Soaring Spirits – Hope Matters Newsletter June 2011

Days and Counting…
Camp Widow 2011

Is Camp Widow™ for you? Do you “qualify” as a widow? Can support people come too?Camp Widow™ welcomes anyone who has lost a life partner to participate in this program; all ages, men and women, married and not married widows, LGBT widowed, those with any/no faith background, remarried widows and their new partners. No matter how long you’ve been widowed, or how you joined our ranks, you will find a community like no other when you step up to the registration desk at Camp Widow™. We work hard to offer you a variety of resources that apply to any stage of the evolving journey of widowhood.  Your support system is welcome too, as are professionals working in the grief recovery field who would like to take part in this incredible weekend.

 

JUNE SPECIAL: Register for Camp in the month of June and be entered to win a free night’s stay at our host hotel, the fantastic San Diego Marriott Hotel and Marina. Don’t wait, sign up HERE today!


 

When a friend is in crisis, and you don’t know how to help, there are ways to provide comfort and assistance that they will deeply appreciate. Exactly What They Need is a unique website created by our Sunday blogger, Kim Hamer, that provides practical tips for helping a friend in crisis. Utilizing her own experience, as well as those of many other people who have come into her life since the death of her husband Art in April of 2009, Kim helps you help your friend, your neighbor, your family member. Take a look HERE, and thanks Kim for speaking for those who often struggle to speak for themselves.

 

Share the Road: Save Lives

Soaring Spirits honors the lives of cyclists who have died in cycling related accidents with our Share the Road ride. This year’s event will be held on October 15, 2011 and will feature a 25 mile city tour, a 50 mile half century, and a 100 mile full century ride through the beautiful fall landscape of Ventura County, California. We are actively seeking sponsors for this event, as well as help in spreading the word to cyclists all over the greater Los Angeles area about this unique opportunity to support the Share the Road message. Each mile will honor a rider who lost their lives, if you know someone who should be remembered, we’d love to hear from you. 

Our goal is to help ensure that cyclists arrive home safely to their families after being out enjoying a healthy, green, and challenging pastime.

All proceeds from the Share the Road ride will benefit the Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation. If you, or anyone you know, would be willing to help…please contact us at contact@sharetheroadsv.com.

Blog of the Month: Alone Together by Dan Cano

“We are alone, or we are not alone. We are newly widowed or we have been at it a long time. We are very young, or we are considered older. We come from this walk of life, or we come from another. We look similar to each other, or we don’t. We might have previously chosen to be friends, or we might not have. Yet here we are. We are reflections of each other. We share that knowing look in our eyes. We have the ability to touch each other’s hearts, and souls, in a deep and profound way.” Read more…

When Can I Register for my Camp Widow Workshops?

Due to an unexpected (and fabulous!) addition to our workshop schedule, we have delayed sending out registration selection sheets until….this weekend! By Friday June 3 each registered camper will receive instructions for selecting from the great list of choices for this year’s Camp Widow weekend. Take a look at the options HERE, just click on the title of any workshop for a summary and information about the presenter. We will be offering an early morning yoga class, new camper orientation, a chance the meet the founders of several amazing organizations dedicated to serving the widowed community, our Widow Dash 5K, and much, much more.

Thanks for your patience, and get those selection sheets back soon to ensure you are assigned to your first choice of workshops! What? Not signed up yet? Not to worry, there is room for everyone! From June 3 forward, all campers will receive their workshop selection instructions with their camp confirmation e-mail.

We can’t wait to welcome you to San Diego!!

Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation is a 501(c)3 Corporation. Your donations make providing a support network for grieving people around the world possible. With your help we provide peer based grief support for anyone who has lost a loved one, with a special emphasis on widowed people. We aim to create a network of support so large, and so visible, that no one need grieve alone. Thank you for supporting our efforts, because HOPE MATTERS.

