When my children were little, our youngest son always seemed to make a friend wherever he went. The library, in the aisles of the grocery store, or even while waiting for a prescription at the pharmacy.
He was wired for seeing children in his world as “little-while friends.”
When I attended Camp Widow, not long after my husband died, little did I know how many “little-while friends” would be there for me—the person at the sign-in table, another by the coffee. Even the hotel staff seemed to be in on the kindness and support. Everyone seemed so cheerful.
By the time I got to the final day, it was “here comes everyone” in the group photo! Widowed people from all over the United States had “caught” the smiles that welcomed them just three days before. They’d attended talks that covered many questions and other talks that introduced things to think about that had not yet entered their minds.
We found strength in each other.
Each one with a story of love and loss.
Soon after Camp Widow, I began attending a Soaring Spirits Regional Group located in a town just under forty miles from my home. It was the closest one at that time and it was worth the drive to connect with new and old friends, sharing a meal and conversation. A simple yet important follow-up to the Camp Widow experience for me, and an new, first-time experience for some who heard about the group from friends or family. I visited with the person in front of me, on either side of me. Meaningful conversation with five widows or widowers felt worth the drive.
Within the time we were together there were moments.
Moments when someone would mention missing going out with their spouse on the weekends and how this gathering helped. Moments about current struggles and the heaviness of grief were received and validated by those who knew. Wonder if future might bring them a special love again—or not. There were no pat answers.
Around year two, getting to the meeting some forty miles away presented a challenge.
Especially the part where I am on the 91 freeway in the dark. Though I knew I would miss my Orange County friends and the amazing Priscilla Schubert, I began to look at options. It seemed time to start a group in my town and in the face of the current drive, it felt possible. When I reached out to Susan Hannfin-MacNab, they were just about to do an “onboarding” for new regional group leaders. I joined just in time to be a part of the training.
Community in all its forms is the gift of Soaring Spirits International. Peer support: the best kind. Lucky us to know that there are friends in the wings just waiting to be friends of ours! Lucky us!
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