As my husband and I sat in anticipation of boarding Carnival Victory Cruise Ship, I looked around and felt as if this was an oxymoron. A Bereavement Cruise on Carnival Cruise Line? We were unsure what to expect and how we could blend the two together.
The loss of two children had left us both in a fog; we were searching for our new normal, whatever that is. It was as if we were living in two worlds, one with our children and now the world without them. I must admit I was somewhat apprehensive about this cruise, not knowing what to expect. In the long run, was it everything We expected it to be? Yes, and much more! We met the most wonderful, genuine people, all sharing the same hurt from losing a loved one; a child, a mom, a husband, a sibling, parent and so on. Grief is not measured by your loss; but by your love. Our favorite take away from this event, you ask, was ALL OF IT! Each presenter shared from the heart and with a wealth of knowledge, all from their own personal experiences of grief. The workshops, the exercises, the sharing, the laughing, the crying, the candlelight memory walk, the "message in a bottle," were all more than amazing! The event ended outside, on the top level, with a full moon dancing across the water and Mitch Carmondy signing (Sign Language) to LeAnn Womack's song "I Hope You Dance". There was not a dry eye to be found. We left with the reality that it's not over when it's over, our loved ones live on within our hearts for all eternity. It's up to us to keep their legacy alive.
John and I have and will continue to recommend this event to anyone struggling with the loss of a loved one. We went away knowing that we don't have to do this alone, there are many out there that feel the same loss and share the weight of grief with you and yes, you can experience grief and joy together.
Thank you to all the presenters and a special thank you to Linda Findlay for the vision and all the endless hours that went into planning this event. Also, thank you Bob Findlay for your endless support!
— Cindy & John Carrillo
When I first saw information on a Bereavement Cruise I thought it a bit odd!! I think of cruises as sun in the fun times and somehow the two didn't seem to fit. The more I thought about it I felt it was something I wanted to do. I thought what a great place to be to reflect on the loss of our two beautiful children than on the peaceful sea. I decided to go alone without husband, children or friends. I felt I needed some alone time just for me! I was hesitant to go alone on a first time Bereavement cruise with a bunch of strangers but I couldn't have been more wrong!! You see, we all had a very common bond among us, the loss of a significant loved one, child, grandchild, spouse, parent. That special bond made me feel as though I had known these people before.
Linda and Bob had the entire trip so organized! When I flew into Orlando airport I had been given a number by Linda to call for transport to our hotel for the night before our cruise. The van picked me up and took me there, reservations had been made. We had a meeting that evening of the "cruisers" and so we got to know each other a little at that time and put faces to names. We were given schedule for next day and that went so smoothly. Van picked us up and took us to pier to our ship.
We had our evening meals together and got to know each other better at each meal. It didn't take long before we found ourselves laughing and enjoying our time together. The seminars we attended were all very good and we talked about a variety of issues. We had a craft time and made special crafts to take home, had special photos taken with special messages, essential oils . The presenters, too, had suffered great loss so were all very understanding.
A very special time was our walk to remember our loved ones on the top deck of the ship, after dark. We then wrote notes to our loved ones, put them in an empty wine bottle, and threw the bottle overboard (when no one was looking as it is against the ship rules to throw something overboard!!). I hope someday the bottle is found. We also had very special music by Alan and signing by Mitch.
We did much as a group but also had lots of time to ourselves if wanted. I spent a lot of time on my balcony reflecting on my two children, Corey and Missy, and how much love and joy they brought into our lives and how much I missed them every day. But I also felt such a sense of peace out on the ocean and felt their presence with me. One day while sitting on my balcony I noted a cloud formation of a large heart! Yes, Corey and Missy were definitely with me out there!
When our group parted ways after our short cruise, we were friends, bonded together by the love we had for our loved ones gone to soon. We all agreed the next cruise should be longer so happy to see it is. Many of us are now connected by facebook and continue to support each other that way.
I came home from the cruise with a sense of peace and happiness. I am so glad I decided to go. Thanks so much to Linda and Bob for arranging this, Mitch and Alan, always so compassionate, talented, and fun to be around. And thanks to all the others that made this first Bereavement Cruise a memorable one!!
— Mary Feigh
"I participated in the first cruise as a workshop presenter, and was viewing the trip as a business trip. I actively worked in the grief arena for several years and was expecting what anyone might expect, that the trip would be healing (it was) and somewhat somber (it seldom was). I found myself engaging in conversations with other grief workers and other grievers and making some solid friendships that have lasted. We laughed, we shared, we explored, and occassionally, we cried. Mostly I remember a great deal of laughter with other grievers who "got" each other. Each time I reflect on the cruise, I realize I am smiling. Linda Findlay and Bob put together an excellent adventure, and I'm so glad I was part of it."
— Mary H.