I’m going to be honest. Walking into Camp Widow 2017 was overwhelming.
And I will admit, my first instinct was to run away. Not because of the people – the welcome was warm and inviting, the event was so well organised, and the location in San Diego California on a summer day was just stunning.
What I found so confronting was the reason I was there at all.
I had suffered a loss.
My life had changed forever, on an unremarkable November day in 2016.
My husband, at just 39 years old, was gone.
And here, at Camp Widow, there was no getting away from that fact. I hid in the toilets and cried. I considered going back to my hotel room and pretending there had been a big mistake.
I didn’t belong here, right?
It was exactly where I needed to be.
And as the event progressed, I understood what a lifeline I’d been thrown.
I’ve made friends for life.
I cried my eyes out at the stories of loss, but had some laughs too, sharing stories of badly-handled condolences and well-intentioned, but awful, advice from those fortunate enough to have no idea about the grieving process.
I discovered that you are so much stronger than you ever imagined you could be.
I learned that I was not alone.
That someone else would understand exactly how I was feeling, no matter how crazy or low or angry or desperate that feeling might be.
When I went to Camp Widow, I had not yet reached 6 months since my husband died. But I sat listening to those who were further down the grief path and I saw that there were ways to survive.
That though my old life was gone, that didn’t mean a new one was impossible.
In the middle of grieving, it’s hard to think straight, even harder to imagine being in a room full of strangers.
But this isn’t your average room full of strangers.
If you have the opportunity to get to Camp Widow, please take it.
I hope to meet you there 🙂