When I was a young widow, there was no such thing as a support group to help me through. There was no such thing as online resources. There were no retreats for widowed people to share their experience. I sometimes thought I recognized the sadness in another woman’s face, but I didn’t dare ask if we had a common thread of grief between us. Despite all the well-intentioned people who loved me, I felt alone and lost. I had to figure out this grief thing by myself and find some way to put the pieces back together, heal, and refashion my life.
Since that time, I have been so privileged to help other people have what I did not. The support group for widowed people that I helped found over 28 years ago is still going strong. My university classes have educated people who then go out to serve, minister to, and heal countless others. My heart is filled with the stories of people who attended an event where I taught, read an article, or intersected my life. It is gratifying beyond words to make a difference in so many lives.
I recently embarked on another aspect of my healing and helping mission: I just joined the Advisory Board of Soaring Spirits International. This wonderful organization was founded by Michele Neff Hernandez, a young widow who, like me, was determined to help others in the same situation. Soaring Spirits offers both online and in-person peer support as well as chat rooms, resources, and support groups. Camp Widow, their signature program, is a weekend experience for widowed people held three times a year. There are also online resources for you to use to help other widowed people. With such a broad base of support, their reach is international and they are growing and expanding all the time.
If you are widowed or you know someone who is, I encourage you to check out Soaring Spirits. Chat on the Forum, get a pen-pal, read the blog posts of other widowed people, find a regional meeting, be directed to helpful books, register for Camp Widow, gain hope, and know that you are not alone.
Originally published in the Huffington Post, 10/13/16.