Superhost spotlight: filling a home with life after loss


Superhost Marianne suddenly found herself alone in the craftsman she and her late husband renovated together. To pick herself up, she launched her own business, opening her California home to guests from across the world. In her own words, she shares how hosting gave her life new meaning and what it means to be a female entrepreneur:


There was something beneficial about having life, having humans coming back into the house.


When I lost Mike, there was such a huge sense of loss, emptiness, a void. He had gone into surgery in May of 2017 for what was supposed to be a standard procedure, but there were complications and he didn’t make it. Four days before this, we had just celebrated 26 years together.


My daughter had moved home to stay with me. Almost a year later, she moved away and all of a sudden, I found myself alone in the house.


I don’t remember a specific incident or reason why I started hosting. It just kept showing up in my awareness. And then I took a trip in September of 2017 to see friends in Oregon, and I stayed in an Airbnb there. The host was a lovely fellow, and I explained what had happened. It started to dawn on me that being a host could be a possibility for me.


With my husband’s death, his pension ended and that was a big loss of income. I work for myself as a teacher, writer, and landscaper. I just wasn’t in a place where I could focus.


In my imagination, Airbnb was a source of easy-peasy cash flow. But it is work. And definitely being a single woman, I did have concerns about safety. I bought locks for the guest rooms and my room, but I think I’ve only locked my door once when there was a fellow checking in very late at night. A friend of mine who is also a host suggested I write the description of my home to attract the people I want here, and so far it seems to have worked. Maybe it’s naive, but I have a certain trust that for the most part, people are good.


Meet Marianne.png


Hosting became a way to be a little less of a hermit. It became a reason why I had to keep the house clean, a reason why I put on a brave face. You have to pick yourself up a little bit. Those were all good things.  


I remember Mike with each person who comes in. It’s both saddening and empowering.


He loved working on this house. He was a carpenter. When we bought the house in 1995, it was trashed, a fixer-upper, and he made it such a beautiful place to live. In some ways, I get to experience his spirit, his energy when people come into the house, notice the woodwork, and say, “Oh, wow.”


I feel so proud. I feel it for both of us. How lovely it is that I can share that.


In the beginning, I would tell guests I had just lost my husband. Then bit by bit, it was no longer the first thing I shared.


I’ve been incredibly blessed with the guests I’ve had. Since I live in Santa Monica, they wanted to go to the beach, to the pier, and to Venice, so I didn’t really see them. I still needed lots of space and lots of quiet, so it was perfect.


Occasionally, we would chat over a cup of coffee or sit out on the porch swing with a glass of wine and the ocean breeze. Some of the guests were just lovely people to talk to. It was a reminder that life goes on, as cliche as it sounds.


Meet Marianne 2.png


One guest was a young woman. I hadn’t mentioned that Mike had died, but maybe she noticed his pictures around the house. She told me that she had lost her boyfriend a few months earlier in an accident. So I found myself in this incredible place of being able to open up not just the house, but a space for her to talk about her loss with someone who understood. And for me, she was someone I could talk about Mike with. There was common ground, an incredible synchronicity. We’ve texted a few times. She may or may not come back, but for a little while we touched each others lives.


As hosts, we share space, but sometimes it’s a place where we share so much more.


In opening up my home, I was able to give something even when I felt so depleted.


Now I have my own business. And there is so much to be said about being your own boss and having complete say over how your life evolves. There’s a real sense of power a woman feels when she’s running her own business.


It may sound a little woo-woo to people, but there’s something so sacred about welcoming a stranger. As hosts, we serve as guides to weary travelers. And when we are aching, hurt, and lonely, that interaction and connection provides a little bit of healing.


Photos courtesy of Marianne

Labels (1)
80 Replies
Clara in
Florida, United States
Level 10

@Airbnb  this is a touching spotlight of Marianne - I am so glad she is doing so well and she is remarkable indeed. She is so much more trusting than I am able to be. We each have to find healing in the best ways possible and it is wonderful that she can do it with being a host. I guess it was important to keep her private because we don't have a link to chat with her or see her listing. 

