Return to Zero Retreat Testimonials
2016 Australia Women's Retreat
"Attending the retreat has been the best gift I could ever give myself. Although i was anxious to leave my daughter and terrified of being alone in my grief without the support of my family it didn't take long before I felt the support of my new family. All the women who totally 'get it'. The women who dared to share their heartache and be vulnerable in the hope to find some peace. I can honestly say I left the retreat with strength, peace and so much love in my heart. It reaffirmed the love and eternal connection I have with my son even after death. A new way to love and honour the boy he was and how honoured I feel to have been his mother." - Laura
"The time I spent at the retreat and the memories I have is something that will stay with me always. The experience allowed me to honor and cherish my baby in a way that was so beneficial to my healing journey. I felt so loved supported and nurtured at the retreat. It is such a uniquely amazing experience that no words can really describe the benefits that it has not only to your healing but to also the way you love and care for yourself." - Terry-Ann
"I live in a rural isolated area and was wondering if everything I would learn at the retreat could be done online at home by myself - this is true but it would have taken me years to find and learn what I found at the retreat in 5 days. Deciding to take a leap of faith into the unknown was the best thing I could have done for myself. These 'strangers' made me feel like I belonged, I felt as if I were in a safe place filled with love and everyone could relate to what I was going through. For the first time in so long I felt peace, calm and clarity. I left the retreat with a beautiful sense of connection to my daughter (which I was not expecting), amazing, supportive new friends and tools to help me cope back in the 'real world'. The toughest part was saying goodbye and going home. " - Bree
"I can honestly say that attending the retreat was one of the best things I have done for myself, my grief, my daughter, and my family. The love and the warmth with which this retreat is delivered makes you feel safe, loved, and cared for right from the beginning. It is irrelevant how far along you are in your grief journey, you are respected, accepted, and understood. The sense of myself, and getting to know myself again, that I got out of this retreat will be with me always. The sense of community and caring love I received, and now have, for the 25 other women whom I met will also stay with me forever." - Elizabeth
"Attending this retreat has been by far the most amazing thing I have ever done for myself and was completely life changing. My losses were 8 and 9 years ago and I worried whether it was even appropriate for me to attend but I knew I was struggling with myself and decided to go. I had nothing to worry about. There were beautiful women in all stages of the grief journey and we all learnt so much from each other. I learnt so much about myself and most importantly the tools to make change in my life and how to really connect with my Angels." - Louise
RTZ 2015 Seattle Women's Retreat
"As someone who traveled from Florida to Seattle for the last retreat, do not let the travel stop you. Find a way, do not wait, get to the next retreat for your next steps in healing. It was better than 4 years of therapy."
Boca Raton, FL
"This experience is sensational, inspirational, and transformational."
Fort Collins, CO
" What I gained is worth far more than what money can ever buy."
I attended the RTZ retreat just over a year after my daughter's stillbirth. I was nervous to attend the retreat and be vulnerable in a big group. I was hoping to make personal connections but was nervous I might not. What a treat when I showed up and immediately realized neither of these things would be an issue. First, Ivy, Kiley and Carly set such a healthy and healing tone for the retreat. Everyone was welcomed and respected from the get-go. Second, it was the most amazing, graceful group of women and everyone supported one another in the most beautiful ways. Attendees were all ages, at all stages of grief, with all kinds of baby loss. But everyone was accepted and loved up, as we all needed to be. What a relief to hear other women share that the same dark and difficult thoughts I sometimes had were in their heads too. This created instant bonds and, for me, helped me release those thoughts, understanding that they're just a normal part of the grief process.
Healing was the top priority and the space, the food and the activities all supported this mission. I was so impressed with how thoughtful Kiley, Ivy and Carly were with the activities they created for us and the space they designed to keep us all feeling safe. I cannot recommend this retreat enough to anyone who has lost a child, no matter your place in your grief. It was truly magical and helped me leave those feelings of isolation behind.
