There was a time when I didn’t just GO to each Camp Widow event that happened every year, I NEEDED to go to every single Camp Widow event that happened each year. Like, it was a necessity for my mental health , for my sanity, for my well-being, and for my being able to have a small chance at not wanting to just crawl into a corner forever and be done with it all. I NEEDED my widowed community around me, I needed that time with them, I needed to swim in the pool with them and attend workshops with them and then make them laugh through tears while presenting my comedic workshop. I needed these things to stay alive, and to have something to look forward to. Back then, I had nothing to look forward to. My person was dead forever, and I just wasnt yet in the place of understanding that there could be life again. I didnt really care.
Now, as the years have gone by, it is an incredible feeling and also a well-earned one, to finally be in a place of desperately WANTING to be at Camp Widow, instead of needing to be there in order to help myself survive. These days, I cant afford to attend and present at every camp widow, so I have to pick and choose which ones Im able to do. I honestly wish I could be at every single one, because I love being there, I love my widowed friends, and I miss seeing them as often as I used to all those years ago. I haven’t been to Camp Widow Toronto since 2019, and Im not sure when it will be possible to return. I hope it is possible at some point soon. I miss that city and my friends and the Labyrinth outside the hotel there, and the amazing food, and music, and night life. I miss the reunions that happen when we all see each other again. The smiles, the hugs, the tears, the endless laughter that happens when you are in a safe place with others who “get you” and your dark sense of humor, provided by widowhood and sudden death. I miss the poutine, and the extra-nice, kind people of Canada. I miss feeling excited about who will be doing the Key Note Address this time, or which new workshops I can attend and learn from. I miss having breakfast with the other Regional Group Leaders and talking shop. I miss the dance floor filled with widowed people; as they release their grief through two-steps and electric slides. I miss all of it.
And also, I am thankful to be here, in my home, with my wonderful husband, and sharing our Sunday tradition of “Breakfast and Rock and Roll.” I’m happy and proud to be continuing my work as a certified grief counselor, and getting new clients and helping them through their grief on a daily basis now. I felt honored yesterday to lead our Regional Group meetup at a local coffee shop, while my co-leader Allison is in Toronto attending Camp Widow and giving a presentation about Self-Care through movement and dance. I feel lucky to hang out with my cat Autumn on the couch and listen to her purr.
As time goes on, I continue to believe and really feel the idea of not knowing what is in store for our futures. When we are in our darkest times, it seems impossible to see and feel any light, or any hope. And yet, that does not mean that light and hope are not present, or that they don’t exist. When we are hopeless and alone, it is hard to imagine a day where friendships and connections will be present again. And yet, this does not mean that future friendships do not exist. I think we are always in the place, emotionally, where we need to be. Once our minds and hearts have worked through and processed those things, then we will shift into a different place. Being patient and being in the moment of those times is so hard, because we just want to feel better. I am here to tell you that if you let out your grief, and if you allow yourself to sit with the sadness and other emotions, it will shift into something different, and slowly; your life will feel more like something you want again instead of something you just need to get through and survive.
Until you believe these things for yourself, I am happy to believe them for you.
One day, the things you needed for survival, will become things that you return to – simply because you want to.
That is a good day.