I suppose that's why the others haven't commented on this spotlight.

Many blessings Marianne,

happy hosting, Clara

Level 1

Pretty neat

Marlena in
California, United States
Level 2

Thank you for sharing your story.  It resonated in so many ways.  And similarly,  I have had such positive experiences with guests,  that at times,  it has been therapeutic.  May your life continue to bloom. 

Kind Wishes, 


Level 2

Dearest Marianne, 🌸🌿🙏🏻✨ I so loved reading your story, what you had lost with the sad passing of your beloved ~ but what you describe here is beautiful in the way that your life now has gained such pride, beauty & yes it is very therapeutic to be busy & pamper guests to lovely exciting memorable stays in your home 🏡 

i myself have a special place which I am hosting again (ran as bed & breakfast through Airbnb when first bought after renovating this gorgeous cottage) SHABBY BEACH COTTAGE ~ Vintage charm on the Coast, in Victoria (our Famous stunning Great Ocean Road, SURFCOAST 🏖 🇦🇺 AUSTRALIA, Victoria ...I invisaged doing something like this for many many years, thought it was just a dream I’d always wish I could do) but...I made it happen 4 years ago, passionate about collecting pretty, vintage, second~hand, op shop finds & treasures...always adored Rachel Ashwell’s gorgeous shabby chic style...passionate with anything vintage, I also ran an interior decorating shop (Biggie Best) 18 years ago, so...have always loved colour, style, & helped friends & family do up their homes, fell in love with my weatherboard 1930’s cottage by the coast, renovated & became exactly how I had pictured in my mind...since then I hosted for 6 months...travelling back & forward from 2 hours away from the beach where I lived, prepared & attended to all the little details, including champagne & chocs on arrival for my guests, full cooked breaky for next morning & lots of little extras....loved it, but got rather tired making & unmaking 6 beds needed the income plus a bit of a break, then rented out permanently to rental tenants almost 3 years, who only moved out before Christmas.... so, back to the beach, my happy place & my passionate dream of sharing it all with guests & people who appreciate the charm & character of what I’ve created!  My darling dog Tiffani & I spent all of January this year here & she frolicked in the surf as I walked in the sand... pondering & thinking of what lies ahead with all this.  I now have it listed back in Airbnb, I have bookings, I want to create experiences, vintage styling events, garden & beach soirées here & maybe hire out & style etc. as well as treating my guests to a little pampering too (as I’m a Reiki Therapist & have set up my massage table in my little shed at SHABBY BEACH COTTAGE with my RASBERRY ROSE REIKI HEALING, & incorporating my RASBERRY ROSE COLLECTIONS tea~parties, beach picnics etc...with my pretty china sets, silverware, glam chandeliers (at the beach! ✨) hope it’s all going to take off ... so I can make an income doing what I love 💕 & sharing the love & light 🙏🏻🌈✨🌸🌿🦋xx so good for the soul, rewarding too in so many ways...connecting with like minded souls is as I mentioned & you know how it’s helped you too to heal, love & find happiness & fulfilment by doing what we love....take care Marianne, who knows ~ maybe you’d like to travel to our beautiful country one day, & stay in your own little home away from home @  Mine & maybe I @ is beautiful, precious & short! Blessings to you, love Kassy xo

Katrin in
Cape Town, South Africa
Level 2

What a wonderful story... it would be lovely to have a link to the places of the people you feature .... i couldnt help myself wanting to see what Marianne's place would look like :)

Louise in
Ditcheat, United Kingdom
Level 1

What an uplifting story; thanks for sharing. 

Lou x

Marilyn in
Appleby-in-Westmorland, United Kingdom
Level 2

Thank you Marianne for sharing such an uplifting story.

