This is a weekend for bereaved couples and singles to spend some relaxed, unhurried time with other parents who understand the experience of losing a child. As we go through the weekend, we will learn from each other, pray for one another, encourage each other, and find out that we are not alone on this journey. Our goal at these retreats is to point grieving parents to our only true source of comfort, Jesus Christ. Anyone who has lost a child is welcome to come. You are welcome if your child has been in Heaven for thirty days or for thirty years. You are welcome if your child was stillborn and never took a single earthly breath, or if your child lived to be an adult and had a family of his or her own. Come, knowing you will be surrounded by people who care, who understand, and who will pray for you. This will be a safe place, a place where we can honestly discuss our struggles, knowing we will not be judged, because every one of us has been there at one time or another. We will also share our victories, and rejoice with each other as we move along the road toward healing. What will we do over the course of the weekend? We’ll talk about our kids in Heaven and we’ll pray for each other. We’ll explore the beauty of nature around us, enjoy delicious meals together, discuss God’s presence in our grief, and form lasting bonds of friendship. Our time will be informal, but structured. Certainly, we will cry together … but we will also laugh together. There is no cost to attend one of these special events.
Come, knowing you will be surrounded by people who care, who understand, and who will pray for you. This will be a safe place, a place where we can honestly discuss our struggles, knowing we will not be judged, because every one of us has been there at one time or another. We will also share our victories, and rejoice with each other as we move along the road toward healing.
Most of our retreats are hosted at the While We’re Waiting Refuge, a retreat facility in Hot Springs, Arkansas, which has been built and designed specifically with bereaved parents in mind. The Refuge is nestled in the midst of tranquil thoroughbred farms in a quiet country setting with a stocked pond and fifty wooded acres on which to roam. The Refuge is specifically designed for the comfort of bereaved parents, with a welcome center, a large kitchen/dining area overlooking the pond, a comfortable and cozy meeting room, a library/sitting area, an expansive deck, and ten hotel-room style bedrooms, each with its own private bathroom. This event is open to both single parents and married couples. There are no other guests present at The Refuge during our retreats, so we can fully relax and make ourselves at home for the weekend. The Refuge is also fully accessible, with two handicapped-equipped guest rooms. Lodging for the weekend and all meals are provided, and there is no cost to the attendees.
Jim and Carol’s daughter, Sarah Elizabeth, went to heaven on December 16, 2011, at the age of 19. The Smithermans have been married for over 30 years and have two other children, Matt and Mark. They have two beautiful grandchildren, Isaac and Ethan. Jim is the program manager for the local water resources agency. Carol has her grandboys two days a week and works part time at a free dental clinic. They are anxious to represent God well in this journey and feel blessed to be a part of the While We're Waiting ministry.
Brad and Jill’s daughter, Hannah, went to Heaven on February 26, 2009, at the age of 17. She battled glioblastoma brain cancer for one year with grace and without fear, accepting it as "her storm" ... her opportunity to bring glory to God. Brad is retired after 31 years in public education and together, they serve as the executive directors of the While We're Waiting ministry. Jill hosts the While We're Waiting - Hope After Child Loss podcast. They enjoy hiking, kayaking, and spending time with their daughter Bethany. They have a passion for pointing grieving moms and dads to the hope we have in Jesus.
Our retreats are 100% free, though we do accept a voluntary donation at the close of the retreat.
While We're Waiting is a 501(c)3 non-profit that operates entirely off of generous donations.
Only parents (and stepparents) who have experienced the death of a child are able to attend While We're Waiting events.
Yes, single parents are welcome at all While We're Waiting events.
Yes, you are welcome to attend without your spouse.
Parents are ready at different times to attend a While We're Waiting event. Some feel ready to come within just a few months, and for others, it may be years before they feel ready to come. Only you will know the time that's right for you.
Yes! There is still a benefit to attending a While We're Waiting event, even if your loss was many years ago, and it's possible that you could encourage others whose loss is more recent.
Yes! We have many parents who have lost adult children attend our events. The co-founders of this ministry, Larry & Janice Brown, lost their son when he was 36 years old.
Yes! We have many parents who have lost babies attend our events. We believe that every life has immense value, no matter how brief, and we understand that your grief is just as valid as those whose children had a longer earthly life.
The maximum number of people at our full-weekend retreats is 24, at our Mini-Retreats for Moms is 10, and at our Dads' Days is 10. We like to keep our groups small so people can really connect and build relationships that last beyond the retreat.
You can attend more than one type of retreat; for example, you can attend a Mini-Retreat for Moms and a full weekend retreat. Or you can attend a "regular" While We're Waiting Weekend for Bereaved Parents and a While We're Waiting Weekend for Parents Touched by Suicide. However, you cannot attend two of the same type of retreat due to the waiting list issues we have ... We want everyone who wants to come to have that opportunity!
Please go ahead and register for the waiting list. We quite often get cancellations, and there's a good chance you'll get in. And if we don't get an opening for you, we will have your name in our system and can hopefully get you into the next one!
Absolutely! Just be aware that we are a biblically-based ministry and we believe that a relationship with Jesus Christ is the only source of true comfort in grief, so that will be a large part of our conversation throughout the weekend. We simply ask that you respect the faith of the facilitators and other parents in attendance.