Julie Hamilton always knew she wanted to find a “different sort of happiness” after losing her husband, Patrick, to cancer.
She sought counselling and support but felt like there was something missing.
So, about a year after Patrick passed, she created Hope Floats – an organisation to bring widows together to help them move forward after their tragic loss.
“Losing your spouse is like losing part of your soul,” Julie says.
“It’s losing your best friend, it’s losing your soul mate and losing your partner in life and what your future was going to be.
“I just thought there is a real need for people who have lost their partner to be able to connect in a social setting, so that’s why I decided to start up Hope Floats.
“Once we sit down and talk, there’s that real common thread that we completely understand each other – we’ve gone through exactly what that other person has gone through and we understand how they are feeling.”
The group meets up every month for morning tea, lunch or dinner.
It’s a safe space where individuals can socialise and connect through their common understanding of grief and loss.
Julie says one of the hardest things to do after losing a spouse is to put yourself back into social settings because your partner was “usually sitting right next you”.
She adds that losing your spouse has different consequences to losing another loved one.
“I never thought that I would get over it, but you don’t get over it you just have to move forward,” she says.
“It’s not moving on; it’s just moving forward.”
About 30 people attend each group meeting, with members ranging from their 30s all the way up to their 80s.
They invite anyone to join and share their special connection.
Julie asks that you get in contact before you attend an event so she can check in with you and chat about your story.
She wants to make sure that everyone feels welcome and that you will be comfortable in their social space.
Visit Hope Floats Newcastle Facebook page if you would like more information or want to join the group.