The Family I Never Knew I Needed

widows_in_Melbourne.jpgI spent last weekend in Melbourne with about a dozen very dear friends.  These women have only been in my life for a couple of years now, however it feels like I’ve known them my whole life. They see my soul, in its most bare and vulnerable state, a way that people who have known my most of my life will never understand.  

These are my widow sisters.  Women who I found when I was thrown into the deepest pain I could imagine, who were battling the storm beside me, trying not to drown.  We clung to each other, lifting each other up for air at a time when we were all so close to sinking into the darkness. 

We have spent countless sleepless nights sharing thoughts and emotions that our other family and friends could never fully understand. We have shared tears of sadness on the difficult days and celebrated each other’s successes when we’ve taken positive steps forward. The conversation is always easy and open.  We have no need to hide or wear a mask with each other.

These women all came from different backgrounds. Under different circumstances, some friendships may not have formed so easily.  However despite our personalities, our geographic locations, our interests and our beliefs, we were connected intrinsically and instantly through the bond of our common experience. I honestly don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t of found this tribe to walk with after Dan died.

As I’m now coming up to the three-year mark, I found this catch up with my widow friends to be very different to previous events.  So much has happened for me in the past few months, I feel positive about my future and excited about where my life is at. The heaviness that I carried in my chest day in and day out through the first two years is no longer a familiar sensation. It’s been replaced with a genuine happiness that I couldn’t imagine was even possible.

So when we got together last weekend, I found that the tone of the conversation was different to before.  There was much less talk about sadness or pain (still some, but not much) and significantly more laughter and sharing of happy news and progress. There was an aura of celebration in the air.  A sense of victory even, that we’d all continued to survive and thrive.

We also welcomed new widows into our fold. Women and men who had lost their partner more recently and found us through our online support group here in Australia.  Brave people who travelled long distances to meet total strangers because they craved that connection and understanding they could only find with people who had lived the same living nightmare.

For my, the connection with my widow friends was still just as strong, even though I’ve moved forward in my grief journey. I know it will always be there and I will always need them to turn to for advice, support and reassurance and my life continues to change and grow. 

Thinking about how much these women have changed since I first met them makes me so excited to see what it still to come for them.  I look forward to our friendships continuing to blossom, as I know they'll always be such an integral part of my life. 


SIDE NOTE: If you’ve never sought out the company of a fellow widow, I can’t recommend it enough.  Soaring Spirits has a number of programs including Camp Widow, regional catch up groups, Widowed Village and a widowed pen pal program.  They would be more than willing to work with you to connect you to someone so you too can experience the unique support that comes with this type of interaction. 

Showing 6 reactions

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
  • Steven Jenkins
    commented 2017-09-24 22:58:49 -0700
    I loved it when you mentioned that there is no need of a mask. That is the most important thing in life. I have read from, that most friends or relations try to conceal something that would obviously hurt in the future. Becoming as transparent as possible is the only way to live a happy life.
  • Rebecca Collins
    commented 2016-06-05 19:22:19 -0700
    Penny – I hope you do get the chance to go to a Camp Widow, it was a life-changing experience for me. Thank you for your comment, it’s so nice to hear that our writing has helped you. I know Widows Voice is what got me through when my husband died, I would read it every day.

    Kelley Lynn – See you very soon!
  • Rebecca Collins
    commented 2016-06-05 19:21:02 -0700
    Thanks for your comment Laurie. If you click on the link in my article for ‘regional catch up groups’ there is a function where you can enter your address and see if there is a group near you. Otherwise, you can reach Soaring Spirits via email at
  • Laurie Altig
    commented 2016-06-05 19:14:01 -0700
    I am going on year two. I would love to find a group like this. Is there anything in Portland Oregon? I get so sad and have the heaviness in my chest most of the time. I would love the help finding a group
  • Kelley Lynn
    commented 2016-05-28 12:32:53 -0700
    You look gorgeous in this picture, and more importantly, HAPPY! You are glowing. I always love it when I see that glow come back into someones eyes in pictures, including my own pictures, after seeing my eyes so deadened and sad looking for so long. I cant wait to hug you and see you in just a few weeks!!!!
  • Penny Sharman
    commented 2016-05-28 09:47:32 -0700
    Thanks for this Rebecca. This post and Kelley Lynn’s post yesterday is confirmation that I need to go to Camp Widow and I will be registering for the camp in Toronto this fall. I have followed all of your blogs on this site since my husband died 21 months ago and I can’t begin to tell you how helpful they have all been.