Single Parenting a Loss Baby Post-Retreat
By Robynne Knight
Parenting your child alone. Being a single bereaved parent can be challenging. Death, divorce, separation, choice, or other circumstances can mean that you are grieving your child as a single parent. This can feel especially isolating in the midst of an already lonely loss experience. Often, you are the only parent who will plan a funeral or memorial service, celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays in memory of your child. Though you may have supportive friends, family, and community around you, it can be hard not to share your grief with a partner. If you are a single bereaved parent, please know that you are not alone. There are many parents in the same situation, even if they may seem few and far between.
Returning from a retreat. Coming home from a Return to Zero retreat can also be challenging. You have spent a weekend surrounded by a loving, heartfelt community and may find it difficult to share the depth of your experiences with anyone else. If you are a single bereaved parent, this sense of disconnect can be even more acute.
A retreat can stir up feelings and memories you may have thought were behind you. While many parents feel a greater sense of connection and closeness to their child after a retreat, complex and difficult feelings can also arise. Guilt, regret, sorrow, longing for your child and/or the other parent, or feelings of abandonment may be triggered by the deep, inner work that happens on retreat. It’s important to be gentle with yourself during this time. Reaching out for support from friends, family, and/or a mental health therapist are important to help you process and integrate your experience.
Here are a few tips for you as a single bereaved parent after a retreat:
Keep your connections to fellow retreat attendees. Plan to connect with other retreat participants in your area in the weeks and months following your retreat. If you aren’t able to do so, due to time, location, or other circumstances, try to stay in touch via phone, email, or your Facebook group. You can also connect with other retreat alumni through the RTZ Retreat Alumni Group.
Spend time with others. It can be helpful to schedule time with a close friend or family member, to share about your experience at the retreat (if you feel comfortable), or just to have fun and spend time together. Feelings of isolation as a single parent can spiral, so it’s important to remind yourself that you aren’t alone and do have a community of friends and family supporting you.
Practice self-care. Self-care practices you learned on the retreat can help you manage some of the challenges of returning home. Preparing nourishing foods, setting time aside for a gentle yoga practice, or lighting a candle in your baby’s name each morning can be wonderful rituals to help you stay feeling connected to the positive experiences from the retreat. Remember to take small, manageable steps toward self-care.
Further resources. For more resources on grieving as a single parent, see Still Standing Magazine’s article, Grieving as a Single Parent by Robynne Knight, and The Compassionate Friends’ leaflet The Bereaved Lone Parent.