I’m sorry for the late post, I’m at Camp Widow in San Diego this weekend and while I usually post by 5pm Saturday when I’m in Australian but I forget that with the time difference here in the US, my deadline is midnight Friday!
It’s been a very different Camp Widow experience for me so far. For the first time, I’m here with four of my Aussie widow friends, compared to my previous two camps where I came from Australia on my own. It’s been a lot of fun to travel as a group and see them experience the Soaring Spirits family for themselves. I think I’ve been so focussed on my friends and excited about their first Camp Widow that I almost forgot that there is something here for me, as a third-time camper, too.
Coming to Camp as a widowed person who is a new relationships has also affected me. I’m still very much learning about love after loss and what it means to be a widow and a girlfriend at the same time. I’m really missing my new guy, who is back in Australia. We’ve been talking on the phone regularly throughout the day and sending messages and while it’s nice to be missing him (knowing I’ll actually see him again in a couple of weeks, which is different to missing a dead husband!!) it’s been a big distraction.
I haven’t been focussing on Dan as much. Not just here at Camp, but in general. And I really don’t know how I feel about this.
On one hand, I’m not going to lie, it’s a relief. The excitement, happiness and comfort that this new relationship is bringing me is a wonderful reprieve from the loneliness and sadness that came after losing Dan. I want to focus on this happiness. I am relishing this new love but still adjusting to how I balance this with the love I have for my late husband.
However Dan is the reason I’m here, at Camp Widow. How can I remember him and celebrate the life I had with him without also feeling the sadness that still comes with his loss. I haven’t often shied away from feeling my grief, I’ve had to learn to sit with it, hold it and express it as an important part of the healing process. Being at Camp Widow is making it hard to ignore this. Which I know is probably a good thing. You can only bury the grief for so long before it inevitable bubbles up the surface again.
I just returned from Michele’s key note presentation here at Camp. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Camp Widow, the highlight of the weekend for me (and many other campers) is the Saturday morning key note speech. It’s always inspiring, thought-provoking and cuts straight to the heart of my grief. Regardless of the topic, Michele’s message resonates with where ever I am in my journey.
Today, as always, her message touched me and for the first time since arriving at Camp this year, my tears flowed. She spoke about memories. How, when first widowed, she was afraid of losing any of them – good or sad. How over time she accepted that while some specific memories would fade, that it was ok, because the important things would never leave us. And how it’s ok to let go of the traumatic memories and feel happiness again.
I can relate so much of where I am now, to her presentation today. Because I’m scared of losing more of Dan in this new relationship. And I’m feeling guilty about wanting to risk that, in order to move forward with this new guy.
So this morning, I’m reminded that my third Camp Widow will be just as important as my first two. I’m here to heal and grow and I’ll never stop needing the support of my widowed family, regardless of how far I come in my new life.