A Safe Place: A Retreat for Bereaved Parents
At A Safe Place, bereaved parents find a place to share their grief with others who have experienced the death of their child. The retreat is facilitated by other bereaved parents, professional counselors and ministers.
The retreat includes time for group conversations on particular topics such as handling the reactions of others to your loss, strengthening a marriage in the midst of loss, where is God in the loss of a child?, grief within the extended family and celebrating the life of the one lost.
A past participant, Ruth Hinson, spoke of her experience at A Safe Place in this way:
“The spiritual and emotional encouragement of A Safe Place helped me to realize that I can make it through the pain of losing our daughter. I didn’t know what to expect when we arrived. Would I run sobbing into our room when faced with talking about our daughter’s death? No, not at all. Others comforted me as we cried together. And it’s OK to cry together. Seeking help through A Safe Place helped me find comfort and to understand that I can live through it. Just take it one step at a time.”
Hostess: Sue Endsley
3 Lead Facilitators: Peggy Sweeney, Tom and Ellen Dortch
Peggy Sweeney earned a diploma in Mortuary Science from John A. Gupton Mortuary College (Nashville, TN) and a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Management from Bethel University (McKenzie, TN). Peggy is the founder and Executive Director of the Sweeney Alliance. Since 1990, she has written and taught countless workshops on coping with loss and grief for professionals and families.
She is highly experienced in both group and individual bereavement education. Peggy offers support services and resources for specific groups of individuals such as widowed persons, bereaved parents, grieving children, medical and mental health professionals as well as educators and school counselors. Peggy has facilitated A Safe Place several times and we are glad she will be with us this fall.
Tom and Ellen Dortch’s loss occurred June 25, 2011, when Ellen’s only child, Jim, and his family were in an auto accident. Jim; his wife, Leah; and their one-year-old, Luke, all died in the accident. Jace, their almost five-year-old, survived. However, he was hurt badly and sent via air ambulance to a trauma hospital for care. Jace has since been adopted by Leah’s parents, and although he has healed physically from his injuries he still has separation anxiety from the accident.
Since that fateful day, Tom and Ellen have been participants in the Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church’s (PHPC) six weekslong Grief Group. In 2011, they attended Mo-Ranch’s A Safe Place Retreat as well as other various grief seminars. In 2014, 2015 and 2017, they were facilitators in the Loss of a Child sub-group at PHPC’s Grief Group. Both Tom and Ellen have received extensive training in fostering healthy and healing relationships as facilitators of grief sessions and retreats. Tom and Ellen were facilitators for Mo-Ranch’s A Safe Place retreat in 2017, and they are so excited to be returning!
Cost and Housing
Hotel lodging is available.
Double Occupancy Room: $300
A $75.00 deposit must accompany registration. The balance of all fees will be due 45 days prior to the start of the event, or upon registration if within 45 days full payment is required at the time of registration.
Full refund minus $75.00 administrative fee per person will be made if cancellation is received more than 30 days prior to the conference. There are generally no refunds for cancellations received on or after 30 days prior to the start of the event nor any applying of the deposit toward other charges or future deposits.
Scholarships are available! Click here to learn more.
Arrival and Check-In
Please plan to arrive between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. the day your conference begins. Programs begin with dinner at 6 p.m.
What to Bring
Linens are provided. Bring shoes suitable for Mo-Ranch’s rocky, uneven terrain, casual clothing, a swimsuit and river shoes to enjoy the river. Bring items such as a light jacket/sweater, flashlight, insect repellent, Bible, notebook, tennis racket and camera.
Mo-Ranch is 90 miles one-way, or a 2-hour drive from the nearest airport (SAT), allow 3 hours travel/check-in time for departures. We recommend generally scheduling arriving flights before 3 p.m. and departing flights after 3 p.m. to be sure you do not miss any of your event. If you are in need of shuttle service to Mo-Ranch, call Kars for Hire in Kerrville at (830) 890-8200 at least 15 days in advance to arrange transportation from San Antonio International Airport.