When I submitted my request to present at Camp Widow in Tampa and/or San Diego to Soaring Spirits International, I had a fairly good grasp of what I wanted to achieve with my presentation. When my proposal was accepted, however, I began to worry if what I had in mind would be beneficial to those who chose to attend.
I had never been to a Camp Widow event, and now I understand why it was suggested to me that it was best to attend one before presenting. I think, however, because I had blogged for Widow’s Voice, and my Presenter’s Proposal was unique I was provided that opportunity.
I’ve attended and presented at other conferences, however, a gathering of people who’ve experienced such profound loss is quite different from any gathering I’ve experienced. Surrounded by those who truly get how you feel, yet each processing loss and grief with their own set of coping skills. I know that in this stage of my widowhood, it is helpful for me to try to make sense of the events of the past two years. When life situations become overwhelming, I find it helpful to break my projects into steps and also navigate my days in that manner.
I thought about that as I spent a great deal of time and thought in developing my workshop packet that I offered to those attending my workshop titled “Processing Grief though the Use of the Written Word.”
As a workshop presenter, my intention was to provide writing tips using a template for developing an actual book proposal. I assumed correctly that there might be conference attendees who wished to share their stories through writing and perhaps consider turning their experience in to an actual book.
I wanted to provide a step-by-step process fo capture in words the events and emotions surrounding their personal situations regarding their widowhood or other life events if they preferred.
Just prior to my workshop, it was announced that there would be massage and acupuncture sessions. Attendees, including myself, formed long lines to sign up for either and were told we’d receive a text notification when it was our turn.
Standing at the podium I was surprised when over fifty people came through the door of the large conference room. I even ran out of handouts. I began my presentation on a strong note, but then noticed that several people suddenly rushed out of the room. The people who remained, however, intently listened scribbling notes which made me relax and concentrate on delivering what they seemed to need.
After my presentation, a woman came up to me and said that she’d left because she thought the “Written Word” in my presentation’s title meant it would be a Bible-based session! And then a man said that he liked my session, but it was more technical than he’d expected. Several thanked me for giving them the tools and information that could help them get a book published and I presumed in turn help them process their grief.
Later that day a young man came up to thank me as well and then said, “You know, all those people who left were getting their massage and acupuncture notifications”! I couldn’t really blame them, and it was good to know that I wasn’t boring them.
The other day I received written feedback from my workshop attendees. For the most part the reviews were very positive, but the one that stood out was the comment made by someone who noted that my workshop was not so much about processing grief but more about getting published.
I know I’d come off as business-like. Fearing that it might be difficult for some to dredge up and write about their personal grief, I had tried to make it more about the actual business of writing. But, this actually captures the spirit of Camp Widow with the collective understanding that there is no right way to process grief. For me, the “Write Way” for me is all about breaking things down step-by-step and trying to Live On.
And who can blame anyone for not wanting a massage or acupuncture? As I walked out of that conference room, I received a text that it was my turn for acupuncture. The timing was perfect. I was ready for it and afterward, I spent some time visiting with the therapy dogs and then went and soaked up the San Diego sunshine thinking about how I would adjust my presentation in the event I was invited to present again.
Step by step. Have a good weekend!