WAY members head for adventure weekend

February 2022

WAY member Pete from Portsmouth, who was widowed in August 2021, headed for a weekend of adventure earlier this month at PGL Caythorpe Court with his two sons and 100 other WAY members and children. This was the first WAY adventure weekend since the start of the pandemic. Pete takes up the story…

Grief for me is losing my beautiful soulmate, and wife of 15 years at the age of 36 to cancer. My whole world fell apart, and I was left holding our two beautiful boys.

I found WAY not long after losing my wife. I was actively looking for connection, understanding, and a safe place to ask those burning questions that keep me up at night. Such as “is it normal to feel like this?”, “where do I go for help?”, and the biggest question of them all “can anyone understand what I’m going through?”. I wasn’t ready to get out, make time for myself, meet people, or even talk, I just wanted to listen and learn about this journey through grief.

I eventually plucked up the courage to join and what I got in return was unexpected, and far beyond the value I’d paid up front. After joining WAY my eyes were opened to this amazing resource of peer support, a brother and sisterhood that share a common bond in our futures and happiness that were stolen from us far too soon.

There were so many people in so many relatable experiences, be they parents, lost to the same disease, or have walked similar path in life. I was soon given comfort, answers to anything that could be answered, a safe space to share without judgement or recourse, and hope that minute by minute, day by day, I’ll get there. There are no shortcuts in grief but walking the path alongside others means we can share and support ourselves no matter how tough it gets.

The beauty of WAY is that you get out what you want, and you give what you want, no more or less. Having plucked up the courage to join a new members’ Zoom chat, I met someone I’m now proud to call a friend. He was bereaved about the same time, was struggling in many of the same ways as me and was also now flying solo with two children of similar ages.

He introduced me to others, and I now have a regular safe space to meet people, moan about my day and generally have some much-needed adult conversation (which can sometimes turn childish lol). We now check-in with each other on a regular basis as we share (albeit completely different and personal to each of us) a mutual journey of self-discovery and navigation through life after loss.

A truly transformative experience

WAY runs several regular meetups and events through their website, and PGL Grantham caught my eye. A weekend filled with activities for both adults and children. I had never attended anything like it before and saw an opportunity to do something both for the children and me.

As time passed the number of people signing up crept up and up and surpassed 100 by the time the event came around (a good mix of adults and children).

What I experienced during that weekend was unexpected and almost magical in a way. We arrived on the Friday night, had a lovely meal we didn’t have to cook, then went to the bar.

Over the course of the evening more people joined and initially came and sat on their own with their children. This wasn’t for long before someone came over and invited them to join the conversation. My table started as a two and grew over the course of the evening. Each new person bringing their story, if they were happy to share, was welcomed with open arms to a comfortable safe space with people who get it.

"What I experienced during that weekend was unexpected and almost magical in a way."

Saturday morning arrived and we were split into smaller groups of between 9 and 12. We then went on to do various challenging activities having more and more fun with each one passing. By lunchtime we had started to become fast friends (and so had the children).

Watching the children tackle the various challenges was awe inspiring. My children point blank refused to do some of the “scarier” activities, but by the end they had mostly conquered their fears, buoyed by the courage of their peers, and supported by the amazing on-site staff.

The second evening saw many of us join in an evening quiz, a mixture of playful and excitable children, some adults having a laugh and letting their hair down, and even a table for the cool kids (teenagers). Over the course of the evening we shared, we cried, we laughed and comforted each other with a friendly smile or gesture.

On Sunday after some more activities, we all piled into the car exhausted but lighter and happier for our shared experiences. The first thing my kids asked was “can we go back next year?”, followed by “when can I see my new friends again?”. If that isn’t the sign of a good weekend, I don’t know what is. It truly was a transformative experience.

Pete and his two boys