Artist. Writer. Creative Mentor.

Soaring Spirits has had an enormously positive impact on my own life as a widow as well as the lives of so many friends and others. This organization is doing incredible work to help people not only to cope with widowhood, but to learn how to rebuild themselves beautifully... with love, laughter, tears, and authenticity. Most of all, Soaring Spirits gives us hope. Hope that life can still be amazing even after we have lost the most important person in our world. Hope that a beautiful life - one that our partner is always a part of - can be created. 


Remembering to Live

Everyone has a favorite holiday. Mine is Halloween. I decorate the house inside and out. I spend tireless hours on costumes. I await my first haunted house of the season with eager anticipation. I’ve always liked this holiday, but it wasn’t until after Drew died that it became something I appreciated more deeply.

Just 4 months after he died, my first Halloween without him arrived. I had no energy for costumes or decorating. I was still a complete wreck. But I did do one thing still - I went to a haunted house with one of my oldest friends. It was the first time to do anything of tradition without him.

When my friend and I entered the world of this dark and creepy place… something really incredible happened for me. For the 20 minutes or so we were inside, I was not a widow. I was just... me. Running scared and laughing with my friend through a house of horrors. Yep. Laughing! And feeling deeply alive. As we came bolting out the exit, the euphoric adrenaline was unforgettable. It was one of the first things that gave me proof that I indeed could still FEEL all these wonderful things. Because trust me, I was so broken that I was honestly scared to death that I would never be able to feel true joy ever again. I had a very literal fear of this. And that night as I came out of the haunted house, I realized I could indeed still laugh and still feel joy - even doing things I loved with him. It was a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, I could make it through this. Just maybe, I would be okay.

My new partner Mike and I went to a haunted house last night, and as it always does, it took me back in time and had me reflecting back...

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Daring to be Vulnerable

When connecting with others who are grieving, we obviously have one big thing in common. A death in our lives. An ending we did not want to come. Then there are other similarities we may find, like sudden loss, or long-term illness, or suicide. Then other similarities still may come… the myriad of “me too”s that arise when we begin to share about widow brain, or sleepless nights, or trying to date again, or managing as the only parent.

All of this requires us to have one other thing in common too though - the willingness to be vulnerable. Without that, we will not share, and we will never learn about all the many other things we have in common. You don’t have to be an artist to create. Creating doesn’t have to mean art. Creating is about connection… a deeper connection to yourself and to others. That is now how I see it.  

For the past week, I’ve been working tirelessly on something I would have never imagined myself doing before my fiance died. It is a proposal for a photography grant which, if chosen, would provide me funding and mentorship to take my career to the next level. This opportunity has forced me to sit down and reflect on a very deep level about my journey not only with photography, but also with grief...

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  • commented on The Forgotten 2018-08-05 06:20:25 -0700
    It’s horrible when people start to do this, but sadly so much of our society is completely inept these days to know how to properly support and deal with loss. One of my very best friends did the same sort of thing to me in the months after my fiance died… I almost walked away from the friendship entirely. Five years later, I was there on the other end of the phone, while her dad was dying from a very aggressive cancer, which took him within only months. She didn’t understand how to be there for me, but now she does. Now we have had many conversations about my loss, and what I went through, and how sorry she is that she didn’t really understand what to do. Some people truly just do not get it and they end up saying stupid things.

    My only hope on this journey is that now, as I am healing more, I can show up for others – even the ones who did not know how to show up for me – and at least show them "THIS is what you do. And THIS is what you say. " So that they can learn from it and learn to be there for others down the road. Sadly, it usually takes going through their own horror story for them to get it.

    Its horrible, the way so many run off after a few months. My new partner, also widowed, he had the same experience as you… and I do think sometimes it is harder for men. There is a double standard for men to just suck it up and deal silently. Total crap. Nearly everyone abandoned him after his wife of ten years died. Worst of all, it has made him untrusting of people now, and much less willing to build close friendships… because people he thought would be there, left him alone in his time of need. I don’t blame him. Sometimes people can be so unbelievably unaware of how their actions, and words, affect others. The “IT” thing – yep – so horrible!

    Despite how shitty it is to go through, this was really well written, and it portrays how truly awful those words do feel, so completely.

  • commented on Sympathy Pains 2018-07-15 07:17:03 -0700
    I can TOTALLY understand having that fear… especially since his illness came so suddenly and was so aggressive. How you could NOT think “I could be dead in 8 months too”. One of my best friends lost her dad – whom she was very close to – last year from a very sudden and aggressive cancer. One moment they were hiking the Appalachian Trail together, and just a few months later he was diagnosed… and less than 6 months later he was gone. I know for a fact that this has impacted her own fears about her health too.

