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After losing her brother to suicide, she traveled the world in his honor

My mind wandered to one of my brother’s dreams. He wanted to see the world and enjoy new experiences. To pay homage to his life, I grabbed a map and began planning my journey into the unknown, selecting places I knew he wanted to see.

  • 8 months ago
  • October 1, 2023
5 min read
After losing her brother to suicide and dealing with immense grief, Delfina embarked on a journey to travel around the world. After losing her brother to suicide and dealing with immense grief, Delfina embarked on a journey to travel around the world. | Photo courtesy of Delfina Santamaria
INTERVIEW SUBJECT
Delfina Santamaría was born on September 14, 1993 in Lobería, Buenos Aires. She has a degree in administration and currently works as a leader of quality assurance in an American company. For the last three years, she has been traveling the world as a digital nomad, accompanied by her notebooks and hats. In her debut book, she takes readers on a journey around the world, teaching them how to bloom.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
According to the World Health Organization, 703,000 people die by suicide every year. Suicide and suicide attempts cause serious emotional, physical, and economic impacts. People who attempt suicide and survive may experience serious injuries that can have long-term effects on their health. They may also experience depression and other mental health concerns.
Suicide and suicide attempts affect the health and well-being of friends, loved ones, co-workers, and the community. When people die by suicide, their surviving family and friends may experience prolonged grief, shock, anger, guilt, symptoms of depression or anxiety, and even thoughts of suicide themselves. Click here for a list of suicide help lines around the world today. For support with various other mental health issues, Help Guide offers a search tool by country.

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — For weeks after my brother committed suicide I went into shock, unable to process what happened. My heart broke as I struggled to get out of bed in the morning. The grief soon transformed into guilt and an endless stream of questions ran through my mind – questions I would never get the answers to. When the time came to sort through his belongings, it felt as though we were erasing every trace of him.

My mind wandered to one of my brother’s dreams. He wanted to see the world and enjoy new experiences. To pay homage to his life, I grabbed a map and began planning my journey into the unknown, selecting places I knew he wanted to see. Since my adventure began, I have traveled to 20 countries with just a backpack. His presence lingers everywhere I go and reminds me, life is short: let go of expectations and focus on the moment in front of you.

Read more Travel & Adventure stories from Orato World Media.

Every city filled me with a renewed sense of wonder and I found myself

On my first long trip, I toured Europe for a month. Every day felt exciting and unplanned. I fell in love with traveling and soon selected my next destination: Australia. The day I left Argentina, my friend wrapped me in a warm embrace and held me tight. “I hope you find what you’re looking for,” she said. I held her words close to my heart, thinking about what I truly wanted from life. The tears streamed down my cheeks as I felt my emotions fully.

Looking around, I said goodbye to my surroundings and a motivation surged inside. I let go of my old job in favor of one that granted me the freedom to move from place to place. Nothing would stop me. As time passed, those inner wounds healed, and I began to see life through a softer lens.

As I visited the shops and interacted with the people in places like Sydney, Malaga, and Puerto Escondido, a new freedom set in. The beautiful colors and the rich cultures gave me moments to reflect and mature. Some days felt harder and more lonesome than others, but every time I visited a new place, I thought about how it made me feel and what it meant to me.

In the process, I learned so much about myself. I discovered my hidden fears, sorted out my pain and my prejudices, and discovered my inner strengths. 

Dealing with grief and depression helped reshape the person I am today 

Ten years after my brother’s death, one lesson stands out above all others. I must allow myself to have bad days. Not every day can be amazing. Learning to accept that went a long way to relieve the pressure I felt. As people, we can be so hard on ourselves. Sometimes, the simple solution is to give yourself a break.

Eventually, I wrote a book about my experiences called A journey from mud to laughter. Writing felt therapeutic. It allowed me to navigate my grief and sadness, and it became my travel companion. Indulging in moments of pain allowed me the space necessary to mess up and heal.

Delfina during one of her travels. | Photo courtesy of Delfina Santamaría

Solo travel gave me the opportunity to find a new version of myself I never knew existed. Every day, as I traversed foreign lands, I felt myself navigating a learning curve. I soon understood the goal of life is the journey itself. The challenges we meet along the way forge and shape us.

Today, I embrace my new self – someone who is eager to experience the world, but can still be afraid of change and uncertainty. Despite these challenges, I move forward. I let go of what is out of my control. The things I saw, the people I met, and the experiences I lived helped me immensely. I feel my brother’s energy in everything I do, and I’m so grateful for that.

Translation Disclaimer

Translations provided by Orato World Media are intended to result in the end translated document being understandable in the end language. Although every effort is made to ensure our translations are accurate we cannot guarantee the translation will be without errors.

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