Monday Night Get Togethers With Friends

We regularly get together on Mondays at two of our favourite restaurants – Symposium Cafe and the Olive Press.  Recently we met up at both places on different Mondays and here are the pics! Be sure to register on meet up for Monday October 16th’s dinner at The Olive Press!

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Do You Have Post Traumatic Growth Syndrome?

Dave Sanderson survived the plane crash on the Hudson River in 2009.  In the video below, he talks about surviving the crash, the lessons he learned about himself and life, and post traumatic growth – finding new positive life-changing shifts in thinking and relating to the world, after a traumatic event.

Surviving and then learning to live again after trauma and loss is something everyone is faced with at one time or another. How you manage and how you continue moving on in a positive way is resilience, a topic members of Widowed Friends know very well.

We’d like to hear your thoughts about bouncing back and resilience, so we can share your advice  with others who may be struggling with loss or feeling alone or sad. How did you manage in the early days of loss; how do you manage now? What advice do you wish you’d received?

If you’d like to offer some thoughts, please feel free to enter them in the comments section here or email them to Dorothy, Stephanie or Lesley and we’ll put them together in another blog post. Together, we have a wealth of knowledge and experience which might help others find hope and strength as they move forward.

Let us know how you like the video!
 

 

Where Are You?

Look who is reading the blog!

As we reach the end of September we are delighted to report that this site has been viewed over 80,000 times in the past year and a half.  As you can see from the chart on the left, for the month of September, the website has been accessed by people in Canada and around the world.

We hope you have found some interesting things on the site. We’d like the opportunity to get to know you better and would really like to hear from you.

Are you a widow or widower looking for support in Canada or elsewhere?  Are you local to us i.e. in Halton, south central Ontario or located somewhere else?  Is there something you’d be interested in reading about that we can add to the site?

Please let us know your location in the comments section and if there is something specific you’d like us to talk about.

Thanks for being there!

 

September Heat……And Pizza Too!

With the humidex approaching 40C,  it was a warm crowd that met up at Stephanie’s for another great pizza evening.  Escaping to the garden didn’t offer much relief as the humidity made the outdoors a bit swampy, but a group braved the heat to enjoy the last of the summer outside.  Another group stayed inside to enjoy a little air-conditioning  and chatting. Everyone enjoyed hor d’oeuvre, Stephanie’s home-made sangria, a little wine, a little beer, some salads, pizza and desserts.

Thanks to all the food contributors as well as all the helpers.  Special thanks to Stephanie for opening her house to the crowd. Here are some pics from the event:

Labour Day Sunday at Edna’s

A huge thanks to Edna for opening her lovely home to a Widowed Friends group on Sunday.  Great weather made for a wonderful outdoor get together in Edna’s beautiful garden.

The menu included schnitzel and cabbage rolls prepared by Edna – they were delicious – as well as many other tasty dishes contributed by attendees.

Many thanks to our team of wonderful volunteers, Steph, Dorothy and Anita serving, Kathy F replenishing platters as needed, Glenda and Penny working to ensure everyone was served and Donna making sure everyone had what they needed.

A big thanks to chief kitchen organizer Glenda, and to Leslee and Penny for ensuring everyone had name tags, as well as to our fantastic, efficient clean up crew including Sharon, Kathy, Penny, Anita and Ursula.

A wonderful way to spend a long weekend afternoon!

Help Build Kindness in the World

With so many bad things going on in the world, it can seem like kindness is in short supply.

Yet an understanding listener or a word of encouragement can create waves of kindness that ripple throughout peoples’ lives, their families and the whole community.

It’s up to all of us to make sure we’re building kindness in the world around us, and Acclaim Health is providing an opportunity for you to make it happen in our communities through a variety of volunteer opportunities.

  • Volunteer at Acclaim Health – you’ll join an amazing team of wonderful, caring people working hard to make the world a better place.
  • Share this info with someone you think would make a great volunteer.
  • Attend an upcoming training session or choose another one of their other current volunteer opportunities

The two upcoming training sessions are free – check out the times and dates below:

Hospice Visiting Volunteer Training

One of the most meaningful volunteer experiences you’ll ever have.

Learn to companion a person with a life-threatening illness by listening, supporting and being present.

Next training session:

Thursday evenings from September 28 – November 30, 2017

6:00pm – 9:00pm

Acclaim Health, 2370 Speers Rd., Oakville

More Information | Apply Online

Bereavement Peer Support Volunteer Training

Have you experienced grief yourself and are now strong enough to help someone else move forward? Are you a caring and compassionate listener?

Help another through the grieving process by becoming a Bereavement Peer Support volunteer.

