Portland Mercury’s True Parent Magazine published an article I wrote reflecting on my journey through grief to the creation of ‘Ohana Oasis.
The Journey to ’Ohana
How One Grieving Mother Followed Her Vision to Help Other Parents
by Heidi Low
Boise, Idaho NBC affiliate, KTVB featured ‘Ohana Oasis after the first retreat in 2015. You can view the story here. OR read it below.
BOISE – Heidi Low knows the pain of losing a child all too well. Her little girl, Alison, died after a courageous battle against a brain tumor when she was just 5 years old.
11 years later, the former Boisean is helping other grieving parents heal in the most picturesque of settings – a Hawaiian oasis.
“You never get over the loss of a child, it’s devastating, a parent expects their child to outlive them,” said Heidi.
After her own heartbreaking loss, Heidi came up with an idea for other parents just like her.
“[I] really just wanted to create a safe place for parents who are grieving the loss of a child – to rediscover joy, peace, happiness and be able to heal,” she said. “If I could do anything what would it be. It would be living on an island providing this oasis for parents.”
Heidi’s island dream started in Boise with a fundraiser last summer called Ladybug Luau.
“It’s been a lot of fundraising, building of a board, raising awareness, reaching out to people and then establishing a presence in Kauai to have local support,” she said.
Heidi moved to Kauai in 2014, and Ohana Oasis was born. This past spring was the very first retreat for grieving parents.
Three couples took part, including Matthew and Cindy Moretti of Middleton. Their son, Anthony, lost his battle with brain cancer in June of 2014. The pain is still raw.
“I think sometimes people don’t want to ask, because they don’t know how to react,” Cindy said. “And I understand that because I don’t know how to react all the time.”
Ohana Oasis was something the Morettis say they desperately needed.
“We could just discuss our children with each other,” said Cindy. “One moment crying and the other moment laughing together.”
“It’s nice to have that safe environment to be able to help one another heal,” added Matthew.
Each day of the retreat was dedicated in some way to grieving and celebrating their child.
“The final day, we went out in an outrigger canoe,” said Heidi. “There are leaves that are this big that you can write on. They wrote a message on how their child blessed them. Then released that and flowers out into the bay. It was really magical and powerful.”
Heidi says Ohana Oasis is so much more than just a retreat.
“It’s really about a safe place for parents to come and rediscover joy,” she said.
Heidi has several couples on the waiting list for future retreats, but she needs donations to make it possible.