Weavings Grief Retreat

BJC Hospice Surrounds Mothers with Soothing Support to Grieve the Loss of Their Children

Mother's Day can be a deeply painful observation for those who mourn the passing of their children. Resulting emotions can cause gripping, enduring sorrow that lasts a lifetime. However, healing touches of empathy are coming this fall through a special event from people and professionals who want to help those moms observe their "forever motherhood." 

Children dying before their parents is one of the most devastating losses parents can experience. A BJC Hospice group understands how traumatic these tragedies are, so they offer a supportive event at which mothers can openly grieve their losses—all within the comfort of other mothers who previously navigated their own personal losses. 

Weavings is an annual weekend event open to any mother who has lost their son or daughter due to any cause after birth, not only those who were served by BJC Hospice. The event was launched in 2006.

Crying together is allowed—and encouraged!

"The retreat is offered at no cost to participants, due to generous individual and corporate donations from the communities we serve," says Andrea Tritinger, BJC Hospice grief support services supervisor.

The retreat is called Weavings because historically, weaving projects typically were done together in groups, intricately linking and connecting women, physically and emotionally.

Mothers at Weavings have some large group experiences, small group discussions, self-care and pampering time, a variety of outlets for expressing emotion as well as time to remember their children and honor their motherhood.

Sandy Dillon, BJC Hospice bereavement specialist, says Weavings especially provides:

  • A safe place for mothers to explore and publicly express emotions, share stories about their children and celebrate their motherhood.
  • A supportive community with other women who've experienced the death of a child.
  • A nurturing, nonjudgmental atmosphere in which everyone's accepted, no matter where they are in their grief journey.
  • An invitation to participate in a range of activities.
  • Support from bereavement professionals, volunteers and mothers.
  • Suggested coping mechanisms with difficult emotions and moments.

Shanthi Kumar, a local mother who attended the 2018 Weavings retreat, says being present and connecting with other mothers who suffer from similar feelings definitely is one of the retreat's benefits.

"It was my first and last support group. I went about four months after bidding farewell to our wonderful son Haran’s physical form. I met many wonderful mothers of different ages," she says. "We were divided into thoughtfully matched small groups, each with two great counselors to facilitate discussions. We cried a lot and all connected at a deeper level. Toward the end of the weekend, we felt like we were family, and we still keep in touch. We were very well cared for by the organizers. Everyone was exceptionally compassionate and had organized many relaxing activities."

Losing a child is a life-changing experience, Shanthi says.

"No one could understand what one goes through unless you've been there. At the retreat, you meet and spend almost 48 hours with many mothers who have lost their children to a variety of causes, from accidents, murder, suicide and illnesses. When you hear about the sorrow of your fellow human beings, you forget about yours and your focus becomes how to help them heal. I think this is the best way for us to heal ourselves," she says. "When one loses their child, a curtain falls ... part of your soul goes with your child, but yet a new form evolves. This new form fears nothing, is more courageous and compassionate."

This year's Weavings retreat will be held Oct. 18–20 at the Pallottine Renewal Center in Florissant, Missouri. For details, email griefsupport@bjc.org or call 314.953.1676.

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