Bless you, be happy.

Marilyn x

Helen in
Chrishall, United Kingdom
Level 1

What a great story.  I started air bnb to help pay for my son's rent when he went to study in USA. Money in, money straight over to him!  My other two children left home the same year and it was hard.

But in a very short space of time I was filling my home with lovely, interesting people from all over the world; many needed help of one sort or another.  All the energy I had put into my three children went into helping my guests.

I have loved hosting and like Marianne believe that most people are inherently good. In 5yrs of hosting I have never had a problem.

I just hope Air BnB doesn't lose its original raison detre. Last night I went to book a room in San Francisco where it all started with Brian selling an air bed for $10 a night. I couldn't find a room for less than about $80 last night 😔

Yossi in
London, United Kingdom
Level 2

Lovely story Marianne & well done for picking yourself up and doing something to help you keep going. Yossi 

Aj in
New South Wales, Australia
Level 3



Love your story and your quotes. 


As hosts, we share space, but sometimes it’s a place where we share so much more.


My last guest had had an accident and ended up in hospital. I have been tranporting his partner from my Airbnb to the next, as another guest was checking in, plus the hospital to see his partner. 


We are friends for life now. 


Love Airbnb and the opportunities it has provided me and the people I have met from around the world, both hosting and travelling. 


Cheers Allan 😀

Bernadette in
High Wycombe, United Kingdom
Level 3

What a lovely story about your hosting experience.  Sometimes the tragedies in our lives make us more understanding and empathetic towards others..  I really enjoy being a home host and derive great pleasure when guests arrive and seem delighted with the accommodation I offer.

your tale also resonates with me as my husband has had a number of health scares in recent years and I worry that I may find myself in your situation.  Well done you.

Eloisa in
Miami Beach, FL
Level 1

Thank you Marianne for sharing such an uplifiting story!

 It resonated with me  in so many ways too...and similarly,  I have had such positive experiences welcoming guests,  that at times,  it has been therapeutic and healing.  I have loved hosting and like Marianne believe that most people are inherently good. I may be naive, but they say that you attrack what you believe in, and in 4yrs of hosting I have never had a problem. I love Airbnb and the opportunities it has provided me and the people I have met from around the world, both hosting and travelling. 

I too hope AirBnB doesn't lose its original raison d'etre.


Thomas in
Accra, Ghana
Level 2

What a very touching story am so inspired

Jennifer in
Trinidad and Tobago
Level 2

What a beautifully touching story Marianne. My story mirrors yours somewhat. My spouse passed also leaving me with no income. I started hosting to supplement income as well and now its a pleasure to host people from around the world learning about other cultures. May you continue for find satisfaction in hosting Marianne

Pedro in
Azores, Portugal
Level 2

Great story of live, a exemple of courage on going alone on search of happiness.


Best regards


Pedro Mota

Level 2

Amazing story, glad you found your strength to go on by helping others and thereby in the process helping yourself.

Sepalika in
Level 2

Thank you very much for sharing your inspirational story of life. Some pass through our lives making an amazing change in the way we live. 




Sue & David in
Kareela, Australia
Level 2

Thank you Marianne, for sharing your positive and uplifting story. We were empty nesters with our four adult children all living far away six years ago when one suggested we create a space for Airbnb hosting.

We have, and still are enjoying the interest and great people we meet from all corners of the world,and its such a lovely space for family members to enjoy and be 'guests' when they come to visit.

Lare 2017 our younger son took his own life,and of course we were shattered. Picking up the pieces of our lives, hosting , helping others, is certainly helping us in getting our lives back together, though of course we do not mention our loss to guests.

I totally admire what you have done and your sharing Marianne   


Jen in
Hampstead, MD
Level 2

Thank you for sharing your story! What a lovely way to minister to others, by providing a bed and often an ear! Airbnb allows us to connect with others on such inherently personal levels. I’ve had  wonderful guests as well and no bad apples! Good luck to you and Godspeed in your healing!

