Whitney Young

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.


Cynthia Horacek

When my husband died (rectal cancer) I was so numb at first. As the numbness wore off and I was lost, I didn't know what to do with myself and I didn't want to burden my daughters with my grief (stupid...but that's what I felt). My therapist told me about a website that was for "young widows" and although I was 58 when he died, I went to the website. I don't know how I came to Soaring Spirits, but I'm so glad I found them. The only thing that kept me from ending my own life (and therefore my pain) was that I had two daughters and they lost their dad; they couldn't lose their mom, too, and Soaring Spirits gave me the outlet for my deep pain through Widowed Village. I found so much support and love and understanding. No matter what I said, no one judged or criticized me, because they all got it. Of all the support I tried to find, Soaring Spirits may have been the only one that filled my need. Thank you, Michele. You are amazing.

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Julie Corrigan

After my husband of 20 years died in May 2011, I struggled with devastating depression, isolation and lack of confidence. Camp widow and Widowed Village were very helpful in giving me a sense of community and hope. I started seeking out new friends, groups, hobbies....saying YES to almost everything. I joined a writing circle that was empowering and cathartic. I was asked to read my poetry and short stories at a Poetry and Prose night - twice! I gained lots of enlightenment and confidence talking with other widows since my first camp Widow in 2013. And that gave me the boost I needed to stand up and read my truth in front off a crowd. I still write, but haven't started a blog. Maybe that's my next goal. #howisoar

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Christine Tikotin

Soaring Spirits gave me hope for my future, support and great friendships. Attending Camp Widow(twice)was life changing. Being with so many people who "get you" is so amazing! It taught me it's okay to find joy again and that I will survive and even thrive. At times I did not know how I would do it but watching widows that came before me, showed me that I can do it and I too will be happy again. I now hold the title #remarriedwidow proudly, honoring my past, present and future. Thank you Soaring Spirits for giving me hope and showing me that I am not alone. #howisoar

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Carrie Zwicker

I soar every day. Every single day, since Ron died. I didn’t know that though, until I connected with Soaring Spirits. Soaring Spirits helped me make sense of this incomprehensible experience. My widowed family ​has ​helped me take stock of what I have achieved, every little and giant step, given me a place to cry and made me laugh until my face hurt. My widowed family has lifted me through all of the firsts. One of the hardest things I had to do was go back to work full-time and support my family alone.​ I didn't know if my work had value.​ I didn’t know if I could do it. I was terrified of the interviews. The way I got through them was to imagine my widowed sisters and brothers whom I met through Soaring Spirits walking down that office hall with me, surrounding me and cheering me on. They had faith in me, when I had none. They helped me soar until I could fly​ on my own. Long live love.​

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Laura O'Leary

In 2014 when I came to my first Camp in Toronto and saw the tribute tile wall I was so broken and thought I would never be able to contribute to this ever. So many more camps later my dear widow friend took me to the wall and asked where was mine. I did not have one. So last Tampa Camp 2017 she challenged me to do one for the next Camp in San Diego last year. I did not think I could but told her I would and I did. It was the most moving experience I have had since my loss in 2013. So after 8 Camps I could not be more grateful for the new life I have today and everyone here is my widow family who I love dearly. I continue to attend camp not just for me but to maybe do the same for the next broken soul I meet at Camp.

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Melissa Grahek Pierce

I was 44 when my husband, Dave, died in our bed in January 2011. We had adopted our sons 6 years prior from the Oregon foster care system and overnight I became a widow and single mom to two very scared and sad little boys. I felt like the only woman in the world that this had ever happened to and began trying to connect with anyone who understood what I was going through. I couldn’t find any books or grief groups that resonated with me so I began searching on the internet. I found what I was looking for when Camp Widow came up in my search one sleepless evening. I attended the San Diego event in August 2011 and finally connected with the most amazing people who “got it”. I didn’t feel so alone anymore, I finally had hope that I could move forward and create a meaningful life for me and our sons because I talked to and witnessed others who were doing it. I never imagined I would write a memoir, Filled With Gold, a book that I so desperately wanted to read when I was moving through grief. I never imagined I would move out of the corporate world and be of service to this world as a widow coach. Soaring Spirits didn’t just impact my life, it changed my life.

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#howisoar - Judy Kaan

I was lost when I went to my first Camp Widow® in San Diego in the summer of 2012.  Camp gave me the spirit to live again.  When Justin died six years ago, I could not take photos which we both loved to do.  After my first Camp Widow, I became known for always having a camera in my hand and taking photos of all happy and joyful events and nature. Most recently, I have been to 10 Camps.  Through Camp Widow, lifetime friendships were created through our community.

Once Regional Groups were formed, I contacted the local Regional Leader in my area and I became Crystal’s co-leader.  I am now giving back to the community as a Regional Leader of Palm Beach County, Florida and now have Karen Barash as my own co-leader in my local group. 

I recently lost my Dad to a long term disease, and am working to consolidate both of our homes.  Thanks to Soaring Spirits and Michele Neff Hernandez, I am able to guide my mom with love and resilience by giving her hope and support.

Soaring Spirits has taught me to never give up hope and that I am never alone.  This is how I Soar.

#Love Is My Super Power

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#howisoar - Susan Hannifin MacNab

For the last 5 years, Soaring Spirits has provided a soft place for me to continuously fall and rise up again. I fell down when my husband died suddenly in a car accident; I rose up when a friend dragged me to Camp Widow. Now I can say I have attended, volunteered and presented at 8 Camps. I fell down when I realized I had no local community that understood my new life; I rose up when I realized I could create my own Soaring Spirits peer support system. Now I can say that 200+ members of our Regional Group have found their new home. I fell down when I realized my career wasn’t conducive to raising our son as a solo parent; I rose up when the Soaring Spirits community encouraged me to become an work-from-home author. Now I can say I have published a book to help the widowed community heal: A to Z Healing Toolbox: A Practical Guide for Navigating Grief and Trauma with Intention. Thank you so much, Soaring Spirits International, for providing me that soft place to fall- then rise up- and continue to rebuild a new life.

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#howisoar - Gary Walker

My first camp widow in San Diego in 2014 I was scared to death! I was at 11 months post-loss, and I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was I was in pain and I needed to relieve some of it. The biggest thing was I needed to feel like I belonged in the world again because I didn’t feel like I did. You see if it wasn’t for Soaring Spirits and the people they bring together at these camps, the support that I received from my tribe would have never happened.


The things that I remember four years later about my first camp are the people. I only remember a little bit about some of the classes that I went to but what I do remember is the love the kindness and support the people showed me while I was there. Soaring Spirits has brought together people who are lost, who feel like they no longer belong, people who don’t even understand what is happening to them.

Soaring Spirits quite literally saved my life and their community showed me the kind of love and support I did not know existed. Thank you Soaring Spirits from the bottom of my heart for saving my life, for being the people that you are, you organization that you are, and for the love and devotion and support that you provide to us.

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