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Warning: This is one very personal post. If you’re used to reading my upbeat travel posts or yummy recipes, this might not be it. But, I wanted to share a very visceral experience that I’ve gone through this summer that has left a mark on me.
So many times I’ve thought about the positive ways travel impacts our lives. Every day I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve been given because they have made me understand people and places in ways I never thought possible. I love how travel can open the minds of people and I love how it has changed me and my children. Made us better people. Not every travel experience has been positive but every experience has been worth it.
I went home for my grandmother’s funeral this summer. She passed several months previous and was cremated. The funeral service would be a memorial service and final burial. I have never been good with death. It’s not something I handle well on and while I was very sad, I am not good at mourning.
The time leading up to and during the service I was fine. It wasn’t until later that my feelings came to the surface. My sister asked for some of my grandma’s ashes – I promptly declined the offer. When she came back to the house with them and started talking about them I began to get sick. I know she was joking because she was in a lot of pain and that’s her way of dealing with loss but it immediately flipped something in my mind.
The only thing I could think of were the ovens of a concentration camp. The people. The brutality. Visiting a memorial or a camp can be numbing. While some people cry through them, others are numb. I was numb. It didn’t hit me until much later.
Right at this moment.
My head was filled with the descriptions and images of the crematoriums, the bodies.
I was sick to my stomach and ready to faint.
My eyes were filling with tears . I couldn’t separate these two things.
The pain was so intense and stomach churning that I had to leave the room and vomit. I tried to explain what I was feeling but it was so personal I couldn’t find the words. Of course I knew that the two things are not the same, that my grandma chose that but having seen what I’ve seen it would never be ok.
Every single travel experience changes us. It might not happen right away, it may instead pop up in the most unexpected ways.
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