Powerful Medicine for Broken Hearts
[COMMUNITY: Part 5]
“What are you seeking?” they asked.
“I just want to find normal again,” they answered.
To survive the loss of the person with whom we thought, hoped, and planned to grow old with is the challenge of widowed people. Whether we were partnered for many years, or if we had precious little time, somehow the end came too soon.
or too late for those whose partners suffered unending pain — why did they have to suffer so long?
No matter how different our circumstances, Widowed People share a common experience in loss.
We’re told that grief is something we must travel through-–but, no one can say how long it takes. Our desires about our process range from “I want to hurry up and be normal again!” to a vague ever-present loss of our awareness of time in general.
It feels as if its been forever.
It feels like it was just yesterday that they were still here.
I go from feeling as if they might walk in the door at any time to the other extreme.
I suffer a longing that feels as though it will never be filled.
Is hope even possible?
Speaking about our journey through grief can bring comfort when we find someone who understands.
An old Swedish proverb says that joy shared is doubled;
sorrow shared is halved.
This post is a mini-story about my personal path “into” grief. I say into because our culture encourages us to “get over it” or “don’t think about it.”
“Move on!” they say.
I’m still being helped by diving into the grief in order to move through it. Learning from the grief AND honoring the love I shared with my beloved husband for most of my life.
But Soaring Spirits is still making a difference for me, almost three years out. Soaring Spirits invited me into the heart of that Swedish proverb in three different ways: One-to-One connection; Large group Learning; and Service to Others.
When I felt ready, after losing my husband in April of 2021, I reached out to Soaring Spirits’ Pen Pal Program.
“Our Widowed Pen Pal program will match you with another widowed person for one-on-one supportive e-mail correspondence. The Widowed Pen Pal program was designed for those who would rather correspond with one person consistently than join a group forum.”
The Pen Pal program allowed me the private reach-out to another widowed person.
How long has it been for you?
Just six months. You?
Of the names that came to my inbox, some were “little while friends” while others became important people in my life. Some led to an eventual meet-up in person. Some remain as an occasional email conversation and with some we’ve exchanged gifts and then disappeared into memory. Others remain as an occasional phone connection. A few stood the test of time and are a large part of the fabric of my life.
Each one helped–in ways big or small–on my initial path of grief.
I like the freedom to choose that is built into this program. My pen pal and I can decide how, and if, we will grow together. It provides an opportunity to reach out via email and explore what “widowed life” is like for this person and to share your process in your own way; within your own particular comfort zone.
Pen pals taught me that we are all the same AND we are vastly different. It taught me to let go of expectations and to be with my pal (or step away from my pal) as needed. It is teaching me honest, loving communication and the value of choosing kindness at every turn.
I honor you as you are.
I honor myself as I am.
Each pal gets to decide with me to stay on the surface or to go deep; to talk frequently, or occasionally.
Best of all, I am learning that kindness is a lesson that is ever changing and is its own adventure.
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.”
Large Group Learning
The first step into large group learning for me was the in-person program called Camp Widow.
I cannot overstate the value that Camp Widow has had in my life.
- Workshops on all things widowed.
- Help with “finding the words” to protect our hearts when talking with clueless people.
- Normalizing the gravitas of our current condition and how humor can be a lifesaver.
- Practical help with figuring out what is next.
- Being gently reminded that somehow we’ll make it through.
The weekend experience reaches out with so many meaningful “bandaids.for.the heart.”
It is a balm.
A place where answers arrive.
In other words: A PLACE OF HOPE
P.S. on Camp Widow
You may hear about Camp Widow “taking to the road”….perhaps even to a neighborhood near you. In the meantime, here’s what’s happening right now . It’s also the place to keep track of this large group learning treasure.
Service to Widowed People
One of the ways I give back to others what I’ve received from Soaring Spirits is serving as a Regional Group Leader. With my co-leader, Shelley (one of my original Pen Pals who is third from the left in this photo) we provide a space for Widowed People to meet twice monthly for meals with other widowed people through Regional Social Groups
you are not alone . . .
The surprise in this endeavor is how rewarding it has been to do the work of scheduling, communicating and planning, that makes this group a reality. The most rewarding part is meeting brand new widows and widowers and letting them know they are not alone.
Engaging with widowed people also reminds me that I am not alone.