April 18, 2011

Grieving Mothers Find Help and Healing After Tragedy

Local Nonprofit Hosts Retreat for Mothers Coping With the Loss of a Child

Redwood City, CA—The sudden loss of a child is a devastating event for a parent. While the grief process is different for every individual, mothers who have lost a child experience many common threads as they work through the emotional trauma. Recognizing that this particular type of loss requires a particular type of healing, the Tim Griffith Foundation, a local nonprofit, has created the Meadowlark Retreat to offer mothers a safe place to grieve, connect and heal. This year, the third semi-annual retreat was held on April 8-10 in Menlo Park.

As a weekend sanctuary facilitated by professionals in grief counseling, the Meadowlark Retreat creates a unique, residential haven where mothers participate in support groups, art therapy, movement and bodywork, and safe, serene reflection. A mother who attended the retreat said, “I cannot express how much this weekend has meant to me. My world has changed, my path is brighter. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.”

Stacey Redman, founder and president of the Tim Griffith Foundation, has survived the loss of an adult child and understands the needs of participants firsthand. “The loss of a child is devastating beyond words,” she said. “And it is a loss too frightening for many people to acknowledge. Too many mothers bear this burden alone and isolated. The Meadowlark Retreat creates a nurturing refuge for mothers to take crucial first steps to healing and solace.”

Multiple psychological studies confirm that unresolved grief can spiral to dangerous coping mechanisms, such as substance abuse or self-harm. Parents who are not able to function due to the weight of their grief can plummet to the need for social and safety net services. For mothers especially, unresolved grief is often buried due to the fact that they are still responsible for the care and well-being of other family members. The Meadowlark Retreat offers a lifeline to these resilient women by preventing the effects of un-mourned loss or unsupported grief.

According to professional grief counselor and retreat facilitator Shelly Gillan, “This is a distinct type of loss—losing a child. And the grief process is reawakened throughout the year with every passing birthday, family gathering, holiday, and especially Mother’s Day.” Currently serving as the Director of Client Services for Kara, a local grief support organization, Gillan believes in the transformative power of the Meadowlark Retreat. “This retreat helps women through one of life’s most painful experiences,” she said. “We listen, validate, sympathize, and reassure them in a safe and gentle environment. For many, it is the first time they’ve been able to acknowledge their suffering out loud, without fear, guilt or feeling responsible for comforting others.”

The Tim Griffith Foundation was honored to host this incredible retreat once again and has a second retreat planned for the fall. Hosted at a private Menlo Park home with gardens and a pool, the Meadowlark Retreat costs approximately $1,400 per participant. The Foundation heavily subsidizes this figure, and participants are asked to contribute $450, though there are scholarships available for those in need. Interested women are encouraged to visit the website and contact Stacey Redman for more information.