Alone Again – How to Decide When to Visit Places You Shared Together

Don’t be surprised if you suddenly burst into tears when you visit a place with shared memories of someone close to you who passed away. It could be your favorite restaurant, park, museum, tourist attraction or yes – even an ice cream shop or grocery store.  And you may not realize that going to these locations, especially soon after the person has died, might trigger strange behavior. Be prepared and go easy on yourself.

Baskin Robbins ice cream was a staple in my family and somehow, even when I moved from one city to another, I always lived close to that chain. Before Paul (who was my husband) had died, we visited our local shop about once a week to get an ice cream fix. He always ordered the same treat – vanilla with chocolate sauce – for many years.

About one month after he died, I walked in and the girl at the counter had recognized me, smiled, and innocently said something like, “I know what you want. It’s a peanut butter and chocolate cone and an order of vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce.”

I looked her and blurted out something you’d never say in your right mind, “Just one cone, please. My husband won’t be eating ice cream anymore because he died.”

Then I thought, “What kind of person says that to a friendly girl in an ice cream store?” I apologized and ran out of the shop without the cone, never to return again until I felt comfortable enough many months later. The takeaway: When you lose a loved one your life gets turned upside down. Go easy on yourself because it might take time before you can return to old places without getting frazzled. Move at a pace that works for you.

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Visiting Familiar Places After Your Wife, Husband, or Partner Dies