When I lost my husband, I lost myself. I had always seen myself as a rock in times of crisis, a trusted adviser, a shoulder to cry on. Suddenly, I could barely look after myself - let alone anyone else. I lost both my love and my place in the world. I gave the appearance of being “fine” and “strong” but my mind retreated deeper and deeper into that the dark hole in my heart.
Soaring Spirits and the power of community helped me find myself and gave me purpose by encouraging me to start one of the first Regional Social Groups. Bringing together widowed people let me rise above my own pain and use my experience and compassion to give hope and support to others. I’ve hosted meetings for five years now and my heart still soars when I hear the caring chatter of shared experiences and beautiful sound of widowed people laughing.
I found Soaring Spirits, much like many of us...a late-night Google search. I was able to go to my first Camp Widow in San Diego in 2013. There, not only was I surrounded by people like me...I learned, through the classes I attended that the world was, and still is, my oyster. I made a LOT of changes to me and my life because of that. I learned it was OK to do the things I wanted to do. I learned that there is nothing I cannot do! I learned that being afraid is OK but being paralyzed by that fear is not. I took on the role of a Regional Group Leader for my local area. Through that I was able to connect with other local widowed people who are still wonderful friends.
Since Dana died...I have downsized, moved to another state, done Spartan races, become a competitive (world record holding) power lifter, traveled internationally (alone), made new friends, and had an untold number of adventures. I do Crossfit almost every day, I camp, I paddle board and I enjoy everything! I was always very transparent with my journey and at 6+ years, I still am. I hope that, through my life, I can show people that you will not just survive, but thrive!. I want to let them know that even though we have lost our person...we can still live a beautiful life. Do I miss Dana? With every fiber of my being. That being said...I live my life, as I do, because of him. This is #howisoar.
Cindy and I were married for 28 years. Her passing was very unexpected. Our son had just graduated from high school, and our daughter was in Uganda taking a summer backpack journalism class. I was blessed to have some very supportive friends and family, but at times I felt so very alone. I discovered Widowed Village, where it was so easy for me to share my feelings and to share what I was experiencing. I attended Camp Widow a year after Cindy passed, what an amazing experience to be with so many people who truly understood.
Through Soaring Spirits, I have made so many new friendships, some with people that I have never met, and some with people that I have had the pleasure of meeting. I feel as if I am a part of a whole new community, a community of love and of support. We share our experiences, we share our journeys, we offer support and we give people hope. Life is good these days, so very much to be grateful for. My children and I are thriving individually, and we are thriving as a family. My sense of gratitude is on overdrive these days. I’m volunteering and trying to “pay it forward” whenever possible. Here’s a photo of when I got to meet Alison (Happily Homeless is MoonStruck, and fellow community member) and her daughter Rachael-Grace.
When my husband died, I was afraid to fall apart. When the reality of his death set in, I still refused to allow myself to fully grieve his passing. I loved him with every fiber of my being. I was afraid of what my grief would look like and worried I wouldn’t be able to get out of the quicksand of grief if I allowed myself to go to this unknown place. I grieved, but it was the “light” version of what I truly felt in my soul. My grief was a rainstorm when inside it felt like a Category 5 hurricane. But I wouldn’t, couldn’t allow myself to truly grieve for who he was to me...what he meant to my life.
Instead, I threw myself into motherhood. I was strong for her and strong for me. Even as I started blogging, I held back. My pain was just too much to put into words. It wasn’t until I met my widow tribe that I learned that it was okay if I had fallen apart back then. It was okay if I had been a mess. It was okay to have been broken.
My experience at Soaring Spirits’ Camp Widow confirmed this. Seeing so many widows sharing their truths and stories of hitting rock bottom was reassuring. There was beauty in knowing that although they had been broken to their core, they were able to rebuild. The cracks and scars that remained were simply a testament to having loved. It was a reminder that our spouses existed.
I continue to be in amazement of the “campers” I met; who bore their soul and were made stronger by the experience. That’s the reason for my book, “The One Thing: 100 Widows Share Lessons on Love, Life, and Loss”. The widows who are featured serve as proof for the next wave of widows that falling apart doesn’t mean being irrevocably broken. Showing others that there is life after loss is #HowISoar.
