The Courage to Start Over

Two characters in the book I am reading are talking about why they moved to that particular small town. One was born there, moved away, then returned for as yet undisclosed reasons. The other said she just wanted to start over. The first woman said, “I think it’s admirable. A lot of people don’t have the courage to do something like that.”

Is it true? Does it take courage to move to a new place to start over? Or is it that sometimes we’ve lost so much there’s nothing to lose by doing so?

I know several widows who moved out of their homes, and then took off, looking for a place to settle. A couple of them bought RVs, traveled across country, and eventually found a place they liked well enough to stay. Others just . . . wandered. It might have taken courage, but I have a hunch it was simply easier than staying and living with the memories and the ghosts of things past. Some people who are left behind do stay in their once-shared home and that, perhaps, takes more courage than heading out to look for a new place.

In my case, after Jeff died, I moved to a different state to take care of my father, and when he too died, I wandered. In between road trips, I’d rent rooms in people’s houses. Then three years ago, I bought a house sight unseen (though I had seen photos), in an area I’d only driven through once. At the time, I knew no one in town, though I promptly rectified that little matter. Did any of this take courage? Not particularly. Does it take courage for a stone that was catapulted into the air to land somewhere? No. It’s just the way things are. It’s the same thing when you are catapulted out of your life — you eventually have to land somewhere. It’s just the way things are.

Come to think of it, that’s not the only time I went looking for a new place to live, though the other times were with Jeff. We were fed up with the growth of Denver and the attendant problems like crime and pollution. We were also without work. So we just took off with no destination in mind. I don’t think that took courage; it was an adventure, and to be honest, once we left everything behind, it was the freest I ever felt in my entire life. The problem with such an irrevocable act is that eventually you have to find a place to live, and that search destroys the feeling of freedom.

It’s a good thing this place is working out for me because I don’t have another move left in me.

But I am getting off the theme of “courage.” Although I have done many things people say take courage — such as dealing with grief, my solo road trips, buying my first house so late in life — I didn’t particularly feel courageous. I did endure, however, and I did persevere despite having lost so much, and I tend to think that counts more than mere courage.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

4 Responses to “The Courage to Start Over”

  1. Isobelle Says:

    Two years after my husband died I moved to a small seaside town not all that far from where I live before. Now I have bought a motor home and take road trips. I also don’t feel that either of these things require courage although everyone says ‘you are so brave’ – as you say it’s just how things are..

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      When the unthinkable happens, such as the death of a husband, then suddenly everything seems thinkable, even traveling in a motor home by yourself. Good for you!

  2. Judy Galyon Says:

    You are very open minded & that is what it takes to be courageous. I will continue to live here because I like the scenery, peace & quiet & it’s paid for.

    P.S. I have just seen traces of green & purple on my wisteria tree. I haven’t seen much in the past few years.

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