Lorraine and Philip were due to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and passed away just a few months later. After grieving for a year, staying close to family and friends, Lorraine decided to travel overseas as part of the healing process. Lost & Found got her reflections soon after she returned…

“Thinking back to when we lived in England, our first trip abroad was to Yugoslavia, which was something special for both of us. Neither one of us had stepped foot on foreign soil before. Later, we went to Spain, France and Italy. That was it for Europe. Then we moved to Africa, because Philip’s job took us there. We spent five years there, which was really good for both us. We both really enjoyed it. Then it was onto Australia to live. In later years, after we’d retired, we went to different parts of Australia. We went back to England to see the grandkids. And we went to China, which was amazing – that was what Phillip really wanted to do, so off we went there.

Yugoslavia was probably the most memorable trip, because it was the first. It was actually a communist country when we went there. It was very interesting.

I’d wanted to go to New York for many years, but Philip wasn’t really too excited about it, so it never happened. Then I was talking about going with my daughter, but that didn’t eventuate, because she had another baby. So really, it was only when Philip passed away that I felt I really needed to go back to England to see my family. Then my friend lost her husband two weeks after me and New York was a place we both wanted to go, so we decided to go together.

my friend lost her husband two weeks after me, and New York was a place we both wanted to go, so we decided to go together.

I found the trip really cathartic. I got a new appreciation of England, which I don’t think I had before. Previously, it was all about grandchildren and we caught up with friends, but this time I felt quite free. I certainly felt less stressed travelling on my own. Philip used to take charge when we’d travel, so I didn’t always know what was happening. Obviously, going on my own, I took charge and that felt good.

Going to New York gave me a lot of self-confidence. You have to get around, you have to take the subway, you have to find places. You’re not dependent on anyone else, which was a real confidence booster. I felt very free and it felt good to be somewhere I’d always wanted to go.

I think if you’re doing things it’s good for you. It helps you heal. You tend to want to keep busy, because when you’re on your own you can get quite sad. When we were overseas, while we both spoke about our husbands, it was still quite enjoyable. Travel and being with people is very good.

I’d like to go to Tasmania. Funnily enough, I would have loved to have gone there with Philip, because he would have enjoyed that. But I’d still like to go. It’s not going to stop me from going. I’m going to travel, if I get the opportunity.

When you lose a partner, you do realise that time is pretty short. Especially when you’re older. Now I feel like if anything comes up, any opportunity to go anywhere interesting, I wouldn’t hesitate. To anyone in the same position as me, I would say the same thing – just do it.”

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