Grief Does Not Define You


Cassidy Wendell is a wellness writer, online educator, and community builder for people all over the world. Like many, she found her calling in a very roundabout way after losing her dad to a serious stroke in 2013. As a way to express her stress and emotions, she started a blog and soon found an exciting and meaningful career path in the digital space. I “met” Cass through Instagram a couple years ago.  Her fresh perspective and positive approach to health and wellness pictured in her tiny squares captured my attention.  When I found out that she lived in Bozeman, where I was planning to hold Dare to Detour, I knew I had to find a way to get her on my team.  I am so happy to have Cass involved again this year in an even greater capacity. Cass will be with you every step of the way during your time in Montana to make sure everything flows as it should.  The two of us will be meeting this year’s retreat guests at the Bozeman International Airport on September 13th, and are looking forward to welcoming all the Daring Darlings to Big Sky Country!

Sheryl Ott and Cass Wendell Dare To Detour

“Grief does not define you. It reveals you.”


Sometimes I have to remind myself of these very words.

This coming December, my dad will have been gone exactly five years. That’s five years without my mentor, my rock, and my shoulder to lean on. Five years without a father, a husband, a grandpa, and five years without a friend.

One thing I can say though is that these past five years have opened up my eyes and my ears to things much deeper than day-to-day life...

I look at people differently, I view myself more compassionately, and I listen more while analyzing less. Most importantly, I cherish the relationships I’ve created, whether good or bad, as each and every one has taught me something meaningful about life.

For those of you who don’t know much about me or who I am, here’s a quick backstory...

My dad passed away from a serious stroke when I was 22 years old. It was his second stroke in 3 years, but this one was different. This one put him in the ICU for nearly three months, where he took one step forward while taking two steps back. This stroke stemmed from high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and high blood sugar that he developed in the last few years of his life.

All in all, my dad was always good at taking care of everyone else, and really bad at taking care of himself. It finally caught up with him in October of 2013.

Losing my dad showed me how important your own health and wellness is, and how poor health can directly impact those closest to you. If you don’t have your health, you literally have nothing.

So here I am, five years later, living in Bozeman, Montana, as a wellness blogger, educator, community builder, and whatever else I decide to call myself, helping everyday people prevent a problem, rather than react to one.

It’s been a weird and rocky road, but I’m slowly figuring out the life I was meant to live with the grit and determination of my dad in my back pocket.

I know there are a lot of you out there struggling with grief so I wanted to share what has helped me in dealing with loss. Whether it’s a family loss, a divorce, a broken friendship, or a missed opportunity, I want to let you know that you’re not alone.



Mindfulness can do amazing things. For example, it can help you eat better by knowing what foods affect things such as your energy, mood, and digestion.

The same goes for emotions. By knowing what situations, the types of conversations, or even the relationships you have that trigger negative thoughts, you’ll know what to avoid.

Mindfulness can completely change your life, but remember that it doesn’t happen overnight. It can be practiced on a daily basis in ways such as meditating right before bed, sitting down for your meals away from the TV, or taking 10 minutes to write down everything (and I mean everything) you can see, hear, smell, feel, and taste.

A little practice here and there will help you build up your mindfulness for every day living.



If you would have told me a couple of years ago that I would be writing a post about my father’s death for thousands of eyes to read, I would have called you crazy. It took me several years to feel ready to share my story…and that’s completely okay.

Grieving takes time, and so does healing. You can’t force yourself to get back to where you wish you were because emotions take time. Don't fight them. Embrace them.



Constantly thinking about the hard things in life is both emotionally and physically exhausting. 

We all need that mental break from this thing called “life”, and what better way than taking a weekend for yourself and adventuring into the Montana wilderness for the Dare to Detour Retreat.

Dare provides you with a weekend of being in nature, creative practice, nourishing food, valuable workshops, and a community that supports you.

It’s a perfect opportunity to clear your mind and focus on the emotions that aren’t draining your energy, but rather filling it. What are you waiting for?



Give a family member or a longtime friend a call or maybe ask your brand new coworker out for coffee. Building up new and growing old relationships can release those feel-good endorphins.

Human interaction is a powerful thing. Hold your lover a little tighter, catch up with your closest sibling, or maybe just smile at a stranger. Connect with others and you won’t feel so alone.



There is a time and a place to grieve, and you most definitely should. What it shouldn’t do is hold you back from living out your life to its full potential.

Keep working towards something in the foreseeable future. Set goals for yourself professionally, physically, and emotionally. Whatever it is that you’re working towards, don’t stop working.

Five years later, and I still work on my emotions each and every day. Some weeks are bad, some weeks are better, but I know my grief does not define me. It shows me I’m human, and it shows me what a huge, positive impact my dad had on my life. I wouldn’t change that for the world.

xo, Cass

Sign-up for Dare to Detour here and start defining your own life.


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September 18 - 22, 2019