Before this weekend, I hated the word widow. Now I know widows not only rock but are resilient!!
I'm heading home today. Suitcase is about 6kg heavier - heart is much lighter having learned a lot over the weekend and released some sadness. Thanks for welcoming this lost Brit into the fold!
What a great experience Camp Widow Toronto was this weekend. Amazing people .... all of you. It was comforting to be with people who are traveling my journey and get it. I felt real for the weekend.
My first Camp Widow was an amazing experience. Unquestionably the most caring and inspiring group of people I will ever meet!
So would I go again? YES. (How do you shout YES?) Will I go again? YES!
I never thought I'd say this less than 48 hours before the first anniversary of Andy's death, but I AM HAPPY! Tonight is the first time I can say that since Feb. 9, 2014.
These beautiful, strong widows/widowers help me so much. I found a place that I feel truly like I can be normal, people that understand what I am going through. I also feel encourage to live again, that it is ok that I am different from who I use to be. LONG LIVE LOVE!
It was such a meaningful experience and I loved being a part of it. I had many thoughtful, interesting, deep conversations with others and the air was so loaded with love and understanding and camaraderie.
What a wonderful surprise. Attending Camp Widow in San Diego, meeting others who had lost husbands and wives was a life changing experience. To me, the most profound event was the balloon release. The emotion it brought out was greatly needed, the tears, the beauty, sending a message to my husband Rick; it all came together. Thank you again for creating a “camp” for so many of us.
Thanks for taking the time, and making the effort you have made for everyone who has become widowed. We have needed this for so long, and I can't even begin to express how much Soaring Spirits programs are helping me. Thank you for hearing my voice.
Attending CW was the best thing I've done for myself since my husband passed away 3.5 years ago. I met the most amazing men and women from all different ages and backgrounds and attended sessions that changed my life! Every person I met contributed in some small way in my healing journey and that's pretty fantastic!
Camp Widow has played a major part in my ability to handle the loss of my wife, and has been so helpful to me as a single dad. The connections and widowed friendships that I have made are priceless.
Camp Widow has become a part of my life. I can’t thank you enough for that fact.
Camp Widow was awesome, never traveled by myself and not to know a soul when I got there. But I soon realized, I knew a lot of people. Just in a way I never imagined. Please do this again next year, also in July.
Thank you and SSLF for a useful, fun and tearful weekend. I was deeply moved by the experience and felt grace from many who have moved farther along the widow path than me. Your spirit infused the weekend with energy and light.
Words can't begin to describe what a wonderful time I had in San Diego this past weekend! I learned and healed more than I have in the last 1 1/2 years, and I can't tell you how much I appreciate the opportunity to go and be a part of this experience. I'm looking SO forward to next year.
The bottom line is we all fit into each other’s shoes. That was the magic.
Widowed people know how to party. After all, we are the same silly, wild, funny people who fell in love, got married, and started families. When we lost our spouses, with them went much of the fun we used to have. We have been sidelined by grief, but we are still very much alive inside. It was powerful to be with 150 people who have at one time cried like I cried, curled on the floor in desperation, and believed that we would never stand again. Yet we all still stood. What connected us was not death, but it was having had to consciously decide to live. Widow is a huge word, laden with awkward pauses and apologies. This weekend the tragedy of individual death-stories almost cancelled each other out. We were all equals in grief, and everyone, "got it." I felt... normal. I love these people now, because over these years we shared the most intimate and profound of life experiences. Because through it we found strength we didn't know we had. Because we have honored our partners in death as we did in life. And because we found a way to forget our troubles for a few hours, and just live. They must be so proud of us. Who would have guessed that it would take a widows conference to enable me to stop feeling like a widow?
Some of the campers were filled with smiles and laughter, knowing they were home with like-minded friends. That is where I find myself. It has been a day of joy. Joy in true understanding. I, with many others, have this opportunity to be among those that get us, to share our stories, to use our sick sense of humor, and to feel the collective sense of support.
