Today I traveled home from my third trip to Camp Widow, San Diego. It is so hard to put into words how special this weekend is for me.
For me, there is immense comfort in finding other widow(er)s who also lost their husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend/fiancé/person to suicide. Our loss is traumatic in a way that can be hard to grasp if you haven’t lived it. There is often a stigma attached to those of us left holding the broken pieces of our hearts. In the world at large but even with other widows.
We need each other to remind ourselves that it wasn’t our fault, there wasn’t anything we could have done to prevent it, and we are not responsible for another adults’ actions. There is no judgement here over the death by suicide and that’s why we tend to stick together. We don’t say things like, how could they leave the kids/you, I would never, I CANNOT imagine, etc. No one in this club judges one another for their pain and grief or their happiness and joy. We also don’t judge our loved one’s suicides. Tony made a terrible decision that fateful day in April, one he never should have made. But he is more than that giant mistake and it does not encompass all that he was, it does not take away the years and love we had together.
Like every other widow, we too did not get enough time and we now know that time is precious. So, we gather at Camp and share our loss story that can include what happened but also how the world reacts to us. Then when Camp is over, we start a new text thread adding in our new friends. Over the next year we will use that thread to share our hard days and our triumphs. Cheering each other on through the ups and downs of our precious lives.
I make connections with people outside of the suicide loss community. But today I wanted to share a glimpse of what that group looks like from the inside.
I imagine there are other widow groups that have a sense of purpose when they find each other at Camp. We all find comfort in finding people who validated our lived experience. We all crave connection on some level, and I feel immeasurable gratitude to have found this tribe. I hope if you have been to a Camp Widow that you have found your squad of cheerleaders.