Losing my wife Shannon to cancer when she was only 42 years old left me feeling lost and lonely, overwhelmed thinking about what the future had in store as a widowed father of 2 young kids, and feeling like her death had stolen a lot of who I was as a person.
Now, here I am, 16 months later and looking back on everything I’m somewhat in disbelief at all that has taken place during that time – all the ups and downs, the emotional roller coaster, wanting to crawl under a rock and make the pain go away, and feeling scared about whether or not I could actually manage everything.
As the days turned into weeks and the weeks into months things started to change, slowly, but in a good way. When Shannon first got sick we talked a lot about needing to do more rather than just talk about things and that became a driving force for me especially when it came to the kids.
We’re making new memories now and those feelings of being scared and unsure of myself are being replaced with confidence, laughter, and gratification of finding different ways to honour Shannon’s memory. Also, having a front row seat to watch just how resilient my kids really are has inspired me with their ability to keep moving forward despite Shannon’s death.
In that first year I took the kids to their first ever concert to see Maroon 5 (and Shannon’s “boyfriend” Adam Levine); I finally had some work done on the house that Shannon had wanted to do; the kids and I started travelling more and the highlight was our trip to New York last summer and showing them all the things Shannon and I had done on the New York trip we took 15 years earlier when I proposed to her on a horse and carriage ride in Central Park.
I’ve seen positive changes in myself too as I’m now finding my groove again at work; I'm helping coach my son's hockey team; I'm active with my daughter's competitive dancing; recently I spoke in front of more than 300 people at a fundraising event for our local Hospice organization; soon I’ll be helping to facilitate a Dad’s group with one of the support organizations I’m connected with; and I’m doing things like contributing to this blog – something I never would have dreamed of doing a year ago.
I would be remiss not to mention the impact that Camp Widow has had in helping me get back on my feet and how it was a definite turning point connecting with my new “tribe” of fellow widowed folk from across North America who “get it”.
The instant bond you feel with others at Camp and the love that fills the room is something I’m grateful for having found and is infectious too - I'm not only planning to return to Camp Widow Toronto this fall but I will also be attending Camp Widow in San Diego in July and this time with my kids so they can experience everything Camp is about and hopefully benefit the same way I have.
Camp Widow has helped me connect with a “hope posse” (as they call it) that finds ways to pick me up when I need it most and thanks in part to them they have me feeling like I’m starting to actually live again and not just “going through the motions” day in and day out.
Thank you Soaring Spirits for connecting us all and building the support network that has become so crucial. Without you this journey would no doubt be more difficult to get through.