Monday, March 1, 2010

In Awe

I have experienced using the word death, or the word grief, or the word widow and having people physically step away from me. I have been told that since I am young the death of my husband isn't as large a tragedy as it might be if I were older, since I am sure to remarry. I have been asked whether or not I am "over" my husband. People have looked at me from behind walls, sunglasses, the back of their cars, and then purposely walked the other direction. I have been told that finding another man to love would mean that Phil was not my soul mate, because how could you replace a soul mate? I have been asked to explain why I still talk about my dead husband when I have a new one waiting in the wings. I have been asked how I can possibly listen to the stories of other widowed people day in and day out without wanting to jump off the nearest bridge.

Yes, I have definitely experienced being misunderstood, but I have also been introduced to the power of a compassionate community.

This weekend Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation held our first Board of Directors retreat. I am humbled and honored by the love and dedication these ladies show our cause. We talked about where we are going as an organization, and how we will get there. We discussed why this mission is important to us personally, and how to explain to people outside of our group WHY this work matters. Because frankly, finding support for the programs we run has been the most difficult professional challenge I have ever faced. There is an expectation that we will all just, "get over it." Somehow a perception that grief is a short lived time period that can be managed by pulling up the boot straps has pervaded our society. There is no general sense that people who grieve need on-going support.

But everyone who reads this blog knows better, in large part because of the courageous way our bloggers share their personal walk with grief. We all have learned that the only thing that lightens the load of grief is understanding. The one thing that most impacts understanding is community, and the most powerful type of communal support is created by connecting those who have a shared experience. That means we need each other.

So the board of the Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation set an impressive goal...we endeavor to become the leading worldwide resource for providing peer based grief support programs. The very idea makes my eyes well up with tears of gratitude, and honestly a bit of disbelief. We intend to change the world.

Death has taught me that we are on this planet for a finite amount of time. Grief has taught me that I need a community that understands the complexities of losing the man I love. Widows have taught me that community heals.

We can't accomplish this goal without you. You are the reason we exist.

(Oh, I forgot to explain the photo...we are testing recipes for the Widows Rock! and Death Sucks cocktails for Camp Widow. Yes, thanks to Ms. Dippel, we have a very tasty drink for you to test out when you arrive!)


  1. At first, I read that as "beer based group support programs" ha ha!

    I know that the SSLF can reach it's goal. Just look at what you've accomplished and how many lives you've touched already. Thank you for everything you're doing!

    (PS - those drinks look tasty!)

  2. Do you plan to publish some of your groups goals? I would be very interested in knowing how some of us can support you.

    I'm not a big beer drinker, so I won't be of much help with those groups. But I'm willing to give it a try. (lol)

  3. Although I haven't had the pleasure of meeting any of you personally. From what I've read in reading blogs over the past few weeks, I just want to shout "Go For It!"

    You have much to offer. I would also be interested in seeing goals and knowing how others can support the process.

  4. Michele this is awesome! I have no doubt that Soaring Spirits will reach the whole world. I would love for this site to pop up first in Google :) This group has been one of the most invaluable resources for me along this journey. I love all the wonderful women I have been able to put a face to the word "widow". Unfortunatly it's a huge price to pay to come about this site, but I am excited that it will be here for others! Great news Michele and as always, Thank you!

  5. I still can't believe I'm a widow and have to be strong for our 3 children. I want to wake up.

  6. I enjoy reading this blog every day, so much so that I've bookmarked the web site so I can visit daily. Thanks so much for all the great stuff you all write for us every day!

    I hate having to walk this road, but at least I know I'm NOT alone...there's so many others who are in the same position I am.