Bereaved Parent Weekend – connection and mutual understanding

A long table is set with photos and mementos of children. There are candles lit in their memory.

Grief and loss is an ongoing and complex experience, with no timeline or rule book to follow. Weekends like the Bereaved Parent Weekend, offer a safe and welcoming environment for bereaved parents to share memories of their children, feel joy and express sadness with others who understand and can validate their emotions. 

A group of adults are walking outdoors.Surrounded by nature and located in the secluded Hepburn Springs, the weekend was described by many as an emotional, heart-warming and confronting experience. One parent shared, 

“We were a little apprehensive, unsure of what to expect, worried about possibly breaking down in front of others but we were blown away with how supportive and healing the weekend was. It felt like we were able to spend a weekend with our child, to talk freely about them, our experiences, their memory, our grief, the loneliness and to express our love for our child in a safe and supportive way.

At the close of the weekend, we left feeling like we were able to breathe a little lighter again, like we’d been supported to enable us to let out a little of what we hold so deeply within.” 

A consensus shared by many, apprehension of the weekend, was quickly replaced with mutual understanding and love. Everyone undertook a range of activities which explored or provoked different thoughts, memories or emotions. Parents who attended the weekend shared, 

“With each activity being quite different, each individual was able to take away something different from each session. The different activities began different topics of conversation which bought the group closer together during those discussions as we expressed our deepest vulnerabilities in a safe and nurturing way. It was so well structured.” 

A bowl of grains holds taper candles, lit in memory of children who have died. There is a vase of native flowers in the background.“An invaluable experience to meet other parents who understand your journey, speak your language, and offers a true sacred space of belonging. There are opportunities to go at your own pace, hold genuine conversations with new friends and explore where you are in your own unique grieving process.” 

“The weekend definitely helped us. By listening to others and their experiences, you learn of different coping strategies. After 1 year society says you should move on, but it’s okay to still be grieving your child five years, ten years or forever. There are no right or wrong answers for your grief.”

“You are in a safe place surrounded by a calm and relaxing environment. You are in a group of people who are also on the same journey of dealing with the grief of losing a child. You feel more at ease to discuss your struggles as everyone in the group may be at different stages of grief, but truly understand you.

A lot of people don’t have that support. People often don’t what to speak your child’s name anymore and they avoid the topic, or expect you to move on with life. The group want to know about your child and your journey.” 

When reflecting on advice they would offer to other bereaved parents considering a future Bereaved Parent Weekend, one couple shared,  

“Some bereaved parents may feel the weekend may be confronting or too emotionally draining for them. I would say to them, it may be somewhat confronting, and you may feel emotionally vulnerable, but you will be in a space where you will be looked after and cared for, and with people who have walked a similar journey. At the end of the weekend, you may feel that you were able to smile and laugh while still attending to your sadness and loss. Not many spaces allow us to do that.”