Today’s guest, Carrie, and her husband Ben attended their first retreat for bereaved parents only two months after their toddler, Luella, died from bacterial pneumonia. They drove 10 hours from their home in central Illinois to Faith’s Lodge in northern Wisconsin. Carrie said that it was the first time they had felt seen and held since Luella had died. The support they received was amazing and on that 10-hour drive home, Carrie and Ben decided they wanted to make their own retreats locally for people in their community.
Their home was a large, beautiful cabin on 10 acres surrounded by trails and nature. Carrie said that she was immediately ready to give up this space as their family home and instead create a haven for bereaved parents. That was in November of 2018. They were ready to start hosting retreats in 2020, but the pandemic forced them to do their first groups virtually. By 2022, however, their dream had become a reality and they began hosting retreats at Luella’s Lodge.
As I talked with Carrie, I was struck by the significance of all of this happening in their family home. When they originally moved in, Ben and Carrie planned for this to be their forever home. It would be filled with children and laughter. They have happy memories of walking along trails with young Luella, watching her wave to neighboring cows. After Luella died, however, that same home would feel big and empty. Memories of Luella were everywhere, but sorrow, not joy, would be the overwhelming emotion.
The birth of Luella’s Lodge, however, changed everything. Certainly, there are still tears in this building, but they are tears of both sorrow and healing. Laughter has returned to this space, and people feel free to be their authentic selves while they are here. Bereaved parents find support here. They find hope and healing. They meet others here who will become their lifelong friends. That’s why I am so excited to partner with Carrie to co-host an upcoming retreat sometime in the fall of this year. I cannot wait to experience the sacred space of Luella’s Lodge myself and hope many will join me.