Some of you may know that my Dad joined me at CampWidow in Toronto. Not as a widower – my mom is healthy and fine – but as a Rotarian. His club was the host club for the International Grant the Camp Widow received.
I have to say it was a little unnerving to have him there. My Dad and Mom have been huge supporters in my grief. They have stood by me and given me strength, courage and permission to grieve as I needed to – even if they didn’t fully “get it”. I was ok with them not getting it because that would mean one of would have died.
But now, here I was with my Dad in my world – my world of grief, my world of supporting others, my world of those who truly get it. It was a gift for me to see my Dad get a whole new appreciation for my journey and for the journey of the 100 other widows and widowers who were at Camp. He embraced the experience, he embraced the black humor that was shared by many, he embraced the importance of community. And I thank everyone at Camp for embracing him and welcoming him into our widowed world.
I asked my Dad to be our guest blogger this week – here are his thoughts.
I recently attended Camp Widow in a downtown Toronto executive hotel … some Camp ! Camp Widow is a 3- day event, developed by Soaring Spirits of California to help those who have lost carry their grief.
It is designed primarily for young widows and widowers with young families, grieving the loss of loved ones while building hope for the future for their transformed families. All were welcomed and the 125 participants had many personal stories.
This 11th Camp, and the first one outside the USA, was made possible by the continuing growth of Soaring Spirits, participation by the Hummingbird Center for Hope in Ontario, and support by a Rotary Club in California and the Rotary Club of Burlington Ontario. I attended as a volunteer from the Canadian Club.
It was very evident that Camp Widow is an energetic mix of activities and experiences, including professional support, wonderful peer involvement and the glow of exceptionally strong inner strength from those grieving. It is good to vocalize, so the gang celebrated their personal achievements with a flash mob in the Eaton Center. In the seminars, they discussed tough and real issues of legal and financial needs, as well as personal perceptions they all face. The dinner and evening wing-ding was as good as any sorority party in Toronto.
As a bystander, I gained a far greater understanding of a part of life that I have never closely experienced.