Until the retreat, I hadn’t connected with any other parents. or moms specifically, who were grieving like I was. I was really nervous to share our journey with Vaughn, but I felt safe, understood, and comforted in my grief. I loved that for a whole weekend I was able to talk about him, honour him, and be called Vaughn’s mom. Hazel’s Heroes was something I never knew I needed and I am continuing to heal because of it. I cherish the friendships, and I’m thankful for the shared stories and the beautiful angels we hold so close to our hearts.”
In the months that followed the sudden and unexpected loss of my beautiful 5 year old daughter Lucy, one of the most overwhelming emotions I faced was isolation. The unrelenting feeling, despite all the love and support of my friends and family, that I was in a world where no one understood what I was going through.Hazel’s Heroes provided me the opportunity to spend time with other moms who have also experienced the loss of child, helping me feel less alone. Something I would have never thought possible in the months following Lucy’s death. The retreat also gave me the priceless gift of bringing my daughter to life for 2 days. I felt completely comfortable talking about her, whether during meals (which were wonderful), yoga, or hiking. Being given this weekend to only have to be Lucy’s mom is one I will always treasure.
Before the retreat I felt very lonely in my grief. During the retreat I met so many amazing women who understood my grief without me having to explain anything.One of my biggest fears is that Evelyn will be forgotten. The weekend allowed me to share her with the other mothers completely and openly. We are now all connected by our children. I hold a special place in my heart for each of their children and think of them often and I know they do the same for Evelyn. That is so comforting.
Hazel’s Heroes retreat was so special to me. Although I think of my daughter, Ella, every day, the world sometimes forgets that I am her mother. Hazel’s Heroes offered me the opportunity to simply be Ella’s mom for a couple of days. The retreat was also a great reminder that I am not alone on this incredibly difficult journey. The retreat offered a safe space to talk about Ella and share our experiences with other bereaved moms, those who can best understand the loss of a child.
We lost our son Austin a few weeks before his second birthday five years ago. It was the most excruciating and challenging time of my life. He died in a tragic accident while in a home with 4 loving attentive adults nearby. It only takes a moment of curiosity to change your life forever. It takes even less for people to make judgments. I remember leaving the hospital that day and staring out the window; as we drove past the hospital, I saw the EMT who was on the call outside crying her eyes out. I remember feeling awful for her, how hard must that call have been for her! Reality came crashing down around me the next instant; it was my nightmare she caught a glimpse of. It has never made sense to me that because she was at work she had access to support immediately (and rightly so) but we were left to pick up the pieces on our own. My husband, 6 year old son, 4 year old daughter and myself, who had just found out we were expecting our 4th child the day before his death, were left alone to try and put back together the pieces of our lives. We never received one single phone call from victim’s services or the police to check up on our family. Trying to navigate through our grief is how I came across Hazels Heroes. My children were suffering, my husband was suffering, I was suffering; I did not know where to turn. We spent those first few years struggling to keep our heads above the water, and we did. We were all okay, living life and finding a balance. I wasn’t even sure what I could possibly gain from the Retreat as I was doing just fine on my own; but I owed it to myself to give it a chance. Hazel’s Heroes Retreat, which is designed for mothers who have lost young children, changed everything for me. It was like someone held out their hand to me and I realized I had been thrashing about in utter exhaustion all this time, when all I had to do is plant my feet on the ground and keep my chin up; suddenly the water didn’t seem as deep as I thought it was. These beautiful Warrior Mommas helped lighten my burden by just being there to share, to laugh, to cry and to support one another. I found this beautiful community I did not even realize existed.I have absolutely no words that would do this retreat justice. I am sure all of us Mothers in loss are doing okay on our own, trying to help our families through the darkest time of our lives. We do not have a choice but to keep struggling through and surviving our losses. It never occurred to me what an amazing asset this kind of community would be. By surrounding myself with other mothers on similar journeys I felt lighter, less alone and dare I say content. In such a small amount of time we bonded, shared, laughed, cried and lifted each other up. It was the most magical and awe inspiring weekend I have ever experienced. Thank you so much to Gillian and Hazel’s Heroes for such an impactful weekend. Thank you so much for all your hard work, late nights, meticulous planning and tireless fund-raising to see it come to life.
Hazel’s Heroes Retreat was an amazing opportunity and life changing experience. It was exactly what I needed when I didn’t even know I needed it. I have never been able to connect or spend time with other mothers just like me. It was so nice to spend a weekend where it was all about my son who passed away.
I attended Hazels Heroes retreat in June, shortly after what should have been my daughter’s first birthday. I was a little apprehensive going into it but that anxiety faded away as soon as I arrived. Everyone was absolutely amazing and welcoming. Gillian works incredibly hard to put on a beautiful weekend of healing, connection, and hope. She makes you feel important, and more importantly, she makes you feel your child is important too. The location is breathtaking, in the most beautiful part of Alberta. The food was totally gourmet and delicious. I’m still craving the crepes a year later. It’s hard to put into words how vital it really is to connect with others who truly know the pain you’re facing but this retreat does exactly that. You will leave with an entirely new support system and lifelong friends.