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About soaringspirits

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  • Birthday 12/29/1969
  1. Grief and Frosty the Snowman

    There is a song on the radio at this time of year, sung by the Carpenters, called “Merry Christmas, Darling.” The first Christmas after Phil died, hearing this song sent me into fits of tears. Not the sweet, sad, nostalgic type of tears—these were the hitting my hands on the dashboard or kicking my bed, angry, unreasonable type of tears. Every time the song came on I wanted to scream at the beautiful voice on the radio, because the sentiment was so infuriating. The lyrics proclaim that every day is a holiday with the one you love, so even if you aren’t together on Christmas Eve…no worries, you can be together in your dreams. At that point I was way beyond wanting to spend Christmas with Phil in my dreams! What I wanted was to hold him, to feel his warm breath on my cheek, and to sit on the couch, side by side, sipping coffee while the kids opened their gifts on Christmas morning. Every holiday tradition felt like a chore. Determined to check off each task on the holiday list, I dutifully put up outdoor lights—crying yet again when I discovered how meticulously Phil had packed away the lights. The kids and I dragged the tree into the house, but the glittering lights seemed to emphasize my gloominess. Opening a storage box, I found old Christmas cards full of cheerful greetings and good wishes. I sighed out loud as I read each one, thinking of how radically our lives had changed in only 365 days. One evening I reached into the bottom of the last plastic bin, and pulled out “Frosty.” Phil was famous in our family for the dance he did when Frosty, who played “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” at the push of a button, made his holiday debut. Phil’s dance included booty shaking, heel tapping, and all manner of silliness—unfailingly reducing the whole house to gales of laughter. No one could look at Frosty without giggling, because Phil’s dance was so outrageous. The kids would even try to get him to perform for their friends; they were always thrilled when he was successfully talked into a crowd pleasing dance recital. Sitting in front of the Frosty box alone, my sorrow surrounded me and filled me with self-pity. All the things I missed most about my husband were represented by that stupid box. His love of life, his absolute adoration of silliness, his ability to be completely in the moment, and his constant attempts to keep me laughing—my world was so empty without him, and there was a huge void in my life where joy used to reside. While I sat contemplating how awful my life had become since Phil’s death, I absently reached over and pushed Frosty’s button. Even through my tears I could not suppress the smile that Frosty’s song brought to my face. It was as if Phil was standing right in front of me, in all his holiday glory, telling me to wipe my tears and accept the joy the holiday season still offered. Spontaneously I recreated my husband’s holiday jig—that night Phil and I danced together, right in the middle of the kitchen. I could see his big smile and feel the warmth of his love with every note that the silly toy snowman warbled. Plopping down in my seat at the end of the song—breathless and a little surprised—I felt a glimmer of joy for the first time in months. The next time “Merry Christmas, Darling” came on the radio, I knew I needed to make peace with my inner Scrooge. As the opening cords played I sat quietly and really listened. This time I heard a new message. Phil and I can no longer physically share the same couch on Christmas morning, but the memory of the many precious moments we shared over the years is mine forever. In the years since his death, those memories have become like daydreams…just a thought away. I will have Christmas with Phil in my dreams for the rest of my life. There are still days when my heart aches with the need to feel his touch, and I often find the jolliness of the holidays to be bittersweet, but whenever I feel a hole developing in my soul, I fill it up with a holiday jig and the love of the man who can still make me smile. Phil’s playful spirit reminds me that joy is a gift of the moment. I’ve learned to take each moment as it comes, some are sad, others are filled with an intense longing for what used to be, but I can truly say that many are filled with wonder at all that God still has in store for me and gratitude for the unexpected blessings of the last two years. These days, at least once or twice during the holiday season, I drift off to sleep whispering to the man who lives on in my dreams…Merry Christmas, darling. ~Michele Neff Hernandez Director, Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation
  2. National Conference on Widowhood

