Rebecca’s Gift provides family vacations after the death of a child to support and assist their healing process through a place to reconnect, rebuild, and relax.
The siblings of an extremely sick and dying child lack control over the regular happenings in their lives. Their parents are understandably busy with the day-to-day realities of care giving at its most difficult, and the siblings can’t help but feel sidelined. There is jealousy, hurt, sadness, grief...so many emotions, so many hard moments for a child to understand and process. After their brother or sister is gone, they are left to figure out their place in a fractured family, right at the moment their parents are most stricken with grief. Taking a family trip gives these children and their parents a chance to have their own special space, and a time for those surviving children when their needs come first.
While I would never have taken a trip for myself after the death of my son, because I knew I couldn't go away from my grief, I would have gone on a trip for the sake of my other children, to take them away, to be able to pay all of my attention to them. That alone would be a reason to go.—J. D.
Being together 24/7 for five days made us more aware of each other and our new family roles. We created new memories. Getting away, in our new family form, helped us get more used to the new normal that is now our lives.—K. Meyer
Everyone needs a chance to escape real life for a few days. This is especially true of a family recovering from the death of a child. Fun refills the batteries and reduces stress. Families find themselves not just acting happy, but actually being happy, for periods of time. There is time to be together, time to sit quietly alone, and time to talk. Families find it easier to open fresh lines of communication away from routines and the regular rhythm of days at home. When away together, they don’t just continue to orbit each other, but can relearn how to function together as a team.
One night on our vacation, my daughter cried for a long time about how unfair the world was because her popsicle fell on the ground and she wanted her popsicle back. Every time she said “popsicle,” I heard “sister.” I wished I could make it all better. That’s my job, but I couldn’t put the popsicle back on the stick any more than I could keep Rebecca alive.
It was the first time she had raged and screamed and cried since Rebecca’s death. Later that night she told me, “Mom, you know that when I was crying about the popsicle, I was really crying about Rebecca.”
I absolutely believe being on that trip allowed her to look at her feelings for the first time since Rebecca’s death and really cry. In order to start rebuilding, you need to tear down first. After we came home from that trip, the new normal was easier to be in—not perfect, but easier.—K. Meyer
Cake for breakfast, or just someone else to make breakfast. Easy, open days with time to wander or sleep in or have an adventure. Of course, everyone can do these things at home, but on vacation, they become magical moments. Rules are out; everyone can sleep late and stay up later.
We went to a local pancake house as a vacation treat but didn’t expect the huge, chocolate-drenched pancakes we got. Every time we looked at the pancakes, we dissolved into giggles together.—K. Meyer