As much as I traveled alone when Lev was alive, I was surprised by my anxiety attacks each time I prepared to leave on a trip after I became a widow. I am not a worrier. However, I realized that while I always did most of the planning and packing for our trips, my husband was the one who handled all the details of security when we traveled together. And when I went by myself or with a friend, he was at home to watch after things.
My attacks came the morning of the trip, as I went about checking lights, air-conditioning, locks, alarm system, sprinkler system and the like. When I was leaving the country, I double- and tripled-checked to be sure I had my passport and enough cash. On the short trips—whether I was driving or leaving my car at the airport—I felt uneasy loading my suitcase in the car and driving away from the empty house.
As I formed my own pre-departure routine, the attacks lessened in frequency and intensity, though they are another of those sinkholes, occasionally catching me by surprise for inexplicable reasons…a few months ago when I was only going to Dallas for a few days. I find that I cope better when the housekeeper is there when I leave and when someone drives me to airport. Complete aloneness on the morning of departure seems to be a trigger.
If you are recently widowed, think through your husband’s routine well in advance of your trip:
- Notify your professional advisors and family of the dates you will be gone and provide them with contact information.
- Suspend newspaper delivery or arrange for a neighbor to pick it up each day.
- If you have an outside mailbox, have your mail held if you don’t have anyone to retrieve it regularly.
- If you have an alarm system, notify the alarm company of the dates you will be gone and provide the names of anyone who has access to your home in your absence.
- Arrange for your lawn to be cared for in your absence.
The day before your departure:
- Have your car serviced and the tires checked if you’re driving.
- Check doors, windows and gates to be sure everything is closed and locked.
- Set automatic timers for your lights if you have them; otherwise, leave some lights on, inside and out.
- Dispose of perishable items in your refrigerator.
- Adjust your thermostat as desired.
When you’re ready to leave, turn on the burglar alarm if you have one (and seriously consider having one installed if you don’t), lock the door and have a great trip.
Photo: Ravello, Italy, September 13, 2014. Ravello is the most beautiful spot I’ve ever seen, stretching along a mountain ridge, seemingly suspended over the Mediterranean above the Amalfi coast.
Please share any additional steps that you take before you leave on a trip.