    My mom died from breast cancer when I was nine. It was a few years and an awful battle. Even though I don’t have a lot of memory of her illness, I do feel like it is buried within me somewhere… and my hugest fear is of course the same happening to me. Even 25 years later, I am STILL occasionally just randomly afraid of it. I definitely get it.

    It sounds like you’re doing your best to keep the fears from growing too big too often, and being proactive. I definitely like to think our physical ailments are our bodies trying to get our attention and remind us to take better care of ourselves emotionally. I certainly hope it’s nothing serious and resolves quickly.

  • commented on Navigating My New Normal 2018-06-17 06:58:04 -0700 · Flag
    I’m so sorry you’ve joined this club. I’m the Sunday writer, and have been without my partner for 6 years as of last week. I didn’t go to a wedding after he died for over two years, no doubt it will be hard. All the firsts are hard and terrifying. All I can say is to let the emotions and the demons out when you can, how you feel you can. Sometimes that means taking a break from your trip to call a close friend and unload. Or even just slipping away to the bathroom to have a moment to let some of it out on your own. I’ve found giving myself permission to have little breaks like this helps with the anxiety of having to face lots of faces and questions and times of celebration that are tough.

    I’ve told a lot of folks this… I think of grief and the pain it causes as something that needs to be bled out of us. A bit like a toxin. And it must be done gradually, and often… and our tears are the way that we let the pain bleed out. Over time, as we bleed out the pain, we have more and more room for the love that remains for them.

    Wishing you the best on this tough journey. We’re sorry your with us, but glad to have you.

  • commented on A Friend I Never Knew 2018-06-12 06:58:42 -0700
    Yup, you two would be the most successful annoying team ever, I can assure you of that! ;D Thank you, for welcoming both me AND him into your life. <3

  • commented on Truth in a Weedwacker 2018-06-03 06:42:20 -0700
    I love this story. That weedwacker is so symbolic of so very much. It’s amazing how eventually, one day, something that’s been hanging there suddenly just looks different… how eventually, something shifts inside us and we’re ready for some new part of living. Awesome post! I’ll remember this one for sure.

    I just wrote my Sunday post about buying a stove with my new guy, and though it was a different sort of symbolism, it’s amazing how a stove or a weedwacker could become so deeply symbolic!

    Thanks for sharing :) And proud of you!

  • commented on You Have Been my Best Surprise 2018-05-20 05:54:00 -0700
    Thank you April, that really means so much to me! Vulnerability is SO hard as a widow, no matter what our circumstance, but seems always worth trying for!

  • commented on My Husband Died, And I Am Not A Child 2018-04-20 18:30:41 -0700
    I had to comment. I so get it. As you know, living with Drew’s folks for so long I constantly felt like a child. There is still a bit of that feeling now, because Mike takes care of making the money, that somehow people don’t think I can do that. As if I didnt do it for a decade before Drew died. It did get better when I met Mike, except for what you say.. everyone who never noticed any of the other shit suddenly was noticing lol.

    So yep, also a yes to that feeling that everyone either avoided me or coddled me until I met Mike, and once I met him… All the coddlers disappeared, thinking “finally we don’t have to worry anymore!” And all the avoiders crept out to express how happy they were (i.e. how they were finally comfortable again with my life lol). It’s tough. I’ve felt so alone since moving g to Ohio because everyone just thinks a new love solves it all and we can all go back to “normal”. Only I cant go back to normal. Not ever. I get it for sure.

    These days I dont have too many folks treating me like a child.. I really think it is partly you living back home as I felt it more then too. It’s annoying. They mean well, but they are annoying lol. What do you do about it? No idea, other than give me a call so we can laugh it off. Love you!!

  • commented on Joy Seeker 2018-04-14 19:48:10 -0700
    I loved this post… it was so comforting, the idea of floating or drifting in the direction you are meant to go. Being where you’re meant to be. It made me feel a great big exhale. I think lately I’ve been trying to be somewhere else too much… further along in certain parts of my life. Thank you for this! Tomorrow I will try and just float and enjoy it. ;)

  • commented on New Directions Coming 2018-03-06 07:12:59 -0800
    Thank you Cathy and Beth! It does feel like a great fit, I’m hoping it works out well. :)

  • commented on This One isn't for You, if You're Offended by the F Word~ 2018-01-31 06:50:55 -0800
    Yes. Fucking yes to this. I might have to just print this out and keep it in my journal for those really fucking fuck kind of days. Thank you <3

  • commented on The Sky is Falling 2018-01-21 06:14:43 -0800
    Oh this reminded me of so many times when the topic of dying or an apocalypse would come up with my best friend present and I would so nonchalantly react. Her panic being me dying, or all of us dying, and me sitting calm and saying “fine by me!” lol she always hates when I do that. I so get it though, really.

