Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Camp Widow

Two weekends ago I had the great fortune to attend the first Camp Widow East in Myrtle Beach, NC sponsored by the Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation.  I know...."camp" sounds like a misnomer for a grief event, but it really did have a FUN feel to it.  There was a lot more laughter than tears...we played games, had social events, and formed friendships and bonds that will endure for a long time. I've dedicated the month of May to sharing what I learned from the wonderful sessions I attended and from the other widows/widowers at camp.  I hope you can catch some of the spirit of Camp Widow.

From my session "Happiness After Death" by Drs. Gloria & Heidi Horsley, I learned to keep my heart open to hope.  In fact, that is the name of their organization, Open to Hope, which helps those grieving after a loss.  Gloria and Heidi recognized that this was NOT the life I planned, wanted or hoped for, but they assured me that my overall satisfaction with life will return to what it was with time.  Time...I have heard it is the great healer.  I will never get over losing my husband, but I will overcome the pain.

Here are the the "Nine Steps to Finding Hope After Loss" that I learned from this session:

  1. Lighten Your Load - Grief is heavy lifting.  Let people help you.
  2. Find Gratitude - Being thankful can change how you feel.  In fact 8 minutes of gratitude a day can change your brain chemistry.
  3. Be of Service - Take care of yourself first and then move out to others.
  4. Move Your Body - Exercise can neutralize the acid in your body. This makes you feel better (and look better, too).
  5. Take Care of Yourself and Then Others - Don't forget to make yourself a priority.  Don't put your own essential needs at the bottom of your to-do list.
  6. Recognize Signs - God sends us signs to let us know that things are going to be okay.  Open your hearts to those connections.
  7. Hug and Be Hugged - You need to give and/or receive 18 hugs a day.
  8. Laughter - Allow yourself to laugh and don't feel guilty about it.  If you laugh it changes how you feel for 45 minutes.
  9. Stay Connected - Don't isolate yourself.  
I very much enjoyed this session and the practical advice offered.  Some of these things I learned on my own the hard way.  Others were common sense, but widow-head had obscured their obvious benefit.

Hoping you find comfort in these steps toward hope.


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