Weavings will be held twice this year, March 24-26 and Nov. 3-5 . Learn More
Mothers who had lost a child in death found comfort in speaking openly to one another of their beloved children, their grief and their possibility of hope at the 2022 Weavings weekend-long retreat. Professional grief counselors and volunteers from BJC Hospice encouraged sharing and healing and led activities of celebration and remembrance for each child.
In the 16th year of the Weavings retreat, 22 moms attended in honor of their children, who ranged in age from 2 weeks old into their late 40s and died from suicide, homicide, accidents, sudden medical issues and long-term illnesses.
Participants came from across the St. Louis metropolitan area and surrounding Illinois communities, along with one participant from Richland, Missouri, one from Michigan, one from Indiana and one from Alabama. The accommodations, activities and meals for the weekend were all offered at no cost to participants because of generous donations from the communities BJC Hospice serves.
“The moms at the retreat came from different backgrounds and different losses,” says Andrea Tritinger, BJC Hospice bereavement supervisor. “But they connected with each other and supported one another unconditionally. There is always this deeper level of understanding among the moms at the retreat because they all get what it truly means to lose a child.”
The moms were greeted by past “Weavers,” mothers who had attended the retreat before and lavished them with quilts, pillowcases and a welcome basket filled with gifts from local businesses and organizations who supported this retreat.
During the Weavings retreat, the moms had a chance to speak their child’s name openly and hear their child’s name spoken to them. They met in small groups to have more intimate discussions about their feelings and experiences and participated in large group rituals too.
“Although they never would have imagined needing to come to a retreat like this, they form a community to help each other move forward,” says Tritinger. “And so many moms tell us how much they appreciate knowing that they are not alone in this experience.”
They created an expressive art project making a small weaving, where they reflected on their lives, the children they lost and their safe place. They also were able to spend an afternoon with free time to play, create jewelry, paint, enjoy the outdoors or rest. The BJC music therapists created a beautiful song from the memories the moms shared of their children and shared the song with the moms.
Weavings will be held twice this year, March 24-26 and Nov. 3-5, at the Pallottine Renewal Center in Florissant, Missouri. It is recommended to register early.
In their own words, from mothers who attended Weavings
“I just wanted to thank you again for the opportunity to attend Weavings, and especially for making space for us out-of-staters. It was an extraordinary chance for me to simply grieve for my son and try to support other moms who are also grieving. Since my son died, I've been reading research, talking up grief with the experts, and it's funny, but I didn't learn a thing at the Weavings weekend — which was really great! It was simply a time to honor his memory, to feel his loss, to connect with others. I live in my head a lot, so this was really an important weekend for me.
The best thing about the weekend is how supported and cared for I felt. I just couldn't believe it, the outpouring of love from the leaders, organizers, volunteers and behind-the-scenes folks. A huge thank you to all involved in making us feel so soothed and comforted.”
“I wanted to write to you to express my deepest gratitude to you, every group leader and all of the other gifted, compassionate contributors for including me in this life-changing Weavings retreat. I mean it when I say 'life-changing/healing retreat' because it is even more than that. It was so powerful yet gently put together in the perfect sequence to tenderly guide us to a safe healing place. But even more than that, the staff and the moms have saved a life. Mine. You gave me my life and soul back. I’ve finally come to realize and understand what it means to accept that my son is not coming back in physical form, but really and truly has never left me. His spirit has not died and never will. His light has not gone out and never will go out. I felt this a while ago but was very depressed and forgot it. Actually, no. I didn’t forget, I knew it all along but I had to learn it for myself. The Weavings retreat showed me the way back home.
There is no amount of money that would be worth what the Weavings retreat’s true value is. However, it would be my honor to be able to volunteer to greet the women next year. I also would like to donate water and bake cookies. Please let me know whatever it is I can do to pay this great treasure of the Weavings retreat forward to the, I’m sad to say, next group of moms.
Thank you so much for everything you have done for me and my soul sisters from Weavings! I’m forever grateful to you all.”
“Once again, blessings on your work in the future — trust me, I’ve attended my share of seminars, workshops, etc. — and I have to say this was probably one of the most positive, healing experiences I’ve encountered. God bless you.”
“Thank you so much for the amazing weekend. Each activity was meaningful and special. Just when I thought you could not make it any better, you did something more special. I happy cried at the light ceremony and smiled at the song. I felt cared for after being a caretaker for so long. Your staff was kind, compassionate, funny and loving. I met amazing women. Sharing our experiences was life changing.”
“I have been hurting and now I feel like I can start healing.”
“The staff created a space to help us instantly bond, which allowed us to open up to each other.”
“We were all meant to be here, to share these tears and this experience.”
“My daughter has always been in the back of my head and you brought her up to the front of my heart.”
“I never have to feel like I want to end my life and not have anyone to call.”
“Even though it was sad for me, this weekend brought joy to me and you all will always be in my heart.”
“I am taking away from this my freedom to grieve. This experience has helped me tremendously and it has put me on a different platform to be able to move forward.”
“As much deep grief as I have experienced since my son died, I have experienced at least that much joy in being here.”
“I haven’t felt happy for four months until coming here.”
“I feel like I re-met my daughter here.”
“This weekend did what six months of grief counseling couldn’t do. I haven’t had this much peace and clarity since my son died. I will carry this with me for the rest of my life.”