I was doubtful that this Camp Widow would really do much to help me in my grieving. But I was desperate to feel like I was living again. So I went. And it was amazing. I had the chance to connect with others going through the same situation I was in. And I met lifelong friends. The workshops were all great and informative. This was one of the best gifts I have ever given myself. I would recommend it to anyone going through the loss of a spouse. I am looking forward to Camp Widow 2011.
It was so powerful to stand in a room with all those people and know that they know what I know. A break not to have to explain myself ... and to connect with new people who I know will remain life-long friends, as well as the chance to hug friends whom I had already connected with. The biggest impression I have taken away from the Conference with me is this: I am in awe of how people have the capacity to reach out to others despite and because of, the pain they are in. It restores my faith in humanity and love itself, not to mention life.
What was so great – so much so that I can’t adequately describe it – was not having to explain anything, or justify, or conceal, or apologize as I’ve had to do in my everyday life. No one expected to me to be anything or anywhere in my journey that I wasn’t. I wish I could bottle that up – or better yet, bring those several hundred people with me everywhere I go like an army. All the times in regular life I’ve had to bite my tongue, face rejection and apologize for my feelings have left me jaded and weary, but i didn’t in those few days...sweet relief.
Camp Widow was an amazing experience for me!!! Thank you for all the hard work that went into it. For the first time in the 3 years since my Mike died, I felt as if I could find a life that was not just waiting to die to be with him. Meeting all the people who really understood was something I find hard to describe--my non widow friends look at me as if I am crazy for spending the whole weekend with people whose spouses had died and having fun!
Being there was a great encouragement for me, and affirmed what we’ve been doing in Singapore through Wicare Support Group. Listening to the invited speakers and interacting with the widowed people during the sessions – between sessions – in the bus to Widows Dash – at the marina park waiting for the race to begin ---- has brought to me how ‘common we all are in our grief experiences and in our journey of healing’, regardless of our nationality, race and faith.
This weekend one of the workshops taught me the most useful lesson I have learned since my wife died less than a year ago…that no matter what the reason she was taken from me, it wouldn’t be good enough to make me feel better about her not being by my side. I am learning to move forward without being haunted by the question why. Thank you.
If you ever took the time to imagine a widowed event (ok, something you may not do all that often), you might picture a bunch of gray-haired people clutching tissues and smelling salts, weeping incessantly. You probably would not picture a whole bunch of crazy campers at a pops-in-the-park concert getting shushed and then ignoring the shushes by jumping up in seats, screaming, dancing and waving their arms wildly to the music. We were inspired on Saturday morning to "imagine the unimaginable," teaching us that unimaginable is not the same as impossible. A good lesson to remember, as it is something we have all lived -- the unimaginable. Unimaginable was the strength, bravery, heroism and everything in between that pervaded the spirit of the day. Such aliveness you never did see.
Sad, morose, depressing, and weepy widows? Not us! (Okay, some of it may have been depressing to other people…but not to us.) So for anyone who was on the fence about going and opted not to, I can whole-heartedly recommend it the next time it happens. (And Michele does plan to have another, it sounds like.) It was worth every penny I spent (and then some) to get here. This experience has been absolutely unimaginable. There’s no price tag that can be put on it.
Every single attendee has expressed to me immense gratitude for this weekend. Everyone now feels a part of a greater supportive community. I myself have made some close connection that I know will stand the test of time. The other thing I saw happening is that women in the throes of grief were able to see, feel, and touch hope.
I wanted to send my "thank you"....for a very special, touching weekend. I am so glad I canceled my other conference and was able to come and share this past weekend with all of you. Carla Fine's session about suicide and talks with us were so calming and peaceful. She spent extra time talking with 5 of us, and it touched us all, everyone involved said. You did an amazing job with you team in putting on a very meaningful event. I hope to come again next year.
