Living with Loss Retreats

(Page updated 20 May 2022)

If you’re looking for a safe space to explore your grief in the company of others who are also grieving, then you may find it helpful to come to one of our Living with Loss Retreats. Most retreats are small with around 6 – 18 participants.

These are gentle events for people who are struggling with grief following bereavement. Each retreat includes a variety of activities, with led sessions, moderated discussions, craft activities and free time for personal reflection, reading or going for a walk. There is a simple service of remembrance that is a highlight for many of the participants.

During our time together, we explore some of the emotional and practical challenges of grief, and then look at ways of making the best of life as it is now. The retreat is an opportunity for companionship among others who are also grieving, which might be particularly important at this time if you have been isolated due to the pandemic. The goal is to walk away with a bit more hope that “yes, I can do it” as you continue on with your life’s journey.

The retreats are suitable for adults age 21 and over. You are welcome whatever your relationship – whether the one(s) who died was your spouse or partner, your child of any age, your parent, sibling, close friend, or if you have suffered multiple losses. Those who have lost loved ones during the pandemic – either through Covid-19 or from other causes – are most welcome.

Those attending will have lost loved ones in different circumstances. Some deaths might have followed a long illness or it could have been a sudden event, such as an unforeseen health emergency, an accident or suicide. We occasionally run retreats for specific types of bereavement such as suicide – see the list below for details.

All of our retreats have some gentle Christian spiritual content, including short reflections. Those of all faiths and none are welcome, provided you are comfortable with this type of content.

Retreats are residential and full board, with all meals and snacks provided, plus retreat materials to take away with you. Workshops are day events.

Weekend retreats have a fuller schedule; week retreats are more relaxed. Booking is through the retreat centre (unless otherwise noted). The price is fixed by each retreat centre.

Thanks to a recent donation, our bursary fund has been replenished. If you would like to come to a retreat but need financial help to do so, please get in touch with me.

Keep reading below or follow the links to find out more details. You are welcome to contact me with any questions.

If you would like to attend a retreat and don’t see one on the programme that suits you, please fill in this form to register your interest. (It should only take about 2 minutes). This is without obligation. I also run Zoom groups online.

The Living with Loss project is a member of the National Bereavement Alliance. We’ve been running Living with Loss retreats since 2016.


“A Living with Loss retreat is a safe place to talk about your grief and your loss, where everyone is accepted and welcomed and allowed to be themselves. … These retreats offer gentle support to encourage you to keep on living.”

Retreat participant

Weekend retreats in West Sussex at Penhurst Retreat Centre

Our retreats at the comfortable Penhurst Retreat Centre are always small, with usually a maximum of around 8 participants. It’s a beautiful property set in lovely countryside with good walks on the doorstep. It’s possible to reach Penhurst by train to Battle and then taking a taxi.

This 17th Century Jacobean Manor House is situated in the heart of an “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty” in the High Weald at Penhurst, East Sussex, next door to the beautifully restored 14th Century church. The retreat centre provides a haven of tranquility in an historic setting, yet it is only 90 minutes from London and 1 hour from Gatwick airport and the M25

Both of these events are ideal for those who are recently bereaved or who have struggled with their grief for a long time.

9 – 11 September 2022 – “Bereaved by Suicide” Living with Loss weekend

  • Friday 9th September, 15:00 – Sunday 11th September, 14:00
  • Residential Price: £ 255.00 per person
  • Non-Residential Price: £ 155.00 per person

A small retreat with a maximum of 8 participants.

Life can be a struggle following the loss of a loved one or friend, and it is widely acknowledged that death by suicide can be one of the most difficult bereavements to cope with. This supportive Living with Loss retreat is for those who are grieving the loss of a family member, partner or close friend as a result of suicide. This may have been a long time ago or it may have been recent.

During the Retreat we will look at the life-changing journey through grief, including some gentle Christian perspectives, acknowledging with sensitivity the mixture of feelings and questions that you may be facing, and then exploring how to find the way forward in the changed circumstances of your life.

Please note that we will not be discussing methods of suicide or details that could add to your existing distress.

Booking and details

16 – 18 September 2022 – “Coping with Grief” Living with Loss weekend

  • Friday 16th September, 15:00 – Sunday 18th September, 14:00
  • Residential Price: £ 255.00 per person
  • Non-Residential Price: £ 155.00 per person

This retreat is suitable for adults age 18 and over, whatever of the circumstances of your bereavement (sudden death, following illness, or during the pandemic) and whatever the relationship, including those who have lost spouses or partners; parents who have lost children; those who have lost parents, siblings or close friends; or those who have suffered multiple losses. Maximum of 8 participants.

(This retreat is not a follow-on and is not meant to be attended by those who come to the `Bereaved by Suicide` retreat on the previous weekend. The intention is that people attend one retreat or the other, not both.

Booking and details  

Phone: 01424 892088


17-20 October 2022 – ‘Tearoom Gathering’ at Cloverley Hall

Please note the change of date! (originally 14-17 October)

Hearts filled with love – prayers offered – for those who are gone, and for those who are still with us.
  • Arrival 4 pm Monday 17th October, 2022. Departure after lunch Thursday 20th October.
  • Cost: £255 (Includes all meals, snacks and retreat materials)

This event is a follow on, and only for those who have already been to a Living with Loss retreat

The theme is ‘The Changing of Seasons.’ There will be plenty of opportunities during the retreat to interact, try out crafts and go for walks. There are a maximum of 30 places. (Ensuite rooms are on a ‘first come first served’ basis and are all reserved.)

