Home is where you hang your heart, not only your hat. When Phil died, the four walls of my home became both a refuge and a prison. I hated going out; I hated staying in. 

The outside world was too bright. I felt blinded by other people’s lightness, innocent happiness, and especially by their apparent disregard for the fact that the world had stopped. 

I kept forgetting that their world didn’t necessarily halt because mine did. I remember very clearly that when I was in public I felt see through, as if there was no substance to me. 

But when I was home the familiarity was excruciating. Everywhere I looked there was some misleading evidence that Phil would be right back. Shoe in the corner, lunchbox on top of the fridge, toothbrush in the holder…all signs that the owner of these items had just stepped out. Loneliness seeped from my pores and left a miserable residue on every surface. Home wasn’t home. There is a line from a Mercy Me song (Homesick) that best described this feeling for me: “If home’s where my heart is, then I’m out of place.”
Oh, how I ached to be home. 

Then I connected with other widowed people. They became my community and then slowly became a safe, homey place that helped me heal. My widowed friends held bits of my heart for me while I picked up the pieces that were scattered by the winds of grief. Each time I found another sliver, I could just hand it to the people who would eventually help me work out how those fractured shards could once again take the shape of something beautiful. The beauty is, that we did this for each other, time and time again. 

This is what I mean by home. You are home to me, and we are home to each other, and as you heal, grow, and make your way through this whole new crazy widowed world…I hope you will always remember that one home is only a connection away.

About Author

Michele Neff Hernandez

Michele Neff Hernandez

Michele Neff Hernandez is a nonprofit leader, compelling speaker and committed advocate for widowed people around the world. She is the founder and Executive Director of Soaring Spirits International, a non-profit organization providing research-based programs and a community of peers for anyone who has experienced the death of a spouse or partner. Since Michele founded Soaring Spirits in 2008, Soaring Spirits has served over four million widowed people and continues to increase their reach through the development and management of innovative grief support programs.

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