Couples come to Respite Retreat from all over the country, as well as from outside the U.S.—some who lost a child only a month prior to attending, couples whose loss was fifteen years prior, and everywhere in between. Our goal is to help couples take steps toward healing from wherever they are. We have a wide range of ages represented in the children who have died, from infants born still to young adults in their twenties or thirties, as well as a wide range of causes of death.
We share our stories together and pray for each other. Over the weekend, we talk about:
The weekend is not a conference or workshop. It’s not a group therapy session or a secular support group. It's a mixture of directed large-group conversations, enjoying meals together, and opening up God's Word together in search of help and hope that can only be found in Christ.
The total cost for Respite Retreat at the Beach is $950 per couple. This includes your 3 night stay at The Pearl and all of the sessions. It also includes coffee and dessert on Thursday evening, all meals on Friday and Saturday, as well as a light breakfast on Sunday.
First of all, you're awesome. So many couples who lose a child feel so alone as they go through their grief. You are demonstrating to your friends or family that they are not alone, and that has to mean a great deal to them. As much as you'd like to be able to fix this for them and take away the hurt, you've figured out that there is nothing you can do to fix it. But you want to do something that will really help them heal. Helping to make it possible for them to attend a Respite Retreat is a great way to truly do this. We hope they'll want to come. And, that they will come.
And that is an essential part of the equation—that they want to come, and that they are ready to come. Sometimes we're in a hurry to help people heal from this devastating loss, but they're not really ready for that. The reality of the loss is still settling in.
So, what should you do if you want to help a couple come to a Respite Retreat at the Beach?
We've learned a thing or two along the way of doing these retreats. One of the most important things we've learned is that it is good for every couple to have "some skin in the game."
Sometimes friends or a church want to do everything for the couple out of a desire to serve them during a time when doing the simplest things is challenging. But we think it is wise to require that the couple themselves:
1. request the application from us
2. fill out and return the application to us
3. pay at least $100 toward the $550 registration fee
We've found that when couples don't do at least these three things, maybe they don't really want to come or simply aren't ready yet. It might be better to wait until they feel the need for help toward healing enough to be willing to take these initial steps themselves. We've found that when others do these things for them, they are more likely to cancel at the last minute.
So we suggest that when you point your friends to the website. Let them know that if they want to come, they will need to request and return the application with $100 paid toward registration (you can tell them that we require that, because honestly, we do), and then, you will cover the remaining portion of the registration fee and any other costs you are willing to cover.
We hope your friends will come. We promise to love them well. Contact us if you have any further questions. an answer to this item.
Yes. We attended Respite Retreat Nashville in 2017 and have stayed in close touch with the Guthries since then. Having hosted over 40 Respite Retreats since 2009, they have worked with us to launch Respite Retreat at the Beach and continue as a resource to us.
Why don’t you allow those who are not married to come to Respite Retreat?
We feel called to a specific mission in this ministry—to help husbands and wives figure out how they are going to get through their grief together. Husbands and wives tend to grieve very differently, and the loss of a child puts a unique kind of pressure on a marriage. So in some ways, this is more of a marriage retreat specifically for couples who have faced a death of a child than it is a grief retreat.
We know this is very disappointing and perhaps even offensive to single parents who have lost children and long for the companionship and healing a weekend like Respite Retreat at the Beach could provide. We agree with you that someone should offer something like this. But we have our hands full with what we believe we’re specifically called to and equipped for. We think it would be terrific for a single parent who has experienced God working in his or her life following the death of a child to host such a retreat that addresses some of the unique challenges of going through this loss without a spouse. Perhaps you are, or will one day be, that person.
The short answer is yes, we’d love to have you, but there is more we want you to know.
At one level, the loss is a loss, and it is a comfort to find companionship with others who hurt as we hurt. And there is so much you share with the other grieving parents who come to Respite Retreat—the sense of emptiness, the loss of dreams, and the difficult questions about why this has happened. But, there are other aspects of losing a child who has lived in your home and been an active part of your family and history that are just different from the loss of a child through stillbirth—not more or less difficult, just different.
During the Respite Retreat we spend a great deal of time focusing on practical aspects of loss such as dealing with photographs, your child's friends and belongings, regrets in interactions with your child or in accidents that led to the child's death, helping siblings with the loss, etc. We are always concerned that couples who have lost a child who died before birth may feel additional hurt by the fact that they don't have the memories and experiences that many of the other couples have with their children. We display pictures of the children, and sometimes couples who've experienced a stillbirth do not have a photo or feel uncomfortable sharing one they have, and that may make them feel left out.
With these concerns for your comfort expressed, please know that you are welcome to come. At every retreat, we have one or two couples attend whose children have been stillborn or died at birth, and they have all been really blessed to be at the retreat. These couples often express that they felt their loss was greatly respected by the rest of the group, and they were able to share in their sorrow with others.
So we leave the decision with you. If both of you are convinced that the weekend will be helpful to you as a couple as you seek after healing in the grief you are experiencing in your loss, we welcome you to come.
Yes. We urge you to visit a Griefshare group in your area. GriefShare is a small group ministry for grieving people hosted in 12,000 churches around the country. At a GriefShare group, you will receive two important things—wisdom and expertise provided by a video teaching, as well as the companionship of other people also going through loss. It will be a safe place to talk about the loss of your child.
You may want to visit a couple of groups as you may find that one group or one facilitator is a better fit for you than another. To find a GriefShare group in your area, go to www.griefshare.org and input your zip code. The names of churches in your area that host GriefShare groups will come up along with contact information for the facilitator plus when and where their groups meet.
See our "Resources" page for more information regarding grief.
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