Emma’s Story: How Camp Widow changed my grief

I decided to attend Camp Widow in the USA, in 2016, two years after Shane passed away because my friend Rebecca (from First Light) had been and spoke so highly of what she had gained from going. After already losing so much and having nothing else to lose I thought, why not.

I had been to a few widow gatherings with other Aussies and felt a sense of peace being around others that ‘got it’.  Honestly, that had helped me more than any grief counselling ever did. Also, Shane and I had planned to go to the USA for our 20th wedding anniversary but had never made it so I thought that would be a great way to honour him and hopefully find my way, a little after two years of being completely lost.

Once I’d committed to going and had booked and paid for my tickets panic set in! I was so scared, Shane and I had always planned on traveling and I swore I’d never travel again after he was gone. Yet here I was booking a holiday to the other side of the world, all by myself, and attending Camp Widow with people I’d never met from all over the world. What was I thinking!

Knowing I’d have the support of four of my other Aussie widow sisters who were also braving it and attending Camp also helped more than you can imagine. Knowing I wouldn’t be completely alone helped me get on that plane and travel to San Diego.

I was also excited about some of the workshops I’d booked myself into for Camp. They were so insightful. There were tears but also laughter, a lot of reflection but most importantly I felt good about sharing the love Shane had and I had and listening to others talk about their lost loves as well and sharing our stories.

Camp Widow helped me more than I could have possibly hoped for. I made life-long friends and I came home knowing I was going to be ok. And even when I’m not ok that’s ok too.

That following year after Camp Widow, a lot changed for me. I could remember Shane with a smile instead of a tear and I felt like I slowly started to “live” again instead of just existing.

So if there is anyone reading this who has thought about attending Camp Widow or even just going to a catch up with other widows, please do it. There’s nothing you need to fear.

After losing the love of your life there’s nothing you can’t face! You are braver than you know. And although I know there are days where if you just manage to get out of bed and cook dinner that night then it’s been a good day, but being amongst other widows and widowers is one of the best things you can do for YOU.

No one understands you or your pain more than those who have also experienced that pain.

Emma attending Camp Widow in San Diego, USA in 2016

Emma and her beloved Shane

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