What are the words that describe the deeply moving experiences of life? How do we fully articulate what happens in those moments? The moments that satiate our human desire for connection. The times our hearts are broken open. Broken open by the full spectrum of our intertwined individual and shared lifespan. From devastation to a celebration and everything in between. Like facets of a gem, they shape and carve us in ways that reveal our unique “human” qualities.
In a world where we have access to so much information, the abundance of noise can detract from these moments. Where doing and fixing are rushed to every situation to quench our need for immediate satisfaction. With everything being “mass” produced and overshared, the simple act of being present gets lost. We find ourselves craving connection in the shared human experience to just BE.
What if we knew there would be a community willing to be there, see us, and walk beside us when we experience the death of our spouse or every other profound human moment?
That is us. Sunrise Retreats. At least the widowed experience. (smile)
The mission of Sunrise Retreats wraps itself around the act of being present for this part of the human journey. With our hearts, hands, and ears as instruments, we strive to create a container for widows to navigate this unknown yet oh-so-natural landscape. We hold witness to the natural flow of life and specifically, the consequence of loving another person. We get to share with others what we needed AND have therefore given each other and ourselves.
Although it often feels as if we are the group that people feel really uncomfortable around. A worry that they may “catch” what we have or not know what to say or do. It is the part of life we don’t really want to accept that will ever happen to us. I get it. I didn’t always, but I get it now. I couldn’t and wouldn’t have prepared for widowhood if I had tried. Nobody can.
What I would say is, live in the present, do your best to love hard, and live fully. And a whole book worth of wisdom I would love to have shared with my younger, pre-widow self.
What we can do today is create a community of hopeful healing for when it does happen to others. Because it will happen. It is a normal part of life and we won’t like it, but we will get through it.
Making our Widow Care Packages
You will not see many pictures of our events or moments. We are often too busy being “present” with each other. And honestly, that is what we do best. All hands-on deck means we are listening with open hearts, creating a safe space for ALL the widow’s journey to be validated and honoring LIFE.
This takes practice. A lot of practice and a lot of self-care for ourselves as volunteers. We understand that when we step into one of our offerings, it is about our attendees, not ourselves. But it is about us in the sense that we need to be aware of our own healing journey so we can truly be present for others.
Let’s just say “we are all walking each other home.” Ram Dass
This is why we have small group gatherings and are acutely sensitive to the nature of what it is that brings us together. It is scary to step into space where you are focused on your heart’s pain point. When you are living with the discomfort every day, why, some would think, would you purposefully choose to put yourself in a Widow Retreat?
Because something magical really does happen when we come together in our healing.
I feel normal. It feels so good to be able to laugh and cry in the same sentence.
It is ok to be weepy all the time. Oh my goodness, YOU TOO?
I feel lighter. I am not alone. I have hope. I feel empowered.
I feel seen and so much more!
If you have been to one of our Sunrise Retreats gatherings, you know that there is a wide spectrum of emotions and moments. There is room for it all. Because that is life. Do we sit around and cry the whole time? Nope – has not happened yet. If you could only be a fly on the wall – but what happens at our retreats, stays at the retreat!
Why do we do what we do at Sunrise Retreats?
My path to Sunrise Retreats started here. And I want it to be here for the next woman.
It is a very precious honor to witness another human navigate the deepest depths of their pain without fixing it. Each of us has personal stories that have carved us into the unique human beings that we are. When surrounded by others who can stand in front of you, hold space for the reality of your story, and embody hope, we can trust ourselves to continue going, despite the unknown. There is a container for us to push up against, fall apart, heal, and grow. We know that there is room for pain and joy – a lot of it. We are not afraid of each other’s process because more than likely, one of us has or is navigating it too.
It is a call for each of us to remember our most basic needs as humans.
It is a call for us to be present in the moment. To give ourselves and each other presence. Amongst all the chaos, isolation, and noise, we can come together and connect in a way that feeds our deepest yearning for humanity.
To belong, be seen, and be known.