San Diego, CA
I was blessed enough to partake in this wonderful healing retreat this past weekend. Before I left, I had major anxiety about the fears that I had inside. The fears of being the youngest, being the only one without living children, finding a connection and bond, etc. But all of those fears were squashed the moment the retreat began. I feel a connection with these women that is really hard to explain. Many people now do not understand me or my journey. But I have finally felt comforted, validated, and listened to. My soul feels connected to my sons in a way I never thought I would feel again. I was reminded that my children were here, are important, and have touched so many lives in a positive way. I have learned that it's ok to cry and mourn for my boys. I DO NOT need to hide it. I have learned to say "no" when I feel overwhelmed and scared. I do not need to worry about others feeling uncomfortable.. I have lived the most uncomfortable days of my life and worrying how I make others feel regarding my grief is no longer important. I want to live my life with love and gratitude for what I have been given...my beautiful husband, family, friends...most importantly I am grateful for Johan and Gabe.. They complete me and make me a mother. I know now it's ok.
Los Angeles, CA
I just came home after attending the RTZ Retreat on Whidbey Island, WA. Before arriving, I was nervous and anxious about how the retreat would unfold. However, what transpired within the first 24 hours was amazing. We learned we had all been a bit scared to do this and we bonded fast over our stories! After our sacred time together, I now feel like I have 30 new best friends in the pregnancy loss community. My inner-light is brighter, I feel more peace and relaxation about my grief/loss and I have much more love for myself. Kudos to Kiley, Ivy, and Carly for creating a beautiful space where we could come be ourselves, and be loved (us and our babies) just the way we are. I highly recommend this for anyone looking for healing and respite after loss.
It's been a few days since I've returned from the RTZ 2015 Healing Retreat on Whidbey Island, and I am still feeling energized from it. Before arriving at the retreat center, I was nervous about not really connecting with anyone there. Those fears started to fade at the airport where I met some of the women, and then completely disappeared when we were all together. The space was absolutely incredible, incredibly supportive of this healing work. I really liked the diversity of attendees - there was a huge spectrum of experiences, age, time since loss, etc. I made some really deep connections. The schedule was beautifully planned - and we honored our babies, ourselves, and each other in so many wonderful ways. Kiley, Ivy, and Carly were amazing leaders who had clearly very carefully planned this retreat, and were flexible enough to make changes that were best for the group - to spend more time on an activity, etc.
I can honestly say that this experience has helped me to heal in a way that is full of intention. My inner light is brighter, my heart is fuller, and support system is larger. I would recommend this retreat to anyone that has lost a baby. You will be welcomed, embraced, and loved - and you will learn to love yourself again. You will leave the retreat with a whole new 'herd' of friends who truly understand, who love you, and who will be there for you in the future. I can't wait for the reunion!
Last week I had the amazing opportunity to attend the retreat on Whidbey Island, WA. Some of you may think it's strange to travel all the way to Seattle to hang out with a group of strangers and talk about your dead babies. However, for me this experience was life changing! To be surrounded by women who weren't afraid to speak my babies names, to ask me about my journey through this thing we call grief, to look at my babies photos and other memorabilia without complete horror and to know and to absolutely understand what it feels like to have a baby die, was not only a phenomenal experience, but was truly life altering! I not only made some like long connections with some beautiful women, but I also left feeling a stronger sense of myself, as a woman, as a mother and as a wife. My faith has been strengthened, mygratitude increased! Since the death of our four babies, "I am a different person, living a different life", however, that person and that life can be Extraordinary!
RTZ 2015 Australia Women's Retreat
We need to invent a new adjective. One that incorporates "beautiful" and "amazing" and "life-changing." When my friends and family ask me how the retreat was, I can only answer, "good," because I haven't found the right word yet.
How do you find the words to describe 30 women - mostly strangers - coming together for a weekend, all looking for a sense of community and a connection with their child but leaving with so much more. The grounding, the emergence of self, the reminder that we are all beautiful, strong, resilient...I don't know how to write about the retreat yet because I don't yet understand all the ways it changed me.
