Loss of a Parent
After My Dad Died: How Traveling Helped Me Heal

Give InKind is honored to feature writer Sarah Chrisya. Here, Sarah explains the touching travel tribute she paid to her father following his death.

February 14th this year will mark my dad’s 3 years of passing away. It’s ‘sort of’ better each year… I still miss him a lot and very much, but over the years I just get better at getting out of the mourning hole. His passing is like this one folder of gloom and mourning, and I have learned to keep the folder inside a drawer all the way on the back in my heart and I have learned not to visit the drawer often. But just recently, I realized I have never got the time to let my dad’s passing to sink in and I never paid tribute to him properly. So I decided to pay a visit to the back and opened the drawer and pulled out few memories of my dad.

My dad visited Melbourne on 2011 with my mother. When he came back from the trip he showed me lots of photos he took on many tourist landmarks in Melbourne and he told me many stories about it also… including information about RMIT University. I never get to visit Melbourne with him, but I did decided to continue my postgraduate study in RMIT. I studied in Melbourne for 1.5 years and I finally finished my postgraduate study and recently graduated with master’s degree last year on mid December. I spent an extra month to travel, pack and just rest before I have to go back to home country for good. Before I flew back home, I decided to reminisce my dad in a way that I could enjoy.

I looked up some photos of my parents’ trip to Melbourne and chose several photos of my dad. I decided to go around few places in Melbourne and replicate his photos. I asked good friends of mine to help me take photos and travel with me. Here are few shots that we replicated.

It was honestly very emotional for me to do this project. To see his photos again… Remembering his face and his awkward poses… reminded me of when he was still around. I managed not to cry though, which is something that don’t really happen. Because even though I could be the strongest person, but I’m originally such a cry baby when it comes to my dad. I’ve been dealing with this matter and I learned that the reason that I always cry when it comes to my dad’s passing was because I never let things sink in. I just let it pass and hope it’ll go by. I’m probably 3 years late but I want to let his passing sink in within me and just let it be. To truly understand that it is okay for him to go.

I do various things to help me deal with this matter and one of them is learning to talk about it openly with people that are close to me. Talking out loud about it makes me feel better. I cry a lot the first time I read letter to my dad. Second time I talked about it with another person, I only had few drops of tears. It gets less and less burdening every time I share or talk about it. Sharing this in my blog is also one way to heal for me. It is a unique way to remember him, just as unique as his personality.

I’m thankful I have been given the chance to study abroad, and also thankful that it was in the last country/city my dad visited before he passed away. By doing this, I was able to experience what he had experienced… Traveled the places he went, walked the roads he walked, see the things he saw, and so on… Even though we both visited Melbourne in different times, I felt as if I was together with him at that particular moment and place through this project.

* * *

If you’re going to take anything from this story of mine is that, do not wait until it’s too late. I never knew I would lost my father that  soon. I never really appreciate the times I traveled with him previously and I regret it. Go to places with your loved ones and live adventurous life together with them… Go to new places, try new activities, new foods, take photos, write them in journals… I kept thinking how wonderful it would have been, if my dad and I were on the same frame instead of separated…

Another lesson would be… you need to let things sink in. Be it grieving, achievements, breakups, etc… Let things sink in. And find ways that can help you process it. If you need to talk about, then find trusted person and talk about it. If you need to travel, then go! Travel and take time to ponder about things. Let the places you wander to change you and come back changed, renewed and stronger. Don’t run from it or hide it. Because by doing that you’re letting it imprisoned you.

“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards."
-S. Kierkegaard

And  talking about it and letting it go, doesn’t equal to forgetting about it. I’m trying to let go of my dad’s passing, but I will forever remember him. He will always be a HUGE part of me, I am who I am because of him also. So to all of you… go on your pace, let things sink in, let go and hopefully you’ll be able to smile as you reminisce.

This post is dedicated to my dad’s lover: my mom.
Photographs courtesy of Sarah Chrisya. Used with Permission.

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