    My name is Michele Neff Hernandez, and I am the Executive Director of the Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation. We are a non-profit organization focused on providing emotional and practical support to people grieving the loss of a loved one. This letter is to inform you of an event my organization is hosting. The National Conference on Widowhood will be held in San Diego, California from July 17-19, 2009. This event will provide useful resources and practical tools for rebuilding your life after the loss of a spouse. We have twenty-five speakers coming from thirteen states speaking on more than thirty topics specifically related to recreating a positive and purpose-filled life. We are proud to welcome some of the top professionals in the area of grief and loss, as well as some women who speak only with their "widow credential." We will begin the weekend with a benefit concert, co-hosted with the San Diego Symphony, at a gorgeous outdoor venue located shore side on the San Diego Marina. Opening our day on Saturday with a keynote address, and continuing with thirty-two break-out sessions throughout the day, we will offer a variety of perspectives on the meaning of being a widow and the ways we can move forward after the devastating loss of a life partner. The hosted picnic lunch will include a two-hour Resource Expo featuring a variety of products and services focused on the needs of our attendees. Saturday evening will end with a semi-formal banquet featuring a special guest entertainer, and the acceptance of a variety of awards given to women who have made significant contributions to the widow community. We will end our time together Sunday morning by putting one foot in front of the other--literally. SSLF is proud to host the first annual Widow Dash 5k Run/Walk. Proceeds will fund grants for widows here in the US who are in emergency situations as a result of the loss of their spouse. Our dash will take us on a lovely route along the edge of the San Diego Marina, and end with snacks and race awards at San Diego's Spanish Landing Park--an inspiring end to a positive and empowering weekend. For a complete list of speakers, an event overview, and registration information, please visit any of the links below: http://www.sslf.org/index.html http://www.sslf.org/conference.html http://www.sslf.org/c_speakers.html The success of this event will be dependent on getting the word out to websites, organizations, and support people in the field of grief and loss, so that the women who need this information get it in time to attend this unique event. Your thoughts on this conference would be welcome, and if you are willing to post a link or spread the word to anyone you know who could benefit from this weekend--I would be most appreciative.Please note that we welcome widows, widowers, bereavement professionals, family members, widows who have remarried, clergy of any type, and anyone else who supports someone they love through the maze of grief. Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have, With warm regards, Michele Michele Neff Hernandez Executive Director Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation 2828 Cochran St. #194 Simi Valley, Ca 93065
  3. The Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation (SSLF), a non-profit organization committed to providing compassionate community support to widows, and anyone grieving the loss of a loved one, will host its first annual National Conference on Widowhood from July 17-19, 2009 in San Diego, California. “The purpose of the conference is to provide widows with an opportunity to celebrate all they have accomplished; while looking forward to what they are yet to become,” said Michele Hernandez, executive director for the Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation. “We’re expecting 2,000 widows to join us from across the country, and around the world, for what promises to be an inspiring, hope-filled event.” An extraordinary lineup of speakers, most of whom are widows, are slated to appear, such as: · Taryn Davis – founder of the American Widow Project website and support center, and creator of The American Widow Project; a documentary about the stories of six young military widows; · Helen Fitzgerald – author of The Grieving Child; · Carole Brody Fleet – author of Widows Wear Stilettos; · Kathleen Reynolds Ph.D. – Certified Financial Planner; · AnnMarie Ginella – founder/editor of Widow-Speak.org; and · Michele Neff Hernandez – executive director of Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation and creator of http://www.widowsbond.com In addition, the conference will present programs focused on giving widows the tools they need to rebuild their lives following the devastating loss of a spouse. “By joining our hearts through the shared experience of loss, and encouraging each other to create a life of purpose and joy—we can change the face of widowhood for generations of women to come,” said Ms. Hernandez. The conference will be held at the beautiful San Diego Marriott & Marina, situated on the San Diego Bay. The tentative agenda for the National Conference for Widowhood will include – a meet and greet reception for widows (a chance for widows signed up in the Widow Match program to meet their matches); an outdoor benefit concert; a general session; thirty-two break-out sessions featuring a variety of topics and speakers; a formal gala, and the First Annual Widow Dash 5k Run/Walk. “We are thrilled about the great schedule of programs and events planned for this important gathering, and we are especially excited to announce the screening of the critically acclaimed documentary The American Widow Project during the conference,” commented Ms. Hernandez. The Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation is focused on creating and implementing universal programs dedicated to the ideals of hope and healing; addressing the emotional and practical needs of those dealing with loss. “There are so many people who are struggling to cope with the daily reality of grief; in addition to the pain of loss, they also have to find first the desire, and then the courage to begin living again after the death of a spouse or family member. The Foundation will offer reassurance, through programs such as the National Conference on Widowhood, that life is possible after such heartbreak,” said Ms. Hernandez. The SSLF – http://www.sslf.org will serve as a venue for grieving people to share their stories and to reach out to others searching for answers, and a ray of hope. In addition, in the near future, the site will include valuable resources, such as support groups for adults and children in areas across the US, reading lists for a variety of topics associated with loss, a library of current website links that offer on-line support, a calendar of events addressing individuals coping with a variety of types of loss, and more. [align=center] [/align] For more information about the first annual National Conference for Widowhood or to register for the conference contact Michele Hernandez via email at contact@sslf.org or visit the Web site at http://www.sslf.org. Early registration runs through January, 15, 2009. The Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation is a 501 © 3 non-profit organization based in Simi Valley, California.