Hylton in
Las Vegas, NV
Level 2

Thank you for sharing your inspiring story as well as your Love extended out to the guests that have stayed in your home it is inspired me to visit your stay in your home just to meet you while hearing your heart beat...while  meeting such an amazing evolved woman... that is becoming and an example to me and others in the most of loss , thanks for sharing with US Airbnb host♡♡♡♡

Hylton in
Las Vegas, NV
Level 2

I just noticed the errors in the voice text please accept my apology♡

Emily in
Cross, SC
Level 2

 Your experience is so encouraging.   I too loss my husband to a different death(drugs).  When he left, my dog died, My best friend died, and my job of 10 years closed their doors, My life began.  Two seconds after listing my home I got my first booking and knew this was God blessing to a broken road that will lead quests to me.

Christea in
Virginia Beach, VA
Level 1

Wow; how uplifting! I lost my spouse too and used insurance proceeds to build my first home for temporary housing. A colleague told me about Airbnb and I’ve been hooked every since. 

Ive met some wonderful people from all over the world and enjoy hosting. 

Since then I’ve added two more properties and I’m “hooked on hosting”! 


Liz in
Byron Bay, Australia
Level 2

Thank you for sharing your story, I am so glad you are doing well .Thank you and keep improving .hosting is giving many people hope and purpose .

Tsigie in
Springfield, VA
Level 2

Thank you for sharing your story Marianne! What a lovely way to minister to others, by providing a bed and often an ear! Airbnb allows us to connect with others on such inherently personal levels. I’ve had  wonderful guests as well!

Good luck to you and God bless you and your family!!!

Annette in
Westhope, United Kingdom
Level 2

What a beautiful story.

Life is a journey and we just have to move on and adapt. Thank you for sharing your experience. 

Annette x

Margy in
Cleveland, OH
Level 2

My story mirrors Marianne’s almost identically and it was really gratifying to read. My husband and I always talked about the idea of being Airbnb hosts but it didn’t happen until after he died suddenly of a heart attack last April and I decided to just go for.  I will say that I have had less opportunity to interact with my guests in Cleveland for whatever reason, it could be because they are in a separate building on my property or that the Southern California  climate might be conducive to casual conversations with the host. I have felt a little uncomfortable bringing my personal story up with most guests as  I don’t want to burden them with my own grief but every once in while it pops out (a good friend of mine joked that I should be careful because the reviews might include things like “lonely widow will trap you for conversation” which made me laugh as I hardly think of myself that way. Thanks for your willingness to share your story

Erik in
Brooklyn Center, MN
Level 2

Thank you for sharing!  

I'm a carpenter myself.

I started my Airbnb business back in June. I agree with you. Hosting can be very therapeutic.  I get so much joy from the people that come to visit. I would hope that my wife would follow your path when I'm gone.

Tara in
Orcutt, CA
Level 2

Airbnb hosting fills an empty space for many people- not only financially, but emotionally. My neighbors have seen me absolutely beaten  down and broke getting bad tenants (that I was lending a helping hand to) off my property. My neighbors would rather I  host  Airbnb and have also enjoyed meeting some of my guests 

Julia in
Eldoret, Kenya
Level 2

Thanks to her opening doors to Airbnb, it has changed her life to be lively and am so happy for her.

Susan in
Lytham Saint Annes, United Kingdom
Level 2

I vey much enjoyed reading your post.  I took early retirement to look after my husband who died almost 3 years ago and finding it difficult financially, Airbnb have helped me to earn a little cash to help me keep

my head above water and also I have met some nice people along the way.

Jason in
Gothenburg, Sweden
Level 2

Thanks for sharing Marianne. An inspiring story with so many touch points for us readers to resonate with... one or several. Stay strong. 

Sarah in
Henley-on-Thames, United Kingdom
Level 2

What a deeply moving story.

