The While We’re Waiting Weekends for Parents Touched by Suicide are a recent addition to the retreats we offer. We recognize that the loss of a child to suicide is unique and that there is great value in hosting retreats that specifically address this situation. This will be a very special opportunity to spend some unhurried, relaxed time with other singles and couples who have experienced the loss of a child to suicide. We have found that there is no greater comfort than the fellowship of other Christian parents who truly understand the struggles that naturally accompany this type of loss. Our retreats offer that opportunity, and also provide a safe place to work through some of the questions and struggles we experience as grieving moms and dads who have lost children to suicide … all the while focusing on the hope we have of seeing our children again one day. There is so much encouragement to be found in spending time with other parents who truly understand our grief, but who also share the hope we have in Jesus.
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 singles and 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.
Bob and Susan Wathen's 18-year-old daughter Hannah died by suicide in May of 2015. The Wathens are blessed with two other daughters and four grandchildren. They have been involved in various ministries throughout the years, including several mission trips to Guatemala, college student ministry, and leading a While We're Waiting Support Group in their hometown of Hannibal, Missouri. They are anchored in hope and grieving with faith and have a passion to minister to other hurting moms and dads.
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.