Next training session:

Monday afternoons from October 16 – December 4, 2017

1:00pm – 4:00pm

Church of the Nazarene, 320 Bronte Rd., Oakville

More Information | Apply Online

If you have questions about any of the volunteer opportunities, contact Dee Kearns at 905-827-8800 x2313  for more information.

Aloha From Donna’s Backyard

It was a perfect day for a Hawaiian themed pig roast, and Donna’s lovely backyard was the perfect venue for 50+ attendees to enjoy the weather, the bar-b-q and the great company.

It was also a surprise birthday celebration for Donna, Shirley K and Henny who all turned 39 -what a coincidence!  Check out the pics here – just click on any picture to open the slideshow.

 

Lazy, Hazy, Reading Days of Summer

Hard to believe it is mid August already!  Have you taken some time to rest and relax and enjoy the summer days?  What’s been your favourite thing to do this summer? Where have you been?  Did you take a vacation?  Let us know in the comment section – we’d love to see your pictures and post a few holiday snaps for everyone to see. You can email Lesley, Steph or Dorothy with your pics!

In the meantime, if you are looking for a few summer reading ideas, here’s a few that  that we thought our community might be interested in checking out.

The Globe and Mail recently published an opinion piece called How to Save Yourself From the Abyss . Writer Mitch Landell writes that sometimes there is nothing we can do about our circumstances, but there are active things we can do ourselves to improve how we feel. If you are feeling a bit down, take a read and tell us what you think.

And then there’s that tricky issue about dating as a widow/widower.  Here’s one take on it from the website Sixty and Me.  The article is Are We Too Old For Boyfriends in Our Sixties?  What do you think, do you agree or disagree?

Another favourite is the website One Fit Widow by author Michelle Steinke-Baumgard. Michelle recently wrote a great article called 14 Ways To Get Lucky in Life.  Her premise is similar to our first article – life is what you make it – but it has a few different ideas in it that you might find interesting.

And on a completely different note, if you need a bit of a summer giggle, check out British comedian Michael McIntyre’s take on the challenges of losing weight.

Oh Canada (Day)!

Huge thanks to Donna for hosting another big event at her house!  Over 50 WFH members came out for a Canada Day celebration bbq and social.

Despite some discouraging rain in the afternoon, the sun finally returned and the party moved outside to Donna’s deck and patio to enjoy the green trees and lovely surroundings in the backyard.

A rousing rendition of Oh Canada was sung by the crowd….in the rain!! We are a hardy bunch!

Thanks as well to all the many helpers who brought enough food to feed several armies and to all the organizers, dishwashers, and clean up crew including Dorothy, Stephanie, Glenda, Henny, Penny, Lesley and of course the amazing Donna, who hosted, cooked and organized simultaneously.

Happy Canada Day!

 

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

It seems like everyone is celebrating, happy and carefree this time of year. What we sometimes miss is the undercurrent beneath the celebrations of people living with loss, illness and loneliness.

Finding comfort in the face of loss or hardships is difficult for many widows and widowers, so we offer a few warm thoughts on how to manage as another new year begins.

First you have already taken positive steps by joining our welcoming community. If ever there was a group of people who understand when you may be feeling a little bit low, it is us.

Second, be sure to come out regularly to events – whether it is a widowed friends event or another organization or interest group, getting out and about is an important way of reconnecting with the world and finding your way forward. Even though it may be cold outside, coming out of your home and joining a group at dinner or bowling or whatever your interests are can help warm you inside and out.

Third, is a tough one. Give yourself a break. Be patient with yourself. We know how difficult going through loss and change is and we all do it in our own unique and individual ways. You may feel like you’ll never recover or that you need to be different or more upbeat than you feel. However you feel is ok. It will get better with time and you can’t rush it or change it, so be kind to yourself.

Stephanie & Dorothy
Stephanie & Dorothy

At Widowed Friends of Halton we are committed to enriching each other’s lives through understanding and being present for all our members as we continue on our life journeys. We wish you the very best and brightest New Year in 2017.

 

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Some Fall Reads We Thought You Might Like……

When you’ve lost someone you love, it’s hard to know which way to turn and how to cope with ongoing grief.  We ran across this article entitled Healing Your Grief By Helping Others  by Rhonda O’Neill and thought you might find its perspective helpful and interesting as you travel on your recovery journey.

If you think you’d like to try volunteering as suggested in the article, Acclaim Health is always looking for help. We recently chatted with Melissa Cameron about opportunities at Acclaim and our Volunteer page also lists some ways that we have found helpful for ourselves and the community. Let us know if you have other volunteer opportunities that we can add to our list.