Between session 2 and 3 – during lunch, I was wandering the bookstore and reading the backs of the books – I was overwhelmed with emotion – have I read all that I should, have I provided my two kids with what they need, crap, I hate it that my husband is gone – how can I really be here attending this weekend – I am so sad – I just want to cry……and then the feeling that I could go ahead and cry and any one of the people that were near me could and did approach and hug and encourage me – I was uplifted and ready to go again by the time the third session started. I needed to be with these women and men – just like me --- thanks again for bringing us together.
I was energized by the weekend. I laughed more in the 44 hours I was in San Diego that I have since Austin died almost 17 months ago. I also cried in each of the four sessions I attended. The tears were for my sons, for me, for friends, for people I didn't know who were sharing some of their grief journey. I came home exhausted and quiet, giving myself time to reflect on what the weekend meant in my life. And I've come to the conclusion that all the laughter, tears and friendship were very cleansing for my soul. They reintroduced me to myself, the Debbie I was before Austin died. She's been gone for almost 17 months. But I saw and heard glimpses of her this weekend. And that has reminded me that I'm still here somewhere. I'm forever changed by Austin's death and the person he loved so well has found it hard to exist without him. But this weekend made me realize two things. First, the best way I can honour Austin and our love is to allow myself to really live again, in whatever way I can figure out how to do that. And second, I need to take better care of myself and put myself first. Because if I'm not taking care of me, I won't be able to do a good job of taking care of our sons. I know Austin would absolutely want that for me, for us. And so I'm starting today to put myself at the top of list.
I so appreciated the Soaring Spirits Camp Widow weekend. In my two years of widowhood, this has been THE most helpful thing to enter my life. Being with other people who have experienced a similar loss was uplifting and empowering.
It simply the best thing I could have done for myself. Maybe saved my own life at least helped turn a corner.
The moment that touched me most was sitting in that room during the keynote address and not feeling so alone. I definitely felt a sense of community. Not a group I want to belong to, but nobody else did either.
This was the most incredible experience. I thank you for putting a face to the term widow that I can relate to. I was excited to meet other 30 year olds and that is what I was hoping to find, and I did. Thank you for making me realize that I have gained so many gifts along this un-chosen path. After leaving Sunday, the next morning I was able to get up and not be both physically and emotionally tired as soon as I got up. I have not felt that way in 14 months. It took me awhile to able to put words to the way that I was feeling. I felt I could actually breathe. The next day I could use the word 'happy" and actually mean it. Michele, your conference was THE best thing I could have ever done for myself during this time. I could continue to go to group meetings and reading all the books out there, but until I was able to talk about Joe with someone who has been there and laugh about the un-chosen path that we're on, I don't know when I would have been able to breathe again. The main thing I took from this is that I don't have to be sad all the time to remember Joe and that no matter what I do, how I move forward, and if I laugh more, it will NEVER diminish the true soul mate love that Joe and I had. So I thank you for knowing now that it's not impossible!!
Wow, what a powerful experience. I have to say, attending camp widow was the best thing I have done for myself since my husband was diagnosed with brain cancer in Nov. 2008. I met so many wonderful and kind women. I'm not CRAZY and I made friends I will have for a life time.
Fantastic weekend! Every minute taken up; except for sleep! LOL! Thanks to your awesome board! What fun and inspiration and what amazing widows and widowers! Thanks for all your hard work and everyone who worked behind and in front of the scenes! Much appreciated!
I wish I could have bottled all those people and that feeling up and brought it home with me. It’s difficult to explain to others just how valuable it is – without it sounding like I think the supportive people I have at home aren’t doing enough. But, both groups are incredibly valuable to me, and I need both in my life – desperately.
I can honestly say that I miss my Camp Widow friends each and every day. Being one of many instead of the only one is a feeling that words cannot describe. The weekend played a monumental role in my grief process. Although we all began the weekend in very different places; I think we all left a bit further along in our individual steps of grieving.