Monday, March 21, 2011

A Kind of Retirement

The sun will shine again.
I love the idea that there is a time, and a season, for all things, but change has always been hard for me. I like sameness, actually I used to thrive in the familiar. But the transformation that has happened in my life since Phil's death has taught me to accept my uneasiness regarding change as par for my particular course knowing that some of the most amazing blessings in my life are a direct result of changes I would not have made, should anyone have given me a choice.

In the spirit of embracing change as a positive step towards growth, I will be retiring from my regular writing spot here on Widow's Voice. Knowing that I will still be involved behind the scenes, and that I will be leaving you in the very talented hands of a dedicated group of writers, makes stepping down easier, but I will miss being a part of your daily life. Before I go I'd like to give you a bit of WV history, and a peek at where Soaring Spirits is headed in the coming years. I've included some links to previous posts to offer you a road map of my own Widow's Voice journey, it has been an honor to enter your homes and travel a bit of the widowed road with you.

The Widow's Voice blog was created on November 6, 2008 in answer to a request from the community that was slowing building around a website I created for a book I haven't yet written. My concept for the book developed very early in my own grief journey. Having no access to widows my age, I went in search of them armed with 50 questions about the practical side of loss: how long to wear your wedding ring, what to do with your loved one's shoes, what side of the bed to sleep on, did you dream about them, did you wear black, what kind of support did you get from your get the idea. My plan was to compile their answers, add my own story of finding and meeting them, and then put my book baby out into the world. Sounded fairly easy at the time, though I've since learned that the road to publishing isn't as straight and narrow as I imagined. After one year of interviewing (here are some photos from that time) I accidentally created a small community. Then I began to get requests for my answers to the fifty questions I asked during my cross-country travels, and so the idea for this blog was born. I'd answer a question a week, and have 50 weeks worth of content! I didn't plan what I would do next...who plans when you are grieving? ;)

My small personal blog grew into a movement I would never have imagined. The transformative change was the addition of other writers. Confession time...I did this because my advertising agency required daily updates and there was no way I could keep up. How to solve this problem? Why not make this space a collaborative effort? The idea to have seven writers on the seven days of the week turned on like a light bulb, and so I began to hunt for writers willing to share their stories of widowed life with this blog audience. Our early authors included Mie Elmhirst, and Nicole Hart who have since retired, but the rest of the team keeps working week to week to inspire, comfort, and sometimes just commiserate with all of you. I am humbled and grateful for the dedication shown by our team of writers (click their name to read their introductory post on WV); Janine, Taryn, Michelle D.,Kim (who took over for me when I used to write on two days), Jackie (who took over for Mie), and Matt (who took over for Nicole), and was the first man to join the ladies club.

Until Matt joined us, Widow's Voice only presented the female view of the widowed journey. But the longer we published this blog, the more clear the need to provide a larger variety of perspectives became. To that end, a fellow blogger introduced me to Dan's blog and an opportunity to reach even further by including a gay widower was created.  Dan and I have been sharing Mondays for a few months, and I am grateful to leave my writing "day" with this generous, and movingly honest, man. This talented team of writers will continue to be here for you day after day with me in the background cheering them, and you, on from my editorial post.

My blog family has been witness to many of my personal milestones...the challenges of watching my children grieve their stepfather, facing the reality of  family life without my partner, the painful realizations around my growth through widowhood, the fourth, and fifth anniversaries of Phil's death, the idea of "comparing" my late husband with my then boyfriend, the incredible joy of camp widow number one, and number two, the journey from dating to being engaged, and the previously unimaginable wonder of marrying again. Thank you for the gift of walking beside me through these moments, you've changed my life by embracing my words, by adding your own, by sharing your insights with other readers, by encouraging me through the ups and downs shared in these links...and by coming back to Widow's Voice day after day to honor the love you have known as you figure out how to embrace what lies ahead. We began this effort with about 100 views a month, and today we average 32,000. The numbers grow daily, and I continue to be astounded by the power of shared experience.

What lies ahead for me personally? First of all I will still be the Editor of WV...and I am certain to write the occasional guest post. Next, Soaring Spirits has set some very large goals that include touching two million people annually using electronic means by the end of 2016, hosting a Camp Widow event on both coasts in that same time frame, identifying and securing funding sources that will enable us to meet these and many other goals, and maintaining a laser focus on our mission...creating communities for grieving people that allow them the space to grieve while providing them with tools for recreating their lives. All these dreams began here on November 6, 2008. I leave this regular writing gig to focus my attention on these goals. I want to make this happen for us, and for those who will have no choice about joining us in the future. We speak hope, and so many widowed people need to hear our voices.

Wish me luck, or better yet....join me in the effort!


  1. Hi Michelle, thank you so much for sharing, and best wishes on your journey. We have been reading here for a long time but haven't posted a reply until now. Wishing you the best, -Sachi & Gopala

  2. I am seventeen months out and discovered this blog about four months ago. I check in most days. I want to thank you for creating this space for all of us who mourn. It has been extremely helpful to me to connect with others who are experiencing the same emotional, spiritual, physical and societal issues in navigating these new and scary waters. Many of us do not have people around us who have gone through this experience, so this connection has been invaluable. It is a safe place to come and listen, learn and share. How can we participate in helping you in your quest to expand? To have achieved so much while grieving is an amazing accomplishment. So, again, thank you for being there during this difficult time in my life.