Another good post we thought you might like is about coping with the upcoming holiday season. It’s always a hard time to manage when someone important is missing from our lives, and challenging for family and friends who often work hard at trying to make us feel better. This article called The Grieving Introvert and the Holidays by Megan Devine outlines strategies for the introverted person to cope with the holiday season and manage the pressures they may feel from others to participate.

If you have some favourite articles or books you’ve found to be inspirational and helpful, let us know by adding them to comments section.

 

 

Aren’t You Over It Yet?

Have you ever been asked this question by family or friends?  Popular culture suggests there’s a timeline for grief and after it’s finished, everything should return to almost normal –  we’ll achieve  “closure” and things will be peachy.  For many of us who have experienced loss, grief timelines and the concept of closure aren’t right.

14568219_918504438285393_1420420609631867381_nJust as we are all different and have unique experiences and responses to life situations, so our journey with grief can be quite different from each others. While there is much that unites us in the grief experience, there are lots of differences as well in how we learn to cope, recover and go on. Closure  is really more of a myth than reality and striving for it can only create more pain.

Recently comedian Patton Oswalt lost his wife suddenly and unexpectedly.  He’s written an essay in the New York Times titled I’ll never be 100 percent again describing how he has thrown himself into performing to manage his grief, calling it “a rebuke to grief, an acceptance of the messiness of life. I’ll never be at 100 percent again, but that won’t stop me from living through this.”

One of our favourite authors, Carol Brody Fleet also recently wrote a column on this topic in the Huffington Post entitled Why there is no such thing as getting over loss and what to focus on instead. 

What’s your experience been?  Have you ever been asked if you are over it and how long you are going to grieve?  Use the comment box to let us know your thoughts.

 

How Caring For A Dying Husband Made Life Worth Living

Tracy Grant is The Washington Post’s Deputy Managing Editor.  Here she talks about how the experience of caring for her dying husband changed her perspective on life.

 

Sunday Afternoon at Liz’s!

Potluck Buffet
Potluck Buffet

Many thanks to Liz for hosting a wonderful Fall Sunday afternoon potluck.  We had a great turnout as you can see from the pictures, and the food combined with great company made for a nice end to the weekend.

To see all the pictures, click here or check out Dorothy’s video here.

 

Bereavement Walking Group in Oakville & Burlington

Carpenter Hospice and Acclaim Health are partnering to offer walking groups in Burlington and Oakville this fall.  Registration and contact information is in the flyer below.

Walking Groups

Change Is As Good As A Rest…..

Turn your face to the sun and the shadows will fall behind you.  Maori proverb

We’re all striving to recover from loss and get our feet back under us after our world’s shifted.

There’s no end to the advice on recovery and resilience out there, but here’s a different idea for moving forward – travel. Breaking from routine, trying new things and meeting new people could be a key to finding new paths as we move forward on our recovery journeys.

Passport

Here’s a couple of articles Dorothy and Stephanie have found about travel that they thought you might be interested in reading. The first is How Travel Can Heal Your Grief and the second is Thankfully Money Can Buy Happiness.

If you are interested in travelling with our Widowed Friends group, check out our plans for Barbados in February 2017 here.

Bon Voyage!

 

The Hidden Benefits of Widowed Friends of Halton (WFH) Membership

We all know how nice it is to get together with friends and new acquaintances at various Widowed Friends of Halton events, but what we might not realize is all the hidden advantages being a member of the group provides.

Did you know that one of the biggest factors in your overall health is how connected you are to your community? Of course this includes family and friends, but being a part of a larger empathetic community like WFH also provides both support and diversion that is helpful when rebuilding our lives.

One theory scientists are researching is that community connections help trigger the release of stress-reducing hormones, which if left unchecked can adversely affect coronary arteries, insulin regulation, and the immune system.  Interestingly, evidence suggests that the life-enhancing effects of social support extend to the giver as well as to the receiver so all those warm chats, well wishes and hugs at each WFH event are good for all of us!

Here are a couple of articles we’ve found that provide some more detail. Just click on the links to read each article.

What has your experience been?  Have you seen benefits from being a member of WFH?  Share your experiences by entering your thoughts in the Comment box.

 

 

Hardwiring Happiness

In Dr. Flavia Ceschin’s recent presentation to Widowed Friends at our first anniversary dinner, she quoted Dr Rick Hanson on his thoughts about building resilience and finding happiness.

Here’s a video of Dr. Hanson discussing this approach to finding and sustaining happiness.

What do you think?  Would this technique work for you?  Leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts.

 

Exercising Your Resilience Muscle…Notes From Dr. Flavia Ceschin

Widowed Friends of Halton recently celebrated its first year anniversary and was privileged to have Dr. Flavia Ceschin as keynote speaker at its gala event.

flavia ceschinDr. Ceschin is a counselor who specializes in grief support and counseling as well as being the driving force behind Heartache2Hope a loss after suicide support community.

