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Identity and Sense of Self in Widowhood

Learning to love and respect a new version of yourself

In March, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation hosted a virtual support workshop featuring Michele Neff Hernandez, who was recently named one of the Top 10 CNN Heroes of 2021. This workshop focused on how the death of a spouse or partner not only turns our world upside down, but it also re-shapes us as individuals. One of the most important elements of grief recovery is coming to know, appreciate, and respect our new self.

Watch the Workshop

» Download the Identity and Sense of Self in Widowhood Presentation «

Discussion/Journal Prompts

These discussion prompts were used in the breakout groups during the live workshop. You can use them to begin thinking about creating a life that works for your new reality after being widowed. They also work well as journal prompts if writing helps you process your thoughts and emotions.

1. An Old Habit

What is one thing I used to do that that I miss doing?

2. Secondary Losses

What secondary loss resulting from my partner’s death is coming up for me right now?
(A secondary loss is an additional loss that comes from the death of a loved one, such as financial hardship, loss of identity as part of a couple, loss of your co-parent, etc.)

3. Grieving Me

What do I miss the most about my old (pre-widowed) self?

4. Self-Care

How much time do I devote to taking care of myself and why?

5. Something New

What is a new role or quality that is now part of my life?


Attend a Virtual Support Group

As a reminder, NFFF offers additional virtual support on Zoom for all adult Fire Hero Family members on Tuesday and Wednesday. A Facilitated Support Group is held on Tuesday for those who are struggling with grief or life in general, or those who may not have a strong support system in place. Our Fire Hero Family Peer Support Group is an informal gathering to share stories, struggles, progress, and ideas.

The Workshop Impact

Confirmation that I will never be the ‘normal’ I knew before.

What Our Attendees Said
After the Workshops

Impact of the Identity and Sense of Self in Widowhood Workshop

I should be proud because I am moving forward, even if it’s only one foot in front of the other.

If you are struggling to welcome a new version of yourself, remember that healing is not a linear process.
Michele Neff Hernandez, Different After You: Rediscovering Yourself
and Healing after Grief and Trauma

About Michele Neff Hernandez

Michele Neff Hernandez

Michele is the author of Different After You: Rediscovering Yourself and Healing after Grief and Trauma*. It is available through booksellers everywhere.

Michele Neff Hernandez is the founder and CEO of Soaring Spirits International, an international widowed peer-support network which has served over four million widowed people since 2009. Since the death of her husband, Phillip, Michele has dedicated herself to providing resources, support, and community to widowed men and women around the world.

Michele is also the founder of the Soaring Spirits Resilience Center at Schreiner University, an awarded speaker, and a featured trainer for hospices and bereavement teams with a focus on resilience in grief. She was named a 2021 Top Ten CNN Hero, accepting her award from Wonder Woman and widow, Lynda Carter. Michele loves serving grieving communities and is honored to have been a part of thousands of people’s evolution from surviving to thriving.

*Your purchase through our Amazon Associates program will benefit the programs of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation to honor America’s fallen heroes, assist their families, and prevent firefighter deaths and injuries.