This past week I started something new that I feel both a little bit nervous about but also really hopeful about. I finally signed on to be a regional Soaring Spirits group leader here in Northeast Ohio. I’ve been sitting on this idea for over a year now. In part, for my own reasons… I have very few friends nearby since moving to Ohio. Each year, going to Camp Widow in Toronto, I remember how wonderful that kind of community feels, and how much I’d like to have some piece of that community here locally. I also know, I’m not alone there. I know there’s plenty of other folks who could use the very same thing.
So I finally signed up to lead the regional group here, with hopes that we can grow a wonderful, kind, supportive, fun group. This is a new part of me… I’ve never really been one to be part of organizations or larger communities. I’ve certainly never been one to lead things. But widowhood has changed that some. It’s helped me to realize we all have the ability to lead each other, guide each other, and help each other - even if we don’t have all the answers. It’s helped me to see that we heal better when we heal together.
Being a part of the widowed community has helped me to become more confident and realize that we are all so capable of helping one another on this journey… simply by being there.
I’ve felt like an outsider most of my life. When I was first widowed, at the age of 30, I felt even more like an outsider. That is, until I found the widowed community. Suddenly I was part of “The club no one wants to be a part of” for life. It may not have been a club I wanted to be in, but at least there was somewhere I belonged. For someone who’s spent a lifetime without that, it was actually an incredible gift.
There is something really comforting in knowing that I will always have this community… through Camp Widow, through writing here, and now, through my regional group. It’s comforting to know there is a place that I am not judged. Somewhere I am embraced and encouraged and supported and valued for who I am. Somewhere I can have deep conversations about all the many complexities of grief and life and love, and not run people off. Even if that somewhere came out of losing my person, I am still so grateful. I like to think that he brought me a whole village of people to make up for leaving.
And so, this next month, I will be hosting my first event for my new widowed group. I will be getting the chance to extend that sense of belonging to others who live in the area. A chance to support them, listen to them, laugh with them and cry with them. A chance to serve as an example that we can still live life boldly and beautifully, even if we are carrying grief with us each step of the way. And a chance for all of us to feel a beautiful sense of belonging together.