Soaring Spirits Founder & Executive Director

When my 39 year old husband died in a cycling accident I didn't know any other widowed people. I spent a full year seeking out other widowed people in order to feel understood, just for an hour or two. Meeting other widowed people changed my life. Knowing that the people I met survived their own losses, and found ways to recreate their lives gave me hope that I could do the same. 

Once I found my community, I wanted to share them with the world. Soaring Spirits programs are designed to create and maintain a community of support for widowed people around the world...we just want folks to know that they are not alone. 


Meet Michelle Dippel

03_23_09.JPGMeet Sassy and Spicy.  Also known as Michele and Michelle, and to some of you as the original "Widow Match." We are pictured here at Michelle's home in Texas celebrating the life of her husband, Daniel, who died in November of 2005 of laryngeal cancer. Our husbands died two months apart, we are the same age, we share a wicked sense of humor, and we are both single moms to wonderful kids. A perfect match, thank you God.

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Widows as Agents of Peace?

03_12_09.JPGHave you ever prayed for "peace in our world"? Or have you wondered when reading the day's headlines why we can't all get along? And on the days when the loss of your spouse is so heavy you can't get out of bed do you think about being an agent of peace?!

I have met so many amazing people on the road of healing. It seems that every day brings another story, another tragic loss, another compadre on the journey towards becoming whole again. And with every person there is the story of the death, and then we enter the next chapter...what do we do know?

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Death Knocks Again

02_23_09.JPGWhen you have lived the grief experience others often assume you know "just what to say" to a friend or family member who has lost a person they love. Many times I have been the go-to person for advice on what to say, how to help, what not to say, and sometimes for requests to make a personal phone call to a fellow griever. Many times I feel overwhelmed by this assumption, because the truth is nothing changes the fact that the person they love isn't coming home. This fact alone is so strong, and devastating that I sometimes feel that words are futile, and the little I can do is but a bandage on a gaping wound.

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Question Number Eighteen

02_12_09.jpgDid you wear your husband's clothes?

For the first few weeks after Phil's death anything that touched his body was sacred. His shoes were sitting just where he last left them, his lunchbox sat on top of the refrigerator, and his toothbrush was standing next to mine in the holder. One day I found one of his eyelashes and pressed it into a plastic rosary holder for safekeeping. Three days before he died, he was working in our attic and left dirty fingerprints on the top of the door in our bedroom. I was annoyed when I saw the black marks on our white door, and made a mental note to ask him to clean off the prints. Those black marks now hold a place of honor on my otherwise white door.

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The Big Red Day

01_26_09.JPGMy husband used to call Valentine’s Day ‘So What Day’…romantic, huh? He thought greeting cards were a waste of trees; that buying flowers because someone told you to defeated the purpose; and that going to dinner on the big day just to eat from a limited menu and have servers anxiously awaiting your departure from the table was ridiculous. I will admit that we fought about this on a few occasions…who wants to be the only girl in the office that didn’t get flowers? Eventually we settled into our own brand of celebrating our love, both on the big day, and on the other 364 days of the year.

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Where is the "Get Out of Jail Free" card??

01_19_09.jpgI am typing away this morning with a winter cold. Runny nose, coughing fits, watery eyes, achy body...the whole package. Overall, I feel pretty miserable. Whenever I am sick, I am reminded of my mom bringing me soup and hot tea as a child. Sometimes my mind wanders to the way I care for my own children when they are sick (I am famous for a concoction called sickness tea), but often my heart aches with the desire to have a special someone that cares about exactly how bad my cough is, nags me to go to the doctor, or allows use of his lap as a pillow for watching movies or taking an afternoon nap. I can really gear myself up for a self-pity session when a winter virus takes hold. 

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Question Number Seventeen

01_09_09.JPGAfter your husband's death, did you sleep in the same bed you shared with him?

Phil died at 6:33PM on Wednesday, August 31, 2005. At the end of that horrific day, I stood in the doorway of our bedroom and faced our empty bed. My mom came to stand beside me as I contemplated what to do...go in? stay out? sleep in our room? sleep on the couch? sleep alone? sleep with one of the kids? In a voice that was laced with despair I told my mom that whenever I was away from home over night, Phil would stack all the pillows from our bed (he was always confused by the need for decorative pillows) on my side to keep my place warm until I got back. Quietly my mom went into the room, and moved all those useless pillows into Phil's empty spot.

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Reflecting on the New Year

01_06_09.jpgNew Year's Day is a reflective holiday for me. How would I rate last year overall? Are there any obvious changes that I can make to improve the coming year? When I look back at the past 365 days can I say that I am proud of the way I lived them? Self-reflection, however, is extremely challenging when grief has walked into your life unbidden and unwanted. Do these questions still apply when you are grieving? Can you reflect on life without a distinct bias when your entire world is upside down? What change, short of a miraculous return of my husband, could be made to improve my life after his death?

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I am the director, and founder, of Soaring Spirits International...and I love the work we do!
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