  • commented on Galaxies within Us 2018-01-07 07:00:32 -0800
    Thank you Cet and Sharon for reading and being here to share. I’m wishing you much love and healing in this new year!

  • commented on Itching and Aching 2017-11-26 07:09:52 -0800
    Moving in with my Mike was very hard for me, mostly I had a ton of fear well up. If he died, I could not pay for the house and the cars and everything. It’s been about a year now, and I’m beginning to feel more settled. The fears are still there, I just tend not to give them much attention because it’s not like worrying is going to keep him from dying. I didn’t ever get to live with Drew, so we didn’t have a home filled with memories, but leaving Texas where all of our memories were was so so hard. I had no idea how much new grieving would come with that move… and am still working through it.

    I’m wishing you both the best with this new move! I know it will be very sad and so hard but also worthwhile and exciting and beautiful. Leave yourself ample room for grieving as you make the transition. It’s tough stuff, continuing to live life and have new milestones, but still beautiful.

  • commented on Revisiting the First Thanksgiving 2017-11-20 06:48:23 -0800
    I remember how hard Christmas was on you for years Kelley! I think the only good thing about it is how much more we enjoy and appreciate those holidays once we are finally able to feel joyful again. For me, it feels tenfold.

  • commented on Normal 2017-11-13 07:34:51 -0800
    I remember my first time going to Camp Widow, Tampa, 2014… Exactly what you said. I’ll never forget feeling “normal” for the first time in ages. And being able to talk about death and grief like it was a just an everyday topic, no one getting weird about it! So glad you had that experience.

  • commented on Three Divorces and a Funeral 2017-11-13 07:27:47 -0800
    Well said Gabe. I think we are all better off not trying to compare. I remember someone who’d been through divorce saying they envied me a few months after he died – it was the oddest thing I’d ever heard.

    Looking back, I know what they meant… In a way, I think they meant they envied that my love story was still beautiful, still devoted and pure. That part, I do get. Of course they envy that. Because in that one way, widowed people who were happy and in love will always have the purity of that love, and divorced people have to grapple with the dissolving of that. They have to grapple with a failure of love, a true ending of the love itself. It is the one thing we do not lose when we become widowed, the purity of our love to one another to the end, and that I think is what makes them feel their loss is worse. It’s not worse, of course, nor do I believe is ours, but entirely different kinds of loss.

    Really well said.

  • commented on Reality 2017-11-13 07:07:08 -0800
    I remember that feeling. It took what felt like an agony of time for it to begin to go away… I think a year maybe before it started to be less frequent. Your words are so honest and real, It reminded me of a very short poem I wrote the year he died…

    “Sometimes

    I just want to rip apart every synapse in my brain

    Because I am so tired

    Of the constant knowingness that you are gone."

    It was called “I don’t want to know this anymore”.

    Sending love, fellow writer.

  • commented on A New Dawn 2017-11-13 06:52:20 -0800
    Hi Candace. It’s so hard to hold onto hope in those early times of grief. You will no doubt continue to spread his love and legacy for all your days! Hold that hope close to your heart, and on the days you are too tired to swim, let it be your liferaft, keeping you afloat and letting you rest. :) All my love Candace, thank you for sharing this, it means so much to me.

  • commented on Knowing Them Deeper after Death 2017-10-30 08:11:45 -0700
    Thank you Cathy for your comment! What a meaningful journey you and your dad had in that shared grief experience – I am so glad you had that closeness with him. Much love my friend – today is actually the death anniversary of my mom, missing both of them much today. Indeed, hug the one you’re with <3

  • commented on X-ray Vision 2017-10-30 08:02:45 -0700
    Thank you for sharing this Teresa – you described it so well too, the flatness. It’s been about 5 1/5 years for me now, and I feel like the clarity started to come in a little bit better right around that year 4 for me too. It sure is a much longer process than we ever imagine, isn’t it? Much love to you!

Artist. Writer. Creative Mentor - making meaning from life's challenges through creativity.
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