All bookings and arrangements for this retreat should go directly through Abi (and not Cloverley Hall).

Find out more here, including booking form to be downloaded: Gathering 2022: “The changing of seasons” – Living With Loss Events (

This event will be repeated – with a different theme but the same location – from 4-8 September 2023 (5 days, 4 nights). The plan includes at least one day’s walking in Wales (optional – other activities available for the less mobile) and a visit to Pontcysycllte Aqueduct. Details, booking and price for this event to be announced later.

14-18 November 2022 – Lee Abbey, Devon – “Living with Loss”

Lee Abbey set in its grounds, with the sea and beautiful coastal views ahead. It takes about 10 minutes to walk down to the sheltered beach. The property has a well resourced library, quiet spaces to relax in, lawn games to play, 288 acres of our estate to explore, the wild north Devon coastline and the South West coastal path (literally on the doorstep).
  • Arrival 4 pm Monday 14th November . Departure after breakfast Friday 18th November.
  • Cost: £225 (Includes all meals, snacks and retreat materials to take away with you)

A supportive week retreat of activities, led sessions, discussions and quiet reflection. This “Living with Loss Part 1” retreat is for anyone struggling to cope with grief following bereavement from any cause. This retreat is suitable for those who have been bereaved of husbands or wives, partners, children, close family members or friends, or multiple people. It is open to anybody 21 or over. Please note that the retreat will be held in the Beacon Centre at Lee Abbey, not in the main house. Up to 18 participants.

This is Living with Loss Part 1. See below for the follow on Part 2 course in July 2023.

Details and booking here

Contact Lee Abbey by email or phone 01598 752621.

We hold this retreat in the Beacon Centre. This has meeting rooms and facilities. The rooms are simple “youth hostel” style but warm and perfectly adequate. And of course, you will have your own room unless you choose to share. We will be the only group using the centre

24-28 July 2023 – Lee Abbey, Devon – “Living with Loss Part 2”

  • 5 day retreat in Exmoor, Devon 
  • Costs to be confirmed – possibly around £225

This is the second in a series of supported retreats for those coping with life-changing loss following bereavement, and is again a gentle environment in which to explore grief in the company of others. We will continue themes from the first retreat, including understanding grief and the mosaic of life, and delve further into what could be obstacles to our journey forward, looking at topics such as guilt and anger. There will be a range of activities, led sessions, discussions, crafts, and times of reflection and remembrance.

The retreat will be held in the Beacon Centre, not the main house.

Please note that this retreat is a follow-up and only open to those who have already attended a Living with Loss retreat led by Abi May. (You could have attended a retreat or workshop anywhere in the country, not necessarily at Lee Abbey.)

Booking is not yet open for this retreat – you can register your interest by calling Lee Abbey or writing to Abi.


Our Living with Loss team will be taking some time away during 2023. We will run a few retreats, but not as many as we have each year until now.

Living with Loss Retreat Part 1

  • 13-15 January: Living with Loss Part 1 at Launde Abbey, Leicestershire. (Weekend retreat)
  • 13-17 March: Living with Loss Part 1 at Cloverley Hall, Shropshire (Mon-Friday)
  • November (date to be confirmed) – Living with Loss Part 1 retreat at Lee Abbey (Mon-Friday)

Follow on events

  • 24-28 July – Living the Loss Part 2 at Lee Abbey (see above)
  • 4-8 September – “Tearoom Gathering Retreat” – at Cloverley Hall, Shropshire

Further details coming soon. (Drop me a line if you’d like information about any of these events – livingwithloss XXX@XX btinternetXcom (Ignore XXX – they’re meant to confuse the spam bots)



Grief following bereavement can feel overwhelming, particularly if you have lost a partner or child, or if your loved one’s passing was sudden or traumatic, or if you have suffered multiple losses. The aim of our retreats is to help you feel better equipped to deal with your life-changing loss. We explore some of the spiritual, emotional and practical challenges of grief, and then look at ways to cope with life as it is now. There is some Christian content, but this is about life in the present rather than the life beyond.

The topics we cover (depending on the duration of the retreat and the needs of the participants) include:

  • Understanding grief, the physical, practical and emotional impact of loss, and a Christian perspective on grief.
  • Living with loss, models of recovery, complicated grief, crises of faith, dealing with our emotions.
  • Honouring the memories of our loved ones, reflective activities, digital legacy.
  • Survival strategies for our life today, being kind to ourselves, getting through difficult times.

There are 2-3 led sessions every day. Sessions include a range of activities including discussions and personal reflection. There are other relaxed sessions with craft and music, plus a candlelighting remembrance service.

Besides the led sessions, there is time for personal reflection, handouts to work on individually, as well as the opportunity for participants to have a chat and/or prayer with retreat leaders if you wish. A selection of relevant books are made available to read during the retreat.



This post from our retreat at Launde Abbey in February 2018 gives a fairly good idea.


It wasn’t what I thought it would be – it was BETTER.

The sessions were very helpful and gave me hope.

“I thought Abi led the sessions with sensitivity and compassion. It was obvious she had ‘been there’. I liked how she shared her story.

The sessions were well researched, delivered and well paced.

This was a first class retreat which I found extremely helpful. I will definitely do part 2.

A bit of crafting – with a focus on process rather than product.

The view from our meeting room at Lee Abbey. Spectacular!
Candlelighting remembrance and prayer
The reason for these cups becomes evident during the retreat

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