#howisoar - Erika Herrera

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.

#howisoar - Deneen Washington

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.

#howisoar - Patricia Paschang

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!


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.


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


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


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.​


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.


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.