I left the retreat with 30 new best friends - women I can call on whenever I need - women who will rush to my side to lift me up and support me. I left the retreat with a peace and love for myself I hadn't even realized was missing. I did not understand how much tension I carried surrounding my dead child until I finally felt the safety to let it go. Kiley created a safe space where we could remember our babies without fear of making anyone else uncomfortable. We could show pictures and feel confident that their small faces would be greeted with "oohs" and "ahs," and "how beautiful." Nobody was going to think I was weird for wanting to remember my son, and these beautiful women were going to celebrate him alongside me and allow me to celebrate their children with them. There is power in surrounding yourself with others who understand your pain, with whom you feel no need to apologize for your grief. I am bonded with these women for life.
We were beautifully cared for by the facilitators and the retreat center staff. Once you removed the distractions of work, relationships, living children, etc. and can make real space for your grief in a loving, supporting group, beautiful things will happen. You open yourself up to new understanding and possibilities. You reveal parts of yourself that you have kept locked away or have felt out of reach. I met women who remembered how funny they are and women who found the voices they had silenced years ago. I met women who relearned how to build friendships and communicate their needs. I met women who found the courage to face and conquer hard truths in their lives. I began to understand how much I need to feel in control and started to learn how to let it go. I know these lessons and discoveries are going to help us lead richer, more authentic lives.
Beyond the spa and magnesium pool and the healthful foods, beyond the lush greenery and the beauty of the land, I found myself. An even better version of myself - one who is strong and soft, proud and humble, who loves and supports and allows herself to be loved and supported. I don't yet know what else to say - we need to invent a new adjective.
What a wonderful way to both heal and connect with our babies. I'm so glad I made the decision to attend the RTZ Retreat as it has given me the opportunity to meet some incredible, amazing & strong women and to realize I'm not alone in my grief. I've come away feeling more positive for my future and more connected to my baby. This has been a turning point in my healing journey - my feelings have been validated & I've learnt that I am worth it all!
I attended the retreat to reconnect with my story and my babies. I felt after just over 5 years and losing two babies, that my survival instincts had taken over and caused me to disassociate with my own experiences which made me incredibly sad. Despite actively participating in the babyloss community I felt at times that I had imagined the whole thing. That my babies no longer mattered to anyone but me. What I took from the retreat was so much more than I ever could have imagined. I reconnected to my story and I found my babies hidden in my heart. I found ways to include them in everyday life which makes me feel more at ease with myself. I found a community of women who get it and formed deep and lasting friendships. The workshops equipped me with tools to adjust to a new normal, recognise my self worth and ways to build resilience to the everyday struggles we as bereaved mothers face. I found the part of myself that died with my babies and I'm learning to bring her back.
I really didn't know what to expect on the retreat. I was hoping for a life changing experience, and that is exactly what I received. My fears of not being worthy or not included by the group, where absolutely smashed within the first 12 hours, as I was embraced for who I am. The skills I have taken home in relation to self care, and grief are priceless. Thank you Kiley, Ivy & Carly for helping me change my outlook on life. Thank you for facilitating the formation of lifelong friendships. I would highly recommend this experience to all bereaved mums.
I can't overstate how glad I am to have attended the Return to Zero Retreat in Australia, two years after our son was born still. I admit that I was nervous about it, I didn't know what to expect and I wasn't sure how I would feel being there. Would I feel guilty for being away from my family? Would the experience be too painful? Would remembering my baby and talking about his death make me miserable all over again? These fears melted away almost as soon as I arrived at the retreat. Quite literally, I put them in a bottle and set them free. I felt completely safe, loved, and respected by the incredible mothers who gathered together to grieve, discuss, cry, create, laugh, care for ourselves, and honor our children. I am still processing all that I experienced. It's difficult to adequately describe the peace I felt and continue to feel after taking this important journey.
North Carolina, USA
Return to zero is a place, a starting point, before anything really happened. It's the prologue. Being at zero is being in that place before what happened, happens. It's prior to the start of something. The zero is the common line between 'here' and 'there', with the 'there' not being a place anyone enlists to. But nevertheless it is a starting point. Zero is a circle, a continual state of being, with no beginning and no end. A circle is something that has always been. It's proportionate, smooth, constant. It symbolises a cycle. It symbolises the circle of life. Returning to Zero is taking a step back, in time, to where 'it' all began. To the beginning and to the end all at the same time. The beginning of our dreams, the beginning of the shattering, the beginning of the end, to the pointy end of what we are dealing with. The beginning of a constant painful reminder of what was the past, what has been lost, what will forever more be without. The beginning of the end of our life, ourselves, our sanity, our laughter, our joy. But never our love.
