My first Haven of Hope Retreat
I lost my precious newborn son, Roman, on August 26, 2010. He was born full term and healthy, so his death was completely unexpected. My grief experience was different than most that I’ve heard. I didn’t cling to Roman or hold on to every memory and moment that I had with him. Instead I had his nursery repainted, taken apart and all of his things placed in storage before I got home. I had no plans of ever facing the grief or sharing with anyone! I would only allow myself to cry alone. If I had a breakdown anywhere or in front of anyone, I was embarrassed and felt like I was putting others in a really uncomfortable position. My family tried their best to comfort me by talking, sharing scriptures, reading and suggesting helpful books, etc.. but nothing ever came close to comforting. My heartache never budged for an instant. I felt like no one understood, as much as they tried and empathized. There was a lady in my town, Daisy, who had lost a son and was part of Haven Of Hope. She is passionate about reaching mothers who have experienced loss! I had heard of her! So about 6 months after my loss, when she called my office several times, I actively avoided her calls! I was going through my life in great denial but I was barely holding it together from minute to minute! I knew that if she tried to talk to me I would lose the composure that I fought so hard to maintain. I felt like if I lost my grip, I would never be able to get it back! Then one day, sweet Daisy walked into my office! I had nowhere to hide! So, I closed my door and we began to talk. She was the first person who really did understand and I was so grateful for that small taste of true understanding. It was a relief that I didn’t even know existed. I was glad that I had survived our “little talk”. She ended with an invitation to Haven Of Hope. I had ZERO intentions of going! I gave her my list of reasons why I wouldn’t be able to make it. What I didn’t realize was that my family had already arranged for me to go. They paid for my registration and cleared my work schedule. I tried to think of some other excuses but finally ended up agreeing to go. My plan was to lay by the pool and pray that no one would notice that I wasn’t participating. I was hoping that the weekend would be over quickly! I did not want to cry or see other moms hurting. I was so sick of being sad but I didn’t realize that suppressing the pain and pretending to be happy was crushing my soul. When I got to the retreat I was shaking and so nervous. I didn’t make eye contact with anyone. I was afraid that if i looked at anyone they would see right through me. It was terrifying. I hid in the bathroom as long as reasonably possible. When I finally came out, I just casually stood beside a group of moms, hoping to go unnoticed. Shannon Lenox was the first person to approach me and introduce herself. She looked at my name tag with my sons picture on it. She asked me about Roman. She actually SAID his sweet name! It was a beautiful sound to my ears! I immediately burst into tears. She didn’t flinch. She wasn’t uncomfortable and she didn’t freak out! The crazy thing is that right in that moment all of my embarrassment was lifted. I was ok! That was the first of many tears over the weekend. There was such heavy weight lifted off of me and I began to grieve and finally started the long process of healing. I allowed God to wrap His loving arms around me and comfort me. Haven Of Hope was the beginning of my journey! It not only allowed me to be open and unashamed if my grief, but to also extend comfort to other mothers, which in turn mended my heart even more! I gave my grief to the Lord that weekend and allowed Him to carry the heavy burden. It was a wonderful relief. I received teaching, support, love, true understanding, life long friendships and I began to say my sons name again. Since going to Haven Of Hope I have encountered so many mothers who are on this journey with us. I have been able to encourage them and to be a safe place for them to be vulnerable. I’m so thankful that Haven Of Hope helped me so that I can help others!