  3. Thank you so much! And best wishes always!

  4. Hooray for you, Michele, and in your new endeavors, I wish for you what you have always given to your WV readers: nothing but the best.

  5. As the song says, "There's a time for..." and you're wise to know when the time is for you to end one and zero in on another...
    Dan is wonderful and sensitive and a terrific writer. Good to know your Mondays are in his hands.
    Will see you at Camp Widow in San Diego in August and please let me know what I can do to make the East Coast Conference happen.

  6. Dearest Michele, I remember about two weeks after my husband died suddenly on 3/08/2010, I started asking people "how do I do this". Sure, I know widows but I certainly have no clue how to be one. My sister-in-law, who lives on the West coast, I live on the East coast, asked around and found this website for me. Every day since, I have been a faithful reader and finally found the desire and strength to even post responses. Your posts and those of the entire group, have helped me tremendously tackle this ever so painful journey. Unfortunately, we all "get it". But fortunately, we all have each other.

    Thank you SO VERY MUCH FOR SHARING all that comes with this tremendous grief. You are a blessing!

  7. Thank you so very much and best wishes!!!

  8. Good luck! Change is always hard, but as you said and we all are learning the hard way, it is inevitable and can be a catalyst for good things.

    I think all of your and WV's goals are wonderful. A space, whether it be virtual or physical, for widow/ers to be understood and feel comfort is a true gift.

  9. Thank you for your words and your vision! I know that you have been a guiding light in a very dark place. It is so good to hear of how life can go on and does after one of the most devastating thing could happen! I am just starting my journey into the dating world. So hard to do as a young widow of 47, but this blog inspired me to try! I live on the east coast and will be looking foward to seeing Camp widow start here.

  10. Best wishes Michelle! Thank you for so much for everything. What started from a very dark place, has become a guiding light to so many of us. For me it is daily place for feeling "normal" in a my new world where nothing is normal any more. To share with those that "get it" has been immeasurably helpful when there is no one else and at 18 months out when our family & friends don't know what to say or do anymore, and his name doesn't come up anymore - this has been a place to "still" share my grief and feel support from others by them just "getting It", and still being able to talk about the most important person in my life - my husband - Thank you. Wishing you the best in the new ventures for WV and hope that I can help some how with any East Coast happenings. Keep us posted - looking forward to it.

  11. Thank you for all you've done and all you continue to do. This blog and Camp Widow have made a valuable, positive impact in my life which have made this journey easier and a little less lonely. Thank you seems so small. I am so grateful for you. I wish you much joy and success in all you do behind the scenes!

  12. As a new widow I thank you for starting this site and blog. I see a therapist and I think I talk in every session about something that touched me in one or more of the blogs. Knowing I am not alone in my many grief experiences has helped so much. Thanks for starting this...BTW when do you think there will be an East Coast Widow's Weekend event. I am thinking about attending this year no matter where but being that far away from my kids even for a weekend is scary to me right now.
    Thanks again for starting this and I know I will support WV and Soaring Spirits in whatever way I can.
    -Kathy from RI

  13. There are no words to thank you for all you have done for me and for all of us Michele. Just know that I love you for it xxx

  14. Thank you to all of you for your kind words! It really has been an honor to be a part of your lives, and I look forward to the ways we can partner to make this amazing community available on an even larger scale.

    To everyone who asked how they can help, first Thank you! There are several areas where we need as much help as we can get: spreading the word about SSLF and our programs to anyone you know because everyone knows someone who could use this kind of support; volunteer for SSLF we have just added a new position National Volunteer Coordinator to our board (more on that soon) and we are gathering people from all over the world to join over volunteer ranks; our programs are maintained by donations and every single one counts. If you are able please consider a regular donation to SSLF quaterly, or at whatever interval works for you. And lastly if you have a connection with any corporation or particular donor who may be interested in supporting SSLF we are actively seeking major support for our programs in order to make them more accessible to our community.

    So there you have it, there are lots of ways to get involved and we'd love to have you! For details on any of these options please send me a note to

    I look forward to seeing you when I show up as a guest here, and in the meantime know you are all in my heart. I feel you every day.


  15. P.S. Kathy and Anon~ We are working to make an East Coast Camp Widow possible, but I think it will be at least two years before we are ready to move the event. We have a goal of no longer than five. Much of this is dependent on funding, which as you can imagine is not a small obstacle. I promise you that we will keep working on it until we make it happen, so you will see Camp Widow on the East Coast. In the meantime, we'd love to have you join us on the West Coast (and I do know that is a scary thing Kathy) and if there is anything I can do to help you get there...please don't hesitate to conatct me. Also, look for the new Camp Widow website ( which will be launched April 1ST. This has been a real labor of love, and I can't wait to share it with all of you!

  16. Thank you, Michele, for sharing and putting into words my deepest most inner thoughts.

    Today, tomorrow, always, sincerest best wishes for what I lovingly refer to as "mourning joy."

    Linda Della Donna
    Founder, Director
    "...And sometime when I wasn't looking, I got a new life."