Different After YouBy: Michele Neff Hernandez


Rediscovering Yourself and Healing after Grief and Trauma

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“Michele Neff Hernandez’s book, Different after You , achieves something that previously seemed impossible: making grief feel less lonely. When I lost my partner Fernando Bengoechea in the 2004 tsunami, and talked about him on The Oprah Winfrey Show , many viewers, especially young adults, shared that it was the first time that they had witnessed an expression of LGBTQ grief — and, too, LGBTQ love — in the mass media. After speaking at Camp Widow in early 2020, and now reading Michele’s book, I’m reminded of how healing and impactful sharing our pain and experiences can be. Different after You addresses almost every question about the grieving process and the individual journey of inhabiting a changed life.”
— Nate Berkus, interior designer and author of The Things That Matter
“Different after You serves as a compass for widowed people and those who have experienced any kind of trauma, guiding us on a journey to our true selves. By sharing her personal and professional experiences of grief and trauma, Michele Neff Hernandez has mapped our circuitous path toward self-acceptance and integration. This book is a must-read for all widowed people and anyone whose life has been changed by trauma.”
— Amy Yasbeck, actress and founder of the John Ritter Foundation for Aortic Health
“Michele Neff Hernandez is a beacon of light and hope. A generous and soulful visionary, she consistently brings messages of inspiration and resilience. Her commitment to transforming the lives of widowed people is a gift to the world.”
— Tembi Locke, New York Times bestselling author of From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home
“Loss changes us in profound and unexpected ways, and we struggle with the stranger within. But thanks to Michele Neff Hernandez and her practical and inspiring book, there’s hope. Sharing her own painful loss, Michele comforts and validates our pain as she gently points us through the rubble of grief toward rebuilding a life that better fits our new selves — a life that is different but no less meaningful and satisfying. Different after You is a book to read and reread and would make a thoughtful and helpful gift for anyone going through the pain of loss.”
— Margaret Brownley, New York Times bestselling author of Grieving God’s Way
“I met Michele Neff Hernandez shortly after the death of my wife in 2008. There’s no one more connected to, nor anyone who’s forged more connections in, the vast and diverse widowed community than Michele. Her commitment to linking people through shared experiences is steadfast, and she’s made it her life’s mission to build an inclusive network for all widowed people. Sometimes awful things happen and you do your best to make the most of the mess the world has dropped in your lap. Michele has done just that, and helped millions of other widowed people do the exact same thing. Over the years Michele’s dream has blossomed in ways that have surprised everyone but her.”
— Matt Logelin, New York Times bestselling author of Two Kisses for Maddy
“Michele Neff Hernandez is an inspiration. She has a true gift for connecting people, giving them hope and camaraderie at a time of profound loss and loneliness. I have been blessed to witness Michele helping hundreds if not thousands of recently widowed people navigate the traumatic landscape of loss with her profound compassion, love, and kindness, giving so many a safe space to heal and connect.”
— Marian Fontana, author of A Widow’s Walk
“Michele not only is committed to providing hope and healing to millions of grievers but has the business acumen and strategic mind to ensure the success of her work for decades to come. Her book, Different after You , will fit right into the beautiful, strong world she has created this past decade and take it to the next level.”
— Christina Rasmussen, author of Where Did You Go? and Second Firsts
“For more than a decade, Michele Neff Hernandez has been a leader in the widowed community. Her tireless work has helped shape countless lives and impact them for the better.”
— Michelle Steinke-Baumgard, author of Healthy Healing and cofounder of Live the List Nonprofit
“Michele Neff Hernandez took the worst tragedy of her life and, instead of letting it destroy her, turned her pain outward as a light, as a beacon to other widowed people wandering in the same fog. Soaring Spirits has saved lives, including mine, by providing resources and a community that doesn’t judge, talk down, or condescend to you. It does not try to fix you or make you the same as you were before your loss, but rather respects and considers the seismic shift in your life and gives you tools to help rebuild.”
