I received a lot of information from Camp Widow in San Diego. It was a great opportunity for me to review those in their various stages of grief, and recognize that I had been there already. I'm still there. You see....grief never goes away...it just becomes a numb memory in your brain somewhere. There were widows (twice), there were widowers - 11 of them had the courage to come. Some over 20 years, some with only two months in their stages. Some were older and some were so young...men and women. With the almost 300 attendees, I experienced new memories and knowledge of how other women (and men) have moved through their bereavement. I was also able to share with some of them and how I moved forward. Some were so new to this label called "widowhood", but others were there challenging and saying the words "my husband/wife is dead". One thing I did find amusing and had experienced this myself, was how difficult is truly is to say the word "he's dead" those first 8 or 9 months. The American Widow project was selling cups that had imprinted on them "Death Sucks"....appropriately so. One speaker, Carol Scibelli, author of Poor Widow Me, made us all laugh with her humor on the use of the widow card. Once we get past the acceptance that we are on our own, we realize that a gift has been given to us...one of those gifts is to just look at the now and use it to your best advantage. She is truly a funny lady. Thank you Carol, for pushing me to finish my book!
When Michele Neff Hernandez, lost her husband instantly, she knew that she had to move herself forward. She did that and found the Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation (SSLF). Four years later, Camp Widow West (in it's fourth year) and Camp Widow East (first year) helped a resounding number of people moving through their grief, make new friends, share old and new stories, and learn that this is just a part of the journey.
I was fortunate enough to bring my book to Camp Widow and have it sold in the store there. There were so many resources available for whatever someone was looking forward. Friendships, therapy, support, participation, oh...and dancing! What amazing people who held the the workshops! So...my widowed friends, I highly recommend that you attend these camps next year. There is an EARLY BIRD registration going on - $100 off the registration if you sign up before August 31st. It was well worth the trip and I definitely will be going next year. Note to self: Sign up to save money....and perhaps PAY IT FORWARD.
Why pay it forward? Because someone on the SSLF board paid for 10 registrations for widows to attend. I was the recipient of such a generousity. I was teetering on the brink of going, and couldn't find the extra money, but now I am so glad I did. I even shared my hotel room with another widow attending.
So now what? I've already created a Meetup group for Modern Widows for the San Francisco Bay area....thank you Carolyn Moor for creating one in Orlando, FL. Our name may change because our first meetup will be at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley. I see "old hippie widows, jeepers creepers, and or maybe Wild Wicked Widows as possibilities. We might even come up with something for our particular area, who knows? Six people have signed up and, hopefully, more will do the same. In the meantime, while preparing for this Meetup, I'm going to follow the statements of the picture above. Life is worth living, just look for the positiveness of it and celebrate it!
Many hugs and sending all who read this great vibrations! Lori