try and help. Solo Day in Bangkok

That was 2 years ago and I am still healing by challenging myself to go out and embrace life, have adventures and make memories.

Believe me there are still days where I feel sluggish and would rather lie in bed. And sometimes I do just that. But I like to make plans and have something to look forward to.

I looked into some different “Meet Ups” and those were fun.  One time I went to the Bronx Zoo and had a tour with some people.  Another time I signed up for a breathing class which was interesting.

I didn’t know anyone else doing these things but when you go out and try something new it helps build confidence.

I’m writing today from my hotel room in Tokyo. I’ve been here 8 days and I’ve done lots of sightseeing with my son and the small tour group. I could be out seeing more of Tokyo but it’s 95 degrees and the phone says “it feels like 112” so I think I’ll write a blog.

The other morning in Kyoto we all had a free day. We could use our rail and bus passes and go anywhere. I woke up excited to see some sights and my son decided he needed more sleep.

I could have read a book and sat around waiting for him, or I could go on a solo adventure and meet him for lunch. Which did I do?

The adventure of course!!

I packed my backpack with water and a map and headed over to the train station. I knew what I wanted to see but wasn’t sure how to get there so I stopped at the information center. The ladies there spoke fluent English and gave me a bus map and guided me to the right bus terminal. I got off 2 stops early so I would have a chance to see the neighborhood.

I could tell by the crowd that I was near the Golden Pavilion or Kinkakuji.

As we entered the grounds you could hear the gasps of awe as we set eyes on the shimmering gold leaf landmark. I’ve never had a building take my breath away  but this one did. What is equally fascinating is the reflection of the pavilion in the still pond. The plants and trees surrounding the pond with it’s well maintained islands brings such a feeling of peace and tranquility. I could have stayed here all day.

But alas I had a lunch date and needed to get back to the hotel. I found the nearby bus stop and even got on the express bus back to the station.

My smile stretched widely as I greeted my well rested travel partner. I’m glad I challenged myself to a solo adventure in Japan despite the language barrier.

Nothing like facing challenges to help you gain confidence.

Now if I could only figure out how to face the challenge of taking off those 20 pounds that slipped on since my husband died. I’ll think about that when I get home!

Thanks for reading. I’ll be posting blogs from the different cities I visited in Japan soon. One Day in Hakone Japan

How to gain confidence as a widow with travel therapy




26 comments on “How to Gain Confidence as a Widow with Travel as Therapy”
  1. Leslie says:

    As always, an amazing story!!

    1. runawaywidow says:

      Thanks Leslie

  2. Addie says:

    You go girl, you amaze me every day with your Grace, attitude and courage you truly are an example of live your best life!

    1. runawaywidow says:

      Thanks. I think I got lessons from my mom on that one. 😉

  3. Christie Moeller says:

    This is incredible. Your strength and story can help so many others in the same situation!

    1. runawaywidow says:

      Thank you. I hope that by writing about my journey others will feel some comfort.

  4. Danie says:

    I Lois love your perspective. While I haven’t experienced loss of a spouse I have experienced loss and this kind of honesty is so helpful. I hope you enjoy Japan. I have always wanted to visit

    1. runawaywidow says:

      Thanks. I had a great trip to Japan – it really is beautiful and so different

  5. Reesa Rei says:

    You are an incredibly strong woman for sharing this. I’m so sorry to hear of your loss, but I am so comforted in your thoughts about opening yourself to new adventures. Enjoy our travels!

    1. runawaywidow says:

      Thanks- traveling is the best therapy!

  6. Naomi says:

    Firstly, I’m so sorry for your loss but im utterly inspired by your story. Your strength amazes me.

    1. runawaywidow says:

      Thanks so much for your nice comment!

  7. Dani says:

    What an amazing and vulnerable story. You are inspiring many with your bravery and honesty about your life. Best wishes in your future!!

    1. runawaywidow says:

      Thanks Dani for your supportive words.

    1. runawaywidow says:

      Great – thanks and I will!

  8. Thank you for sharing your journey and tryng to help others who have lost a spouse. I believe that travel is the answer for everything.

    1. runawaywidow says:

      oh yes – me too!

  9. Luci Cook says:

    I believe that you sometimes just need to pack up a bag and leave to heal. I hope that traveling has helped you do that.

  10. Awww, you’re an inspiration. I admire you for sharing your personal story with us. I’m looking forward to read about your trips!

    1. runawaywidow says:

      Thanks. I plan to schedule a few more!

  11. Traveling is liberating! Loved reading through your post. You are such an inspiration.

    1. runawaywidow says:


  12. Ms. P says:

    This post has shook me… but I absolutely understand your thoughts about how important it is to gain confidence to do things after you have lost your significant other. You have done something EPIC and I cant thank you enough for sharing it with the world. You go girl! (PS- I am in India, if you ever visit it would be my honour to help you out with stuff)

    1. runawaywidow says:

      Thank you so much for the encouragement! I hope one day to visit India!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.