Hi, I am Iva Jean Tennant and six years ago my most precious granddaughter was killed due to the actions of a negligent day care provider and my life was ripped apart, never to be the same again. I discovered this amazing organization and they have loved me and helped me grow through this horrific tragedy. We share our stories and build up one another. We have a safe place to vent our emotions, hopes and fears. Without Wings of Hope supporting me throughout the years, I am not sure I would have survived. They are just that: Wings of HOPE and help each person to be able to take each day one day at a time and to move forward, even in little baby steps.
When my granddaughter, Kenzee, was killed, my whole world changed forever: watching and being with my precious daughter as she struggled through the nightmare of this tragedy and the huge hole that was torn in my heart made life almost impossible. Then I read about a retreat to Virginia Beach. I knew no one and just packed up my car and drove 10 hours to join a group of ladies and some husbands that I had never met. I remember how scared I was and thinking I must be crazy; I was: I was crazy with grief and a broken heart.
When I got there, I was so afraid to walk in the door, but I soon realized that I had nothing to fear. I was welcomed and brought in with friendly smiles and hugs and helps of carrying my luggage up a flight of stairs. I met the most amazing supportive people who understood what I was going through.
Throughout the week as we opened up and felt safe doing so it was amazing the bonds we were forming. We all were there with a common bond and we knew that it was a safe place to express our feelings. We were together with others who were at various walks along this path that had been forced upon us.
Here we could talk about our favorite memories and share things that helped us or hindered us. We could pose questions and chat. We remembered our children and did various things to celebrate their lives. We could cry or just hold onto someone tight and knew that someone truly cared and understood.
We cooked together, walked the beach together, had barbecues together, swam together and even were lucky enough to go for a ride on a tall ship and enjoy the sun and water.
More importantly, we found people who understood us and validated us and we all had a chance to speak as we needed. There was no pressure, no judgment--just love, compassion and concern.
I met some of the most amazing people whom I continue to keep in contact and will continue.
Since that retreat, I went to a few other retreats: Arkansas and Fort Lauderdale and back to 'Virginia Beach and each time I gained more strength and met more beautiful grieving parents and grandparents.
I am not even sure how the organizers are able to give us so much at these retreats: from the food, little special mementos, the memorial candles, videos, special outings (such as tall ships, or motor boat sightseeing or shopping or beach time), balloon release or butterfly release, or special guest speakers or message in the bottle releasing in the ocean or dj and sing along and ALL at a fabulous retreat house!!!
The outpouring of compassion is amazing and for once you will be with people who "get it" ---who understand.
For those who can't go to a retreat, there are state chapters whose leaders are trying desperately to get little get togethers in your state to make everyone feel like they have a place to belong.
I give everyone involved in putting this together a lot of credit and thanks and love. They, too, have lost a child and they are opening up their hearts to everyone to make a difference with the grieving parent and grandparents. What an awesome organization.
Wings of Hope has helped me with the loss of my 4 year old daughter. This group has been there to help my whole family and to help me understand that people are there to help get through these horrible tragedies.
We lost our oldest son in 2001. His baby brother was killed in an accident in 2009. I attended the first Wings of Hope retreat in 2012 & continue to attend retreats, including the most recent one in VA Beach. This group has meant so much to me over the years. I was welcomed with open arms, lots of hugs & understanding from other parents on this same grief journey. The retreats are well planned & bring hope & healing to all who attend. We come from all over the US (& some outside the US). We come from all walks of life. Our stories are unique but, their outcomes are the same. We're just trying to get through this life without our precious children. Wings of Hope is an amazing organization - I don't know where I would be without this group.
Wings of Hope has softened my grief journey so very much. Luckily, I found this group shortly after losing my youngest son in 2009. I attended the first retreat Wings of Hope offered. I was met by other parents who had also experienced the pain of losing a child. We laughed, we cried, we talked about our Angels without hesitation. I have life longs friends from that first retreat. When one of us falter there is always another Angel mom or dad to help us find our way & carry on. Together we have honored our children by standing strong for each other & any newly bereaved parent who comes our way!
Melanie Marshall - forever Jess & JJ's mom !!
I joined this group several months ago & went on my first retreat to Virginia Beach with Shirley Tripp-Johnson. Shirley & fellow group members are amazing. I am sincerely grateful for their loving friendship & support.
I joined wings of hope a year ago and so happy I did . I went on my first retreat last week Va Beach , I made friends for a lifetime . Thankful for this group Jennifer Carfrey
I lost my daughter Kelsea Dionna Borzillo September 2, 2013 to a Heroin overdose. I didn’t have anyone to turn to when someone told me about WOH. I went on my first retreat a week ago in Virginia Beach. I met so many wonderful people who I now call my family. I feel like a new beginning has been given to me, they all made me feel normal again. The worst part of the retreat was having to leave knowing I couldn’t bring them all home with me. Thank you all for helping me move forward, love you all!!
None of us want to be a part of this group, but thank goodness this organization exists . Wings of Hope is a group of parents from all walks of life and backgrounds and have one thing in common, the horrific loss of your child. Even though you will not come back healed or less wounded, you will take away new perspectives. Each of us suffer and grieve differently , but what we can learn from each other and the support is tremendous , makes the shared time together an invaluable experience. I have attended two retreats and both were very different and I have learned from others that have helped me survive some of my daily challenges. Many of the attendees and board members stay in touch while not evasive and are truly a supportive and non judgmental family. An organization that is worthy of your support because they truly support others.
I have gone on just one retreat with this group, but would like to go on more. The grief retreats bring together parents who have lost a child, and the activities planned throughout the week help all participants share stories about their child and also offer love and feedback to the other parents. I highly recommend these retreats to any parents of 'angels' who are stuck in their grief and need an outlet to help them in their grief journey.