Never our love because the end is simply another beginning. Like the circle with no starting place and no finishing point. The end can provide solace, reflection, cleansing and
a fresh start, of healing, of nurturing, of like minded and experienced people who quickly become life long friends, the beginning of the new beginning. Return to zero is all this and so much more. Return to zero is an opportunity to be, to love, to acknowledge, to remember, to tell our stories and listen to others, to find familiarity in our life where normal up to this point has seemed impossible. To find clarity where there was once fog, to find courage to call a ceasefire to our ever bereft souls, to find peace in moments and to grow strong in the midst of a soul destroying nightmare.
I recently attended a retreat by this name. I went to that place, to the before, to the after, to the dream and to the nightmare. And there I visited a place within me, a place I thought had vanished forever, never to be seen again. And I experienced stories and friendships, struggles and comfort, emotions that drove me to the heights and back again. I shared pain and grief, carried others and allowed others to carry me. I woke from my nightmare, if only briefly, to discover joy. I woke from my nightmare to the knowing that in being able to experience a nightmare one must also be aware of the dreams, the softness, the compassion, the empathy, the love. Because the two go hand in hand. Return to Zero is a place where you find yourself, not again, but anew.
RTZ 2014 Vemont Women's Healing Retreat
It is hard to put into words how healing and special the Return to Zero Retreat was. It is a place for women who are at any stage of grief for pregnancy or infant loss. I went and am 16 years removed from my loss and was nervous that I would be too far away from it, and to my relief it was perfect. What I learned from the amazing young women there, I will never forget. I was able to help some see the hope in the future and that it won’t always be as sad as it is today. There is life beyond infant loss, it’s not the same life it was before the loss but it can even be a better life. I now have 25 special new friends that I will carry in my heart forever.
The RTZ retreat is a necessary resource for mothers who feel out of place in their larger communities. It is a reassurance that the emotions we are feeling are vital. It is a safe place to express these feelings and for once feel like we do belong somewhere. I am full of gratitude to have participated in this experience and to make connections that validate our children and the women we have become via them. Thank you.
What a beautiful thing to be surrounded by women who understand the grief you feel for your baby’s death, and at the same time the joy you feel for your baby’s life. To share our stories, celebrate our children, and build friendships with other loss mothers was an amazing experience. I left feeling connected to myself, my babies, and to this new community of mothers. I was re-energized to live my life at home as I want to live it, and know that I now have the support system to help me achieve that. I couldn’t be more appreciative to have been a part of this special weekend.
The RTZ retreat far exceeded my expectations and has helped me in my healing journey perhaps more than all the other modalities I’ve used combined. It was an amazing opportunity to be present with other women who understand. We were encouraged to talk about our experience, remember our babies, discuss our ups and downs, and given an opportunity to try concrete techniques to help us heal and an instant community with which to share going forward. The opportunity to be connected with nature, hike, swim, ride horses, take part in yoga, meditation, and especially for me to explore and reconnect with my playful-self during yoga on horseback was life-changing. I remembered parts of myself that I thought were gone forever. I feel passion again and a sense of beginning to thrive and not just survive and this is priceless!
The retreat marked a major turning for me. I finally feel like I'm coming out from under the dark cloud I've been under since we lost out daughter last year. I learned so much about what I have been going through from truly knowledgable women in all stages of the recovery process, and loving professionals who really care. In their safe company I was able to feel and deal with so many emotions I hadn't been allowing to rise to the surface until then. I am so grateful for the connections formed with other women, and also the connection to my daughter that deepened over the course of the retreat. These connections have stayed with me in a lasting way. I am endlessly grateful for the brave women who showed up in Stowe, and for the willingness to be a part of such a healing effort.