I arrived at my first camp widow in 2016 with so much pain and sorrow I could barely see through my tears to fill out registration forms. My husband Rob had died unexpectedly in his sleep the previous year. He was 35 and I was 33, and we were just starting to try and have a family. He was the love of my life for 15 years and then he was gone; it felt like my world had exploded into a million pieces.
When I think of the effort I made to get myself to my first camp widow – to bring myself to Canada to try to feel anything but loneliness and despair – I have so much self-empathy. When I reflect on that time, it makes me grateful for the survival instincts and resilience that we all have that keeps us pushing through despite the pain. This is not an insight I had in my first two years after Rob died.
In my grief journey I reconnected with my love of Bob Dylan music (25 years of being a fan) after 2 years of not listening to any music. Through that reconnection I began to explore and learn about the physiological effects of listening to music and how lyrics can help demystify aspects of grief and put words to grief experiences that are so hard to explain. My love of Dylan music preceded my life with Rob and I also have wonderful memories of Rob supporting my Dylan fandom in so many ways. It is a part of my life that I have on my own and that I also share with Rob. I gave a version of this presentation at an academic conference about Bob Dylan (yes that exists) in the spring of 2019 and to my surprise it was well received by a room of non-widowed people. I share these insights and findings now with my widow community with much love.