Every interaction with the people in this group is positive. The parent newly grieving the loss of a child, or for those of us for whom it's further in the past all find comfort and are able to share their grief in constructive and healing ways.
I lost my son on October 9, 2011. I spent my time in a fog not knowing where to turn, who I could talk to. I needed to speak with moms and dads that had also lost a child because only we know the pain and devastation of child loss. I found Wings of Hope. I have been on many retreats and have been in constant contact with group members. We help each other and it all started and continues with Wings of Hope. I highly recommend this nonprofit to any parent or grandparent that has lost a child. They are always there and ready to listen/help. Thank you to Wings of Hope for all that you do for all of us.
I lost my son Adam and found Wings of Hope shortly after. I have been on many retreats sponsored by the wonderful organization and they have helped me tremendously. I highly recommend them to anyone that has lost a child or grandchild.
My daughter was murdered in a home invasion 18 years ago, she and her husband were both shot, she twice in the head, and him 3 x. The father survived, four young men just 19 years old broke in and held the children hostage, 3 little boys, ages six, four and two. I have had many counseling sessions with professionals to cope with the loss and devastation, but not anything compares to having another grieving parent to talk about the loss, you just don't get it, until it happens to you.
Hi my name is Margie I loss my son over 3 yrs and I found WOHLF I believe like over 2 yrs. My first retreat i was scared to go but Renée and Shirley spoke and convince me to go. When I went into felt so much love at the retreat. I'll be going on my fifth retreat in May.
My name is Roberta, I lost my oldest son in May 2017. I was depressed, lonely, really didn't care if I lived or not. While online one day looking for help before I totally lost my mind, I found an online group of people like me!! Grieving and searching for Hope! I found a group called Wings of Hope Living Forward. Through this group, Retreats for just grieving moms and others for couples began. I have attended many of the Retreats and each one was a part of my living forward process. Tragically in March 2015 I lost another son, both boys were in mid 30's. Through the Retreats I had made many lifelong sister friends. I had support that I didn't have before, people to share my feelings with and not be judged. Friends I could laugh with for the first time in a very long time, I could talk about my boys and people cared instead of cringe. I can cry one minute and laugh the next and the moms at the Retreats understand... because they are living the same nightmare! Shirley and Renee do an outstanding job with these Retreats. It is obvious the Retreats are a labor of love, these ladies hearts and souls are put into everything that is done. For me and many others it's a hospital for our grieving hearts.
I lost my oldest son 5/31/2010. Unless you have lost a child you can't fathom our pain. I joined an online grief group and quickly found so many others that shared my pain!
I was privileged to attend the first retreat and meet so many friends I had only chatted with online. The retreats are wonderful, I'm able to share my grief and have so much support. In March 2015 the unthinkable happened, I lost a second child. I had more support from Wings of Hope Living Forward than I did from family and local friends. This organization has helped me to move forward. Yes I love and miss my boys, and will until I see them again. I have learned to release my grief as needed and still live. I have been blessed to attend 5 retreats, one was sponsored by a donor just after my second son died. So many of us have been helped by this wonderful group.
This my daughter Tracie. We lost her February 17, 2013. The pain from our loss is devastating. I knew there were groups for grieving parents. I searched and found WOHLF. Since i joined this wonderful group, i have attended many retreats. I will be attending my 9th one in May of this year. It is so healing to be with other moms that know the deep pain from child loss. When i walked into my first retreat, not knowing but a couple of moms that i had met in person, i felt more comfortable than i ever had in a group situation. We laugh, we cry and we share our pain. The bottle release, butterfly release, candle lighting are all very emotional. But also very healing. The group meetings, mom talks, and just being with others who understand has been a blessing. I'm grateful to have found WOHLF!
My name is Rhonda Sykes, I have been in the WOHLF Family for 3 yrs. I lost my 16yr. Old son Dylan in 2012. This group is amazing! I can honestly say they saved my life, gave me hope and helped me to find a wayto live life without my child. The friendships I have made thru this group will last forever! Thank you WOHLF for all that you do.
This is a wonderful group where we support each other on this horrible journey after losing a child. There are retreats that are affordable for us to go and help each other heal and support each other. A place where we can open our hearts and everyone understands what we are going through. Attached is a picture of my son who I lost on October 2.2006. I am thankful to have all these beautiful moms to help me get through this.
I have gone on retreat with this organization and these wonderful ladies. Made life changing friendships. Losing my daughter has not been easy but being able to speak openly with other women about our children has helped me to move forward along my grief journey.
I just like to say finding this group has been the biggest help with dealing with the loss of my only son. I thought I was going to go crazy because I had no one to share what I was feeling with I tried to reach out to get therapy but I was put on a waiting list and months went by with no contact from them so that made me feel more alone. But here I found out what I was feeling was normal, that there is a process to this journey. This group has made me so much stronger and for that I will always be grateful.
I don't know where I'd be today if had not got involved wirh this group even now as I'm coming up on my 2nd year they are all here for me I don't have money for a retreat but they are with on my journey with text phone calls cards this group is a god send thank you Shirley and Renee
Love the wing of hope retreats with out them and the workers I don't know where I would today thanks
I went to my first retreat in Jan/feb 2017. It was their Pensacola all mom's retreat. I was nervous at first but right away they all became family. I lost my son to suicide over 10 yrs ago. I have been handling my grief alone. It was amazing how much love and support you find at the retreats. It was great to share in discussions and learn from other mom's that know the pain of losing a child. I would suggest going to one of the retreats to any one that is grieving the loss of a child.