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Annual Camp Widow event inspires widows to build connections

"This idea was born because of my desire to have a tribe of widowed people," said Neff Hernandez.

SAN DIEGO — The 13th Annual Camp Widow returned to San Diego after being cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Erin Meredith got the call no one ever wants to answer back in 2011. Her husband, Steven, was killed in a motorcycle accident. 

"I was so lost and felt so alone. Even though I was surrounded by family, I still felt so alone," said Meredith.

They shared two boys just one and three-years-old. While dealing with grief, she searched for support groups and found Camp Widow, a program founded by Michelle Neff Hernandez who is a widow herself.

"I went on a journey to find other widowed people and I finally felt I was understood. This idea was born because of my desire to have a tribe of widowed people," said Neff Hernandez.

She says it’s an annual weekend event that provides numerous workshops to help rebuild lives and hopes for the future. "Love on a Leash” volunteers are also there with therapy dogs for emotional support.

"Being able to communicate with other people who say 'I get it' and are still surviving and dealing with it. I met lifelong friends. It’s the connection with people that matters most," said Meredith. 

That connection has brought Meredith full circle. She found love again and had two more boys. She is now a volunteer for Camp Widow to help others who have lost loved ones. 

“The process of finding love after loss takes an incredible person. Camp Widow will give you connections with people and it has been life changing," said Meredith. 

Registration fees range from $300 to $700. Organizers say they provide financial support if participants need it. The next Camp Widow in San Diego will be held in July 2022.

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