We want to help some friends attend Respite Retreat. What should we do?

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 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. To help make it possible for them to attend a Respite Retreat is a great way to truly help. 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?

* Decide what you, your church, or your group of friends are willing to cover in terms of cost—whether it will be just the registration cost or if you are also providing funds for gas, flights, rental car if needed, meals on the way, extra hotel nights if needed, etc. 

• Download the brochure from Respite Retreat page on the website and send it to your friends along with a link to the webpage, letting them know that you would like to help make it possible for them to attend the retreat if it something they want to do. Give them the dates for the next retreat and make sure they understand that there is space for only the first 11 couples who register.

We've learned a thing or two along the way of doing these retreats since 2009. 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 the initial $100 deposit

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 send the brochure and point your friends to the website, let them know that if they want to come and if they will request the application and return the application with the $100 deposit, you will cover the remaining portion of the registration fee ($450) and whatever 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.