— Leslie Gray Streeter, author of Black Widow
“Michele Neff Hernandez has an uncanny ability to inspire in people a practical, loving, and compassionate belief in themselves and their own ability to heal through the power of community, an ethos she lives by every day. Michele is a natural bringer-together of people and has become a superhero to thousands of grieving people as she lovingly guides them through the stages of grief, walking alongside them and holding their hand every step of the way.”
— Abigail Carter, author of The Alchemy of Loss and Remember the Moon
“Experiencing the loss of a loved one can be profound, and heartbreaking, and devastating. Michele Neff Hernandez has healed and grown through her own grief to guide so many others from pain to peace, from trauma to triumph.”
— Lissa Coffey, author of Closure and the Law of Relationship
“For more than a decade, global visionary Michele Neff Hernandez has gracefully and unfailingly stood as brightly as the sun, shining brilliant rays of light onto millions of widowed people living in the dark shadows of grief and trauma. With a profound personal knowing, a passion to create positive change, and a dynamic drive to lead compassionately, Michele founded Soaring Spirits International, the premier peer-based widowed support organization in the world. I am eternally grateful to Michele Neff Hernandez for her ability to help others restore, renew, and rebuild their lives.”
— Susan Hannifin-MacNab, MSW, PPSC, author of A to Z Healing Toolbox
“Michele Neff Hernandez has the uncanny ability to talk directly to your heart about what it means to experience loss. What makes her especially unique is her unrivaled ability to offer hope and support to those grieving. Spend time in Michele’s presence, and you will be changed forever.”
— Nancy Saltzman, PhD, author of Radical Survivor
“I will never forget the relief I felt in meeting Michele Neff Hernandez just six months into my grief journey. She accepts everyone where they are and welcomes them into her community. Her amazing ability to connect with people, whoever they are and whatever their background, made me feel at home. It has been a blessing and an inspiration to know and learn from her.”
— Harold S. Buchanan, chairman of Helping Other People Evolve, Inc., and coauthor of Seven Sisters and a Brother
“Michele Neff Hernandez is an innovator. Through her work founding Soaring Spirits International, Michele has repaired many wings and inspired thousands of widowed people to know, love, and celebrate the people they are today.”
— Dr. Gloria Horsley and Dr. Heidi Horsley, authors of Open to Hope and founders of Open to Hope
“Born with the longest arms, Michele Neff Hernandez can wrap them around thousands of people at once through her words of comfort, care, and concern. She has lifted thousands of people from great pain to personal empowerment through her insightful programs and her gentle touch of everyday thoughts, shared through her presentations. In true honesty, she is a ‘widow whisperer,’ one who provides people with tools to learn, live, and love themselves in order to be the best versions of themselves.”
— Rachel Kodanaz, bestselling author of Living with Loss, One Day at a Time and Finding Peace, One Piece at a Time
“In her writing, in her organizing, in her speaking, and in her companionship, Michele Neff Hernandez changes lives. What a gift for those of us who have lost our beloved partners.”
— David Hallman, author of August Farewell
“Michele Neff Hernandez did not let her own story of loss and grief defeat her. Instead, she turned it around to help others. I have never seen anyone so tireless in her mission. She is visionary. She is unstoppable. I have profound admiration and respect for this woman who lives and breathes to help widowed people heal.”
— Amy Florian, author and founder of Corgenius
“Michele Neff Hernandez excels at connecting with her audience while gently challenging them to stretch out of their comfort zone. She believes fundamentally in honoring loss and in helping people find meaning and joy in the wake of it. She challenges us to expand our view, plant seeds that grow over time, and allow ourselves to find our own insight and healing.”
— Jenny Woodall, grief specialist, National Fallen Firefighters Foundation
“Michele Neff Hernandez has an incredible gift of truly connecting, on a heart and soul level, with the thousands of widows she serves through Soaring Spirits International. Her hard-earned wisdom and empathy are a comfort to anyone who is dealing with the excruciating pain after losing a life partner. She is an inspiring hero, and through her example of living her best life after loss, she shows that it is possible to rise and thrive in widowhood.”
— Tanya Villanueva Tepper, 9/11 widow featured in the Peabody Award–winning film Rebirth
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