Saturday, March 30, 2013

Faith's Lodge

My Husband and I attended Faith's Lodge in January of this year, three weeks after Nora's death.  The lodge is a gorgeous facility nestled in the northern woods of Wisconsin next to a small pond surrounded by tall pine trees.  Faith's Lodge is a special place dedicated to healing after child loss.  Here bereaved parents and families who have experienced the death of a child or are unfortunately, preparing for their child's death due to terminal illness, can come to focus on their grief and their child.

Faith's Lodge was founded by Mark and Susan Lacek in honor of their daughter Faith, their first born child, who was stillborn at 38 weeks gestation in 2000.  Mark and Susan opened Faith's Lodge's doors in 2006 as a tribute to their daughter's memory and to provide other bereaved parents a serene place to focus on their grief and meet others who have walked the dark path after a child dies. The ultimate goal of Faith's Lodge is to provide families with hope and healing during their darkest hour.

The lodge provides weekend retreats that brings together parents that have experienced the same type of child loss. Nick and I participated in one of these weekend retreats with four other couples and one mom that had all experienced the death of their child during pregnancy or shortly there after. But the lodge offers retreats specializing in different child death situations including SID's, teen death, terminal illness, and even children that have past away in their college years.  They even do specialized groups for child death due to gun violence.

When others ask what we did at Faith's Lodge, Nick and I often reply, "We spent time with Nora."  While we were there we were able to focus our attention on our daughter, share stories about our pregnancy with other parents.  We were able to speak her name without shame to those who understood the pain and the pleasure from doing so.  Some of our best relationships and connections were made at Faith's Lodge and the other bereaved parents are the ones I feel the closest to in my journey because of the focused time we spent together sharing about our children, the loss of hopes and dreams we had for them, along with our few but magical memories we cherish of them.

The weekend consisted of many organized but laid back activities including journal making for the women, wood working for the men, and group therapy.  One activity we did at the lodge that I found incredibly healing and special was the "heart stone" exercise.  Here we picked out a heart shape rock and painted it and specialized it to represent our departed child.  When we were ready, we would place the rock out by the Hope Bridge, with other children's memorial heart stones.

I vividly remember the last morning of our stay, when Nick and I walked down to the bridge hand in hand, holding the stone in my free palm and preparing to say goodbye to Nora in another ritualized way. As we trampled through the snow I brought Nora's heart stone close to my face and whispered loud enough for Nick to hear, "Goodbye Nora.  I will always love you." And with a kiss to the stone I handed it to Nick and he brought Nora's stone up to his lips and kissed it gently as he would have his daughter's forehead and said, "I love you my baby girl."  After we kissed her rock goodbye each one last time we placed her heart stone in a tree by the bridge where Nora's stone now rests with other children's stones who have left this earth and their parents too soon.

Words can not describe the importance and healing qualities of Faith's Lodge and what it provides.  It was an important part of our healing journey and in assisting us in connecting with others and starting the journey of healing through our connections through our time spent there and the shared experiences and memories we made with others.  The combination of nature, others who understand, and rituals in healing that Faith's Lodge provided laid out a framework for Nick and I to move forward in our grief towards healing and finding hope, as Faith's Lodge sets out to do.

If you need to get away with others who know child loss and who walk with grief like you do, consider contacting Faith's Lodge.  Here you will be able to take a break from the chaos of life and truly focus on your deceased child in a way the brings healing.   Faith's Lodge is a secular organization that is not based in any religion and is open to all who have experienced child loss.  A stay at Faith's Lodge does cost $50 a night, but includes rooming, food, and programming.  Faith's Lodge strives to serve all those who wish to visit and does not turn anyone away for financial reasons.  Scholarships to cover the cost of the stay are available on their Website.  For more information go to their Website at, it's a special place.     

To see what others say about their stay check out my friend's article Beginning To Heal in Lasting Imprint's webpage.  Here Becky talks about her stay at Faith's Lodge along with quoting others who stayed there with her and what they gained from their time there.    


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