Rebecca’s Gift provides a space away from the everyday rhythm of life for families who have experienced the death of a child; to assist them in moving forward in their healing process through the opportunity to reconnect, rebuild, and relax by providing that significant first vacation wherein new family dynamics can be developed and bonds strengthened.

How we started

My daughter Rebecca was diagnosed with a grade 3 anaplastic astrocytoma in August of 2013. We searched for treatment options, but after almost 10 months of radiation, chemotherapy, and finally experimental trials, Rebecca died of her cancer on June 7, 2014, her sixth birthday.

There are many programs for families struggling to care for a seriously or terminally ill child, but a lot of assistance disappears once the child has actually died. There are also very few programs designed to support siblings after the loss of their brother or sister; most support groups for children are focused on helping them deal with the death of a parent, which is not the same thing.

We were fortunate to have strong support from friends and family, as well as the incredible programs offered by the Hospice of the Western Reserve. At the same time, we were keenly aware of the lack of support for our situation, and even more for our children. In the course of our mourning, we came to realize that one of the deepest sources of healing came from the trips we took together as a family. We decided to do what we could to bring that healing source to as many other bereaved families as possible, and founded Rebecca’s Gift as a result.

Rebecca’s Gift provides a space away from the everyday rhythm of life for families who have experienced the death of a child to support and assist their healing process through a place to reconnect, rebuild, and relax.

Kathryn Meyer, co-founder

On June 7, 2014, my friends, the Meyers, lost their six year old daughter, Rebecca, to brain cancer. From the time the “bad rocks” (tumors) were discovered in August of 2013 to that last day, they were surrounded by support from friends, family, colleagues, and even strangers. I consider myself a close friend of the Meyers but I still can’t fathom what they went through and what they continue to go through as they attempt to rebuild their lives and their family without Rebecca.

Part of their healing journey has been through vacationing together. In my own family, even without a huge loss like this, I notice the healing power of vacationing together. You’re together for three meals a day and for most activities. You’re separated from the daily chores and routines, the school obligations, the social events. It’s just you, your spouse, your kids.

In the months since Rebecca’s death, they took several trips. Before the first trip, Kat could hardly hold a conversation because she was drowning in grief. When we met between those trips, I realized that she took a big step forward after each trip: more natural conversation, being able to talk about funny Rebecca stories, sharing the idea for Rebecca’s Gift. Having seen the healing power of those family vacations, I was moved to partner with Kat to found Rebecca’s Gift and share that healing with other bereaved families.

Karla Winans, co-founder