I continuously encourage my high school students to help one another. Their developing adolescent egos sometimes need to be diverted away from their own overwhelming desires.
“Sharing is caring” I tell them.
But then I have to add a disclaimer about homework and test answers. “That is cheating!” I warn them, and then we go from there.
I learned a lot about sharing from my own personal loss.
“If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.” (Booker T. Washington)
I guess my own healing journey in 1993 was meant to start out as an introspective voyage. My recovery began deep from within and slowly oozed outward like sap dripping out of a tapped maple tree in the early spring after a cold New England winter.
For over ten years I explored my true feelings and allowed myself to honestly express them on paper. I let go of my insecure feeling of being “different” and accepted my widowhood. Through this process, I slowly discovered my true inner strength. And then fortunately, in 2010, I was given the opportunity to share my story through my book and a sense of joy and a new purpose came into to my life.
“Happiness is not so much in having as sharing. We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” (Norman MacEwan)
When my grandfather’s second wife died, he expressed to me how lonely he was in his big home. Two years later when my spouse died, Pop and I shared our experiences. He truly understood what I was saying. He mentioned that he hated coming home to an empty house at night and said that I was fortunate to have young children, his great-grandchildren, at home with me. I confided in him that I was writing a book about my grief journey and he encouraged me to finish it. I knew that his mother, my great-grandmother, had written a book about the Biblical figure Queen Ester and when I saw him in the summer of 1996, he gave me a copy of her book with a hand-written note. It read:
Dear Kim & all:
I am pleased to enclose a copy of “Forever Esther” that my mother wrote in 1968-28 years ago. I am also pleased that you are writing a book. Will look forward to seeing it, if I’m still here. Pleased that you all are doing well-also Harry. (our dog)
Hastily- Pop “B”
My grandfather died a little over one year later and he never got to read my book. But we shared, and I know that he cared.
Through my book, I have been introduced to three amazing organizations and the incredible women who have started them. Each entity exemplifies my “sharing is caring” view and that is why I admire all of them so much.
Michele Neff Hernandez, herself a young widow, started the Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation in May of 2008 to “provide a unique peer-based support community for grieving people, with a special emphasis on those who are widowed.” During her signature Camp Widow West event in San Diego on Saturday August 11th , I will be presenting a workshop entitled “Do it Your Way: Find Your Own Whispers”. I am so proud to be a part of this organization and encourage anyone who has experienced a loss to check out her website and consider one of their events. Michele has touched so many lives and has made a commitment to spreading hope for others. Her web site is: www.sslf.org
The Open to Hope Foundation is “an online community where people can find and share inspirational stories of life, loss, and love” and is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Gloria Horsley’s son and Dr. Heidi’s Horsley’s brother Scott who was killed in a car accident at age 17. I have two radio broadcasts archived on this site with these two compassionate, knowledgeable women, and two of my articles as a contributing author will be included in their upcoming new e-book called “Open to Hope: Inspirational Stories of Handling Spouse Loss” thanks to Heather Horsley Johnson and the Open to Hope organization. This web site has a wonderful variety of resources for various types of losses. Check out everything it has to offer at www.opentohope.com. This is truly a family effort of caring and hope.
Last but certainly not least, Taryn Davis is a brave young military widow who started the American Widow Project in 2007 as a “ non-profit organization dedicated to the new generation of those who have lost the heroes of yesterday, today, and tomorrow, with an emphasis on healing through sharing stories, tears and laughter. Military Widow to Military Widow.” Taryn was a 2011 Top 10 CNN Hero and she is a truly hero to me. I am inspired by her courage and dedication to caring about others. You can read more about this remarkable woman and her wonderful weekend getaways at her website: www.americanwidowproject.org
I will hopefully meet all of the above extraordinary women in San Diego in August at Camp Widow West. Each one cares so much about others and I can’t wait to share with all of them.
What can you share? I am sure you have had meaningful experiences through which you have grown. All it takes is a moment to open up your heart and share what you have learned with another. It doesn’t have to be a book or a formal organization. It can be just a simple word or even a knowing hug. We are all trying to figure out our lives together on this planet, and every little bit helps!
“Sharing will enrich everyone with more knowledge.” (Ana Monnar)
Good luck sharing!