With over 8 years of counseling experience, Dr. Ceschin came to speak at our Widowed Friends anniversary event bringing a message of hope and resilience in the face of loss.

She kindly shared her presentation with us, so we’ve excerpted some key points to review and consider as we move forward on our journeys.


Dr. Flavia Ceschin
Dr. Flavia Ceschin

“Let’s take some time to think about healing from loss. What does that mean? We all know that “healing” does not mean that your heart will be exactly like new—there will always be a wound there from the loss. You will never be the same again. But healing does mean that your heart can love again, that it can feel joy again, that it can laugh again– with sincerity. That is what I mean when I talk about healing in grief.

This healing process is what psychologists call resilience. A lot of people think you’re either resilient or you’re not. But, do we either have it or don’t have it? Or, is resilience a skill we can cultivate? Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, lost her husband suddenly in May 2015 and she answers this question eloquently in a recent speech:

“You are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. Like a muscle, you can build it up, draw on it when you need it. In that process you will figure out who you really are—and you just might become the very best version of yourself.”

Let’s look at what people who demonstrate resilience do and learn from that.

Point one: Resilient people start with reality, accept it, and build on it. That means they accept what has happened and where they are now—even if they don’t like it. They take inventory of their inner and outer resources and build their choices on a firm understanding of the resources available to them. They choose life and hope. I call it setting your intention to heal and to find joy in life again. This is your first task–To see yourself as a survivor, rather than a victim; to focus your attention on life and not just your grief. Healing from grief isn’t just about sitting in the pain of loss, it is also about creating a new life that makes you happy.

Point two: Resilience grows from the way we process or interpret the bad things that happen to us. Resilient people do not believe that everything that happens to them is because of them. They do not blame themselves. In the aftermath of loss, we often plague ourselves with “Should haves…Could have dones..”– Not helpful in healing. I have learned that, sometimes, bad things happen to good people. It has nothing to do with what they did or didn’t do. Accepting this and not blaming ourselves for everything helps make us stronger and open to renewal and life.

Point three: Resilient people take action. They are proactive. Remember what I said before–“time alone does not heal—it’s what you do in that time.” Grieving and restoring life, side by side.

Resilient people tend to be optimistic. I think proactive and optimistic go hand in hand. When faced with a challenge, they are more likely to say, “I can get through this.” They know that sorrow, despair and crushing grief will not last forever. They are able to sit in their grief with this knowledge that they will not be sitting there forever.

Point four: Resilient people choose to focus on the positive as well as the negative. Being resilient does not mean that you never experience hard days. But being resilient does mean that you choose to experience positive emotions along with the negative ones.

Make a deliberate choice to focus on the positive. This is hard to do because human beings are hardwired to focus more on the negative than the positive. For example, if 5 good things and 1 bad thing happen on a particular day—what do we usually ruminate about at the end of the day—the one bad thing. So how do we fight this tendency?

Rick Hanson is a neuropsychologist who wrote a book called Hardwiring Happiness suggests that we can hardwire our brain for happiness by focusing on “taking in the good”. To take in the good, we need to be proactive about making positive experiences an inherent part of our memory.   Then we need to “sit” in these positive experiences.

Point five: Resilient people do not believe that something will affect all areas of their life.   In other words, they look at the big picture and don’t just focus on one thing. When parents who have lost a spouse or child come to me and ask me how they can help their children, I always say “get kids back to their routine as quickly as possible.” I believe that this is often good advice for adults too. The timing of getting back into your routine, or developing a new one, is different for each person. Each person’s grief journey is as unique as his or her thumbprint. But most often when they get a routine back or develop a new one—whether that is going to work or other activities—it has helped them. At first, people’s experience is one of “what am I doing here and why would anything matter?” but slowly, activities and work becomes a welcome distraction and a source of accomplishment and new confidence. This routine can help you see that there are areas in your life that are going well—it gives you the big picture and that there is more to your life than your loss.

Point six: Resilient people are willing to be helped by others and proactively reach out to others. Human beings do not grieve well alone. A big part of being resilient comes from the support of friends, family and community.   Resilient people not only rely on their own strength, but also the strength of others to help guide them through tough times.

If times seem really dark and you feel stuck, don’t be afraid or hesitate to seek professional help to give you that boost you need in moving forward.”

To read the full text of Dr. Ceschin’s presentation, please check out our resources section. To learn more about the counseling Dr. Ceschin provides you can contact her at drflaviaceschin@gmail.com.

What are your thoughts on resilience? Add your comments about ways you’ve found to enhance resilience and we’ll post for the group.