As the nation continues to reel from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, I reached out to Sharva Hampton Campbell, host of this weekend’s Managing Grief and Loss Summit and author of the U.G.L.Y Project, volume I and II to find out about the summit, happening Saturday from 3 to 4:30 p.m.

Sharva is employed as the Student Affairs Coordinator at the UIUC School of Social Work. She is also a serial author and entrepreneur who offers counseling and life coaching services, empowerment retreats, and book co-authoring opportunities.

Smile Politely: Why did you decide to host this Managing Grief and Loss Virtual Summit?

Sharva Hampton-Campbell: COVID-19 has impacted our lives in so many unimaginable ways. The severity of grief experienced by many ranges from the loss of autonomy to the death of a loved one.

I decided to host the summit to provide an opportunity for anyone who has experienced some form of loss to hear the stories of triumph from 10 women who have walked in similar shoes. We want to collectively validate and encourage everyone in their journey of healing.

Many are experiencing grief and loss. Everyone experiences grief differently, and it may look different from person to person. Therefore, our journey to wholeness will not look the same as someone else's. The grieving process has stages, but no timeline.

SP: Tell me a bit about the U.G.L.Y. Project? How does the second volume differ from the first volume?

Hampton-Campbell: The U.G.L.Y. Project was created to provide women an opportunity to tell their story of triumph and victory over life situations and circumstances that were harmful to their emotional well-being. The project is grounded in acknowledging our relationship with God and Him being the source of our healing.

Nine of us shared stories of infertility, abuse, rape, molestation, failed relationships, battles with negative self-images, and attempted suicide. We believe the rawness of our stories empowers and inspires women to begin their journey of healing and moving forward with strength and triumph

The first volume focused on giving women the courage to start the process of revealing their truths.

The second volume provides a glimpse into the lives of ten women during the darkest hours of their lives.  Our faith was tested, and spirits were broken, but through the power of prayer, we found our way through the difficult times.

SP: What will people experience by participating in this summit?

Hampton-Campbell: We want them to experience a sense of community and know they are not alone. Also, interwoven throughout our presentations will be the acknowledgment of our faith and the power of prayer and strength given by reading God's word.

SP: What do you hope to achieve with this summit?

Hampton-Campbell: I hope that our stories will inspire others to keep the faith and know that God has not forsaken them. He is the source of strength and endurance during their time of need.

For more information on the Managing Grief and Loss Summit, including how to register, check out the Facebook event page.