What actually happens at a Bereaved Parent Support Weekend?
During the weekend there will be short talks from the front, time spent in small groups around the table, and an opportunity to discuss certain issues in more detail in groups where there is a common interest (e.g. dad’s grief, faith issues, emotions). There will also be an opportunity to do some practical things to help us to remember our children. All those involved in speaking from the front and in the groups are bereaved parents. It is a safe place to be amongst those who understand.
How is a Bereaved Parent Support Weekend different from a day event?
There are some similar talks and activities to those at a Bereaved Parent Support Day, but we also address certain areas in more detail in a workshop setting to give greater opportunity to learn from one another’s experiences. One major advantage in being together for the weekend is that there is more time – more time to talk, more time to listen, more time to learn, more time to meet people and make friends. The whole experience is very much less hurried and more relaxed. Having said that, one delegate did ask if we could have a longer weekend!
How soon after my child has died should I come?
This varies greatly for each individual. People have come along as soon as four weeks following the death; others have attended 20 years after their child died. There is no right or wrong time. It can be a helpful experience both in those first few painful months and also after years have gone by when there are still difficult hurdles to overcome.
How many people will be there?
Numbers vary and so we can’t be definite, but in the past there have been around 50 people on average, plus our team of volunteer befrienders (all of whom are bereaved parents themselves).
What if I cry in front of other people?
There are usually lots of tears at a Bereaved Parent Support Weekend and that’s OK – we always have plenty of tissues. It’s a time and place where it is safe to be yourself and to express your grief amongst those who really understand. There are usually times of laughter, too, as we get to know one another and are able to relax together.
I’m not sure I’ll be able to talk to other people.
That’s fine. There is no ‘have to’ about the weekend at all. Initially we put people together into smaller groups so that they are with others who have lost a child of a similar age or in similar circumstances. You are free to say as much or as little about your story as you like. You can listen to others and contribute if you feel able. If you feel you need to go out, get some air, or have a walk – that’s no problem. As the weekend progresses there is opportunity to meet people from other groups and discover things together with them as well. You can take from the weekend what you feel is helpful to you.
My child was an adult – am I still able to come?
No matter how old our child is, we are still their parent and never expected, at any stage of our lives, to have to plan their funeral. The death of our child is never part of the natural or expected order of life. So, even if they were grown up, married and had children of their own, they are still our ‘child’ whom we love and had hopes and dreams for.
My baby was stillborn – am I still a bereaved parent?
Of course. Losing a baby before birth is especially difficult. We made plans and preparations for this precious child, and we had hopes and dreams of all they would do and be. When those dreams all disappear before we ever have the chance to meet, hold and get to know our baby, it is particularly painful. Friends and relatives who never met this baby may find it difficult to recognise their significance, but to us, the parents, this only adds to our feelings of loneliness. Some of our volunteer befrienders have lost babies before and soon after birth.
Will there be single parents there or is it only for couples?
Some who come along to a Bereaved Parent Support Weekend are couples, some are step-parents, and some come on their own. Some are single parents and others come alone because their partner is unable to come or doesn’t want to. Sometimes when a person comes on their own, they bring along a ‘supporter’ who may be a close friend or relative, and is usually someone who knew their child well and misses them too.
I’m too ashamed to tell other people how my son/daughter died.
Amidst suffering the pain of the death of their child, some parents feel they have society’s disapproval of the way their child died. Perhaps it was suicide, a drug overdose, or alcohol or substance abuse. You may feel you are denied the comfort and understanding that we all so desperately need. At a Bereaved Parent Support Weekend you are one of us – parents of a beloved son or daughter. You are free to share as much or as little of your story as you feel comfortable with.
Where does a Bereaved Parent Support Weekend take place?
We are fortunate to be able to use a beautiful hotel in a rural setting near Daventry where there is a peaceful environment and we can meet together in comfortable and safe surroundings.
Can we use the leisure facilities at the hotel?
Yes! We have full use of all the facilities that the hotel offers, which includes an indoor leisure complex with pool, sauna, steam room and whirlpool spa. There is also an 18-hole golf course, practice range and spacious grounds. These can be used at any time at all when they are open. As there are no planned activities on Saturday afternoon, this is a good opportunity to use these facilities, relax and chat with new friends or to catch up with older ones.
Will there be any chocolate?
Yes! We want to make you feel special, so there will be lots of chocolate, excellent food and very comfortable surroundings. We really want to help you feel as safe, understood and cared for as we are able.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 02920 810 800 if you have any other questions about a Bereaved Parent Support Weekend.