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Overcoming grief


Overcoming grief

New farmstay to provide a retreat for widows. WORDS: Caitlin Zerafa.

From her property at Coolabine, Suzanne Gomes is working through her own grief to offer a space for others impacted by widowhood.

After losing Robert, her husband of 20 years, to leukaemia in 2019, Ms Gomes was left with a profound series of emotions and was unsure where to turn. So, she decided the best way for her to process her grief was to put pen to paper. What resulted was her book, Wife to Widow.

Now five years since her husband’s death, Ms Gomes is preparing to fulfil a dream they shared when they first
bought their 14-hectare property, not far from Kenilworth. Originally, the couple wanted to create a farmstay, or a place for other families impacted by leukaemia.

Since Robert’s death, Ms Gomes has been hard at work making this dream a reality, with Coolabine Retreat set to open later this year. She has also decided to host her first Beyond the Widow retreat in August – something she hopes will further help people on their journey after the loss of a spouse.

“When Covid hit, I was living by myself at the property and my grief took a couple of notches up,” Ms Gomes says.

“What got me through most days was when I started to write the book.

“It was when I went to the publishing company, they said I should do more than just the book. That’s when in my head I thought about doing retreats.”

Ms Gomes says she struggled to find a group or space that was tailored solely for widows, in the time after Robert’s passing.

“When I was looking for a group or somewhere to go, there was lots around healing and growth and mindfulness but I couldn’t find anything that was specifically put in place just for widows. I thought maybe this was my next step.”

As a corporate executive for 25 years, Ms Gomes sort out the tools to help herself with her grief, in the hope she could then share those with others via the retreat.

“Any type of grief is a very lonely place,” she says. “(I want to) offer a safe place that is very nurturing and give them a bunch of tools and hopefully a broader community that they can leverage off to continue through their grief. Grief doesn’t end. There are still tears and pain, but I can show that you can live side by side with grief.”


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