Funny how airbnb comes into some  peoples lives when they need it.

When I discovered airbnb, I was lonely and finacialy struggling.

In the two years that I've been hosting I've met so many lovely people and made several lasting friends as well as improving my finacial circumstances.

Marianne, thank you for sharing with us all and I wish you the very best of eveything for the future.

If you feel like a trip to Henley on Thames you'd be so welcome.


Level 2

Thanks for sharing Marianne, so many things I can relate to after loosing my husband 2 years ago. Inspiring story and like you said, something sacred about welcoming strangers. Good luck!

Level 2

Air BnB has given a lot of us opportunities to become Independent, a little more financially secure and to meet some lovely people from all walks of life. It gives you a focus when life is tough.

I believe in general too most people are trustworthy and good and haven't had any issues with guests.

Well done Marianne. You deserve to be happy.

Level 2

Thank you for your story. It takes courage to speak from your heart. It heals and helps someone like  me. I am yet to host but i was thinkingk of my safety. My children live away from home.

Thank you for story.

Virginia in
Valroufié, France
Level 2

Well done Marianne - inspiring and heartening.

Renee Shobha in
Kingman, AZ
Level 2

Love this woman,I can relate to being single, alone and what a blessing Airbnb is. 

Michelle in
Limavady, United Kingdom
Level 2

Hi Marianne, I am going through the same. I lost my husband , Charlie in 2016. The airbnb has helped bring me out of myself and it is challenging because I am always trying to think of how to maintain and improve it. And the people I have met are such lovely people. Well done .Your story resonates with me and it is very inspiring too. Thanks.

 Best wishes for the future, Michelle, Ballyleaghery, Limavady, Northern Ireland

Michael in
Massachusetts, United States
Level 2

God bless,Thank you.

Nina in
Brunswick, ME
Level 2

"...there’s something so sacred about welcoming a stranger. As hosts, we serve as guides to weary travelers. And when we are aching, hurt, and lonely, that interaction and connection provides a little bit of healing." EXACTLY! So wonderful that you state this in the conclusion of your moving and candid piece. I feel the same way, and the tradition of hospitality and welcoming not just family and friends but the stranger, is not only ancient and beautiful, but also what I believe is at the core of the AirBnB hosting expereince.


Sadly, with property managers handling multiple, inpersonal proerties and absent hosts who never meet their guests, I believe a key essence of the hospitality expereince is lost.  

Fancy in
Atlanta, GA
Level 2

You are wonderful to share your story Marianne. Human connectedness is so valuable.  You displayed that so eloquently in your story.  Thank you!

Carmen in
New York, NY
Level 2

I could almost identify with Marianne on so many levels. Thanks so much for sharing this story. Blessings!

Penny And Monty in
Sedona, AZ
Level 2

This is very helpful and we will use the recommended ideas!!! 

Gladys in
Nairobi, Kenya
Level 2

What a lovely and captivating story. May God continue to Bless you abundantly. 

Wendy in
Moreton-in-Marsh, United Kingdom
Level 2

Thank you for sharing your story.

It has reminded me of how much difference we can make to people when they visit our homes.

We can make a positive impression and be a good thing in the lives of others.

A great privilege! 

Cheryl in
Bogue, NC
Level 2

What a uplifting story ! Kiddos to you and your journey thru hosting and healing . I read this and thinking how my husband and I started the journey redoing a fixer up for not only to be our home but enjoying the airBAndB lifestyle and the great we meet along the way . Cheryl 

Beaufort ,NC

Melanie in
Celebration, FL
Level 2

This is a wonderful story!  I love the way Airbnb does much more than just provide an overnight guest service.  

Angela in
Jasper, GA
Level 2

A story that shares a part of your life & continues to encourage me in my blessed journey

Lisa in
Kennett Square, PA
Level 2

As a writer of a grief blog I wish you Courage always <3 

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