The third year anniversary of Widowed Friends (WF) is coming up May 27th and it feels pretty significant this year as the group continues to evolve and grow. We thought we’d ask Stephanie and Dorothy for their thoughts on the anniversary and how things are shaping up for the event May 27th at Hampton’s.
Q. This is the third anniversary of WF – how are you feeling about the growth of the group over the past 3 years?
A. Steph: It’s hard to believe 3 years have gone by since we had our first meeting with about 18 people at Cork’s restaurant in downtown Oakville. At that time, we just thought we’d get together with other widows and widowers once a month. We had no idea that we would grow so quickly and be organizing 3-4 events a week and have almost 200 members 3 years later! It feels like we have accomplished so much together over the past three years – we hope our members will come out May 27th to support the organization and celebrate their success in making this such a vibrant community.
Dorothy: That first meeting was an exciting event – I remember coming and being surprised at how many people were there, and then we just kept growing and growing! We are really thrilled to have the support of our members and look forward to a big turnout on May 27th!
Q. In the past 3 years you’ve held lots of events. Do you know how many events you’ve held and how many members have attended?
S&D: We’ve had 586 meet up activities over the past 3 years – and that’s not counting the trips we’ve been on as a group or the activities that members have created. If you add it all up we’ve had 9100 members attend events– of course, that is the same people attending multiple events, but we think that it’s a good indication of our success that people keep coming back and enjoying each other’s company.
Our most popular events are potlucks, – everyone enjoys the casual friendliness of a home event that makes it easy to meet and mingle with others, and the great food that everyone prepares is another delicious reason people love these events!
Q. What are your hopes for the future direction of the group?
S&D: Steph’s original idea was that many people who’ve experienced the loss of a spouse may be isolated and lonely. She wanted to help individuals become involved in life again, by reconnecting to others and the world through the WF community. We know there’s a big group of widows/widowers out there who may be alone and not aware of our community. We hope to grow the organization to reach more people and ensure that everyone has the option to join us on their paths to recovery.
Our first expansion is going to be in Milton on June 20th – if you know of anyone in the area who is a widow or widower, please let them know we are setting up a dinner evening just for them.
Q. How has the group helped you personally on your grief journey? How do you think it will help others over time?
Steph: Loneliness is one of the greatest challenges when dealing with the loss of a spouse. The reality of that new life can be very difficult and most people who haven’t experienced a similar loss don’t truly understand the depth of pain and sadness that can occur following losing a partner. Becoming part of the group has been a healing process and helped me move forward. Volunteering and giving back to our community has had a lasting impact on myself and my journey. The members of the group are a tremendous resource of support and knowledge and I am grateful to have met so many wonderful people.
Dorothy: It’s been a difficult journey over the years but one of the things I remember is how kind and giving so many people were when my husband passed away. I want to give back to people in need of friendship and comfort and help them find new ways to manage their lives going forwards. It’s been a great privilege to meet so many wonderful people at our events and share our life journeys. It’s also allowed me to find myself again and focus my energy in a positive way.
Q. Anything else you’d like to comment on?
Steph & Dorothy: We are hoping to see a lot of people come out to the anniversary dinner – we’ve worked hard to create and manage WF and provide understanding care for the people in the group. We hope they will join us in celebrating in the anniversary festivities as we start another year. Looking forward to a great event – RSVP soon to reserve your spot!