Camp Widow – Post Mortem

Re-posted from the blog of Abigail Carter, a Healing Center client and Board Member

Only a widow would find that title funny…

Abby and bloggers unite

Boats bobbing in the perfect water against a perfect sky was the unexpected backdrop to what looked like an ordinary hotel conference reception. The mashed potato bar, reminiscent of a kid’s birthday party ice cream sundae station, defied the depth of the conversations that were occurring in small clusters all around the room.

“Is this your first time?”

“It was sudden.”

“He was sick for a long time.”

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“I see you are a newbie, I’m sorry that you have had to join our club, but we’re glad you’re here.”

Conversations amongst strangers are normally about the weather or sports or funny kid antics. These conversations were about trying not to cry, angry kids and bad hospital experiences. Friendships were made in a matter of minutes, and not just the kind of friendships that last for a night or for the duration of the conference, but for a lifetime.

A little parched the next morning (how many glasses of wine did I drink?), I faced a group of people slowing taking seats in the conference room of my sold out (!) workshop, exchanging nervous smiles, and I made animated conversation with three women in the front row who quickly put me at ease when they asked me to sign my book, the copy they had already bought and started reading the previous night. As I spoke and read from my book, my words induced smiles, and tears and laughter. I suddenly remembered being in that place of not being able to stop the tears that came, but happy when they did, feeling cleansed. I hoped that my words helped people feel cleansed, if even just a little. I hope I offered them that lifeline that it would someday be better, that the hard stuff wouldn’t always be quite so hard. One man asked if it was OK to feel good sometimes, that he felt guilty when he felt happy. I knew just how he felt and told him that living life was exactly what Arron would have wanted for me, what his wife would have wanted for him.

I stepped in and out of conferences all day, trying to hear everyone, see friends, support speakers. The messages were all positive, inspiring, each speaker providing to their audiences  the magic ability to laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time. I spent lunch with a Canadian woman who I had been emailing with for over a year since she emailed me after reading my book. Another face to a name, another friend. Another reassurance that widowhood does not equate with CRAZY, except in all the best possible ways.

I hung around the bookstore, signing my book, which sold out and I laughed when someone told me she almost knocked someone out of the way trying to get the last one. If I thought for one minute that my book was no longer relevant, I was reminded in the most life-affirming way that I was dead wrong (sorry, more widow humour).

That evening was proof of this, as some of those good, crazy people were awarded with plaques that made them cry and giant checks that will get them through another month. We were all glad that Matt was able to knock another item  off his bucket list (i.e. to present someone with a giant check – I would love to see the other items on Matt’s list). There was a dance floor full of people dancing to “I Will Survive,” and line dancing to “Brick House” – songs that suddenly took on new meanings for us all. The dim room sparkled with flashes as people lined up in grinning groups for photos, proof that we had all really been there, that this magic had really happened, that it was possible to smile and still grieve.

Get Life InsuranceGet Life Insurance

A group of us changed and wandered into the teeming downtown streets of San Diego on a temperate August night, finding a bar called “Rock Bottom,” the irony lost on no one. A drunken bachelor handed one of the widows a hat to sign, and she wrote “Get Life Insurance” and he left looking confused as we laughed at yet another black widow joke. We danced as an 80s cover band gyrated onstage and some of us flirted with the guy with the DEVO hat, laughed when they played Journey and songs like “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record),” reminding some of us of another era, one of University dances in sweaty dining halls.

The conference ended on Sunday morning with many refills of coffee and tea, boats bobbing in the morning light, back in the same room where we had begun as strangers, now hugging and exchanging cards and promises to get in touch, visit soon, call anytime, day or night. Everyone lingered, not wanting to say goodbye, not wanting the magic to end.

I flew back sitting next to one of my new widower friends, a man who had lost his wife a year ago. We talked through his ideas for regaining a semblance of order back into his life, a household that had once been the domain of his wife. I threw him my lifeline, assurances that he was doing a great job, that he might even be able to relax a little. Reminders to let go sometimes and feel the wind in his hair.

That is, after all, what Camp Widow is all about.

––Abby

For a round up blog write-ups of Camp Widow, see Crash Course Widow and Fresh Widow

…And it even made it onto USAToday.com too: