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Widowed Village connects peers with each other for friendship and sharing. The moderators, administrators, and others involved in running this site are not professionals.

Please don't interpret anything you read here as medical, legal, or otherwise expert advice. Don't disregard any expert's advice or take any action as a result of what you read here.

We're friends, not doctors, financial or legal professionals, and we're not "grief experts." But we are here, and we've been "there."

Here's a place for campers to share their Camp experience with those who weren't able to make it to Myrtle Beach.

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About 20 Widville campers gathered at the pool bar Thursday afternoon to meet for the first time and get acquainted. What a great afternoon ... and evening!  And what fun to match up faces with our WV profile names!  Michele and Robin even stopped by for a visit!  It was a great start to the first-ever Camp Widow East.  Today Camp will officially start with an 8am volunteer meeting, registration beginning at 9am, new camper orientation at 9:30 and then the workshops, sessions and roundtable discussions begin. There's a welcome reception at 6:30 to meet others who arrive throughout the day. Day 1 begins now!

We took over the outdoor dining area after the pool bar closed!

Hi all! I'm manning the Widowed Village booth here at CWE12 ... and using Supa's MacBook which I'm not at all familiar with!  More campers have arrived ... sessions have begun ... hugs have been shared ... new connections have been made. These are all of the things that make Camp Widow so amazing.

If you have questions or want a message relayed to a camper who happens to be here without their laptop, go ahead and post and I'll do my best to pass them along. I'll post more photos here in WV this evening - and others will be, too.

What a great day here in Myrtle Beach! The clouds cleared and made way for a gorgeous blue sky. Many campers squeezed in time to walk along the shore, swim in the ocean, get some sun or run for miles. New Camper Orientation, Round Tables and Workshops were held, followed by a fabulous Welcome Reception. The absolute best part of Camp is meeting everyone, listening, talking, sharing, laughing, crying, connecting.

Notes from the Open to Hope workshop today:

          9 Steps to HOPE

  1. Lighten your load
  2. Find your gratitude
  3. Be of service; pay it forward
  4. Move your body
  5. Take care of yourself - and then others
  6. Recognize signs
  7. Hug and be hugged
  8. Laughter
  9. Stay connected

Quote shared by a fellow camper:  "You learn to love the place that someone has left behind for you."

It's been another fabulous day at Camp Widow East. Michele's Keynote this morning was amazing, the workshops have been thought-provoking, tearful, and even full of laughter. Everyone is now getting all dolled up for the banquet. After the banquet, we'll all go out to the beach to toss our love notes into the ocean. I'll post photos and more later.

The Farewell Breakfast and Closing this morning will end the very first Camp Widow East Coast. What an amazing weekend.

Here's a picture from last night ... that's our Chris-NC in the red hat, Matt Logelin in the black & white hat and our leader, Michele Neff Hernandez, in the black and white gown dancing to YMCA.

I have so many thoughts bouncing around in my head now that I've returned from Camp Widow East. It was an amazing experience. I couldn't wait to meet those I've gotten to know here in WV ... such very special connections. But I also ended up meeting many others who aren't in WV, people I wouldn't have connected with if I hadn't attended camp.

I've seen others posting here and on FB about it, encouraging their friends to attend Camp if they are at all able, and I second that. Yes, the total weekend cost can be high, which may make it seem impossible for some to do. But there are options.

  • Reach out to friends and family and others for support through a CrowdRise fundraiser:  CrowdRise - SSLF
  • Suggest friends/family give you Camp Bucks for special occasions: Camp Bucks
  • Start saving your change now in a jar marked 'Camp Widow'
  • Contact SSLF to find out what you can do to perhaps make it possible for you to attend

Michele's keynote ... wow ... didn't expect that she could outdo her speech last August in San Diego ... but she did. Her analogy of losing our spouses to free-falling into the bottom of the Grand Canyon and looking up and thinking there was no way out was spot on. But then she described seeing others climbing their way out of the bottom of the canyon, all at different points along the rock wall, making their way ... sometimes climbing straight up, but then moving sideways, then down a bit, then back up ... gives us the hope we need that we can do that, too. It's what we see here in WV. It's not a straight path for any of us. But seeing others who keep trying - traveling up & down & sideways to find their way - is a beacon to others who are still laying on the canyon floor. Goodness! Just typing that brings the tears again. It was powerful.

Notes from "Discovering the New ME" workshop by Marny Williams-Balodis and Beth Bailey

Redefining the Self and Discovering “Who I Am”

  • Relearn the world
  • Acknowledge secondary losses
  • Take a break
  • "The irony is that here I was talking about all these great big life moments with no clue that it would ultimately be the millions of smaller moments that would bring me to my knees."  Kate Atwood, The Healing Place

The Choices We Make in Widowhood – Sacrifices and Blessings

  • Reset priorities
  • Reset or redefine our expectations
  • Trust yourself and your gut
  • "He can't live, but I can"
  • "They always say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself." Andy Warhol

Keeping the Door Open to Hope

  • Be in the moment
  • Live your "AND" (I'm a widow AND a ...?...)
  • Where do we find HOPE?
  • "Hope opens dark doors and companions you into the light of a new day." Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt
  • Remember him, honor him, and live your life

They ended with a "Treasure Hunt" exercise; a series of questions we answered individually that helped us to acknowledge the resources, knowledge, accomplishments, strengths, gifts and abilities that are present in our life – even though we often fail to recognize them.

Thank you to everyone who shared their time, their stories, their love, and their companionship this past weekend.

The MAGIC of Camp Widow can last as long as we remember how great if felt to be part of this amazing event! 

I received my Hope Matters 2013 Calendar yesterday and it is full of wonderful Camp East memories!  If you're interested in supporting Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation (the sponsors of Widowed Village) AND getting a beautiful calendar for your $20 ... here's where you'll find it.  They ran out of their first shipment, but are still taking orders.

It's on the 4th page, bottom row, middle


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