I came to know Soaring Spirits thru late night searches for how to deal with feelings of grief and loss of my husband, Derek. I had just lost my soul mate and needed to grieve in a new way. I picked up my life and moved 2000 miles away from my family in NC and moved to AZ. I thankfully found Soaring Spirits and came to Camp Widow in July 2016 where I met friends I call family. My journey has been a winding road but Soaring Spirits has helped me become an active member of my life again. Thank you for helping me to see how to honor me, Derek and my future!
When I was at my rock bottom, I found hope again through attending one of SSI's programs called Camp Widow. It literally saved my life because for the 1st time in 2 years, I was able to take suicide off the list of options for how I would deal with the intense pain from grief. One of the biggest accomplishments I have undertaken is, quite literally, HUGE! You see, I weighed 310lbs when I found SSI. I was always heavy starting from age 9. Once I attended my first Camp Widow and decided I wanted to live again, but for me to be agreeable to living also meant I wanted to live in a body more comfortable for participating in life activities. I no longer wanted to be just a spectator watching others have fun while I was benched living in a fat fortress. So that same summer in 2013, I underwent weight loss surgery. I have lost more than half my body weight, losing a total of 167lbs so far. I never set a goal weight. I told my body it would stop losing weight whenever it felt it was at a healthy range. Although I have numerous health issues I still deal with as a result of my loss/grief, I am now able to feel "free" as I have left the shell of my former self behind along with all that excess weight. I feel like I am literally soaring with how light I feel. This. Is. How. I. Soar!
I was 37 with a 16 month old baby girl when my husband, Roy, died in a motorcycle accident in April of 2015. I was lost. To say the least. Even with the most incredible family and friend support anyone could ask for, I felt alone. Like I was the only widow in the world and I had absolutely no clue what I was doing. I was simply terrified of not being able to provide my daughter with a "normal life".
I came across Widowed Village and there someone was talking about Camp Widow that was coming up in just a few days. I looked at the schedule of classes for Camp and couldn't believe it. There were so many classes that addressed my deepest fears and concerns. I contacted Soaring Spirits and they got me in on such short notice with no problems at all. I went to Camp a few days later and my life was totally changed. Not only did I receive useful tools and information to help along my grief journey, but I also met the PEOPLE that changed my life forever. I met my Dubs (my group of girls that are now like sisters). Soaring Spirits was able to connect me with others that I could relate to, that I could share every thought and feeling with and they'd understand completely. I couldn't believe I had met other people that were just like me.
My pivotal moment was after my second day of camp, and I was driving home and thought to myself for the first time...I'm going to be OK. And with my Dubs, I've been soaring ever since.
I soar because there is no other way to fly. When my widow journey began, I didn't have a navigation system to guide me through. When you're going through your ups and downs (mostly downs) you never think that there is a clear path to find and follow. Soaring Spirits was my path. It was hidden when I discovered it, but it became my treasure. I never thought I could belong to an organization that could help to navigate the path of so many restless souls. Not the ones that have passed on, but the ones that were forced to stay behind. The vision for my life has never been so clear and I have Soaring Spirits to thank for that. In 2014 I began traveling to camp widow, and I haven't stop traveling since. Now I'm living my best life, all because I dared to seek comfort in the unknown.
Soaring Spirits has truly made me feel I am not alone. I found my way to my first camp in San Diego a year ago, at 6 months out. I am so comforted by this wonderful community. The picture is a recent one, and I’m smiling again now, a little more often. Between Camp Widow, the website, new friends, and the soon-to-be-launched Regional Group (September 9, woohoo!), I have so many meaningful events to look forward to. It’s still hard to miss my husband so much, but these connections soften the edges. Thanks to all for being here. Love you!
I first heard about Soaring Spirits about a month after my husband passed away on September 20, 2015. I said to myself, “there’s a camp for that!?” I was so excited. I’ve been a camp girl for as long as I can remember.
When I finally got to Camp Widow the following year in Toronto, I felt a huge flood of relief pour over me. I was with people “who got it”… and they had hope. I could see there was hope for me too.
After the weekend, I wanted to continue to feel the support and love from other widowed people, so another “camper” and I started up a new regional chapter in Barrie to gather others like us for regular meet-ups.
My widowed friends have become family. They’ve become rocks in my life to share the ups and downs with. This is #howisoar.