(Page updated 9/2/18)
LIVING WITH LOSS RETREATS
Led by Abi May
If you’re looking for a safe space to explore your grief, then you may find it helpful to come to one of the Living with Loss Retreats that I am leading.
These are gentle retreats for people of all ages who have suffered loss through bereavement. They are faith-based from a Christian perspective, but not theological. The goal is finding courage and hope as we continue our life’s journey.
The retreats are suitable for widows and widowers, bereaved parents and siblings, those who have lost parents or close family members, or those who have suffered multiple losses. Most retreats are small with around 9 – 15 participants.
The content of each retreat follows the same theme, but differs slightly according to the duration, and the interests and needs of those who attend.
There are two different retreats listed below: Living with Loss, and Living with Loss Part 2, only open to those who have already attended a Living with Loss retreat.
If you are unsure whether a retreat like this is for you, then I invite you to contact me and/or keep reading below, as well as follow the links, to find out more details. If you do get in touch, I’ll be happy to call you back and tell you more about it and answer any specific questions you might have.
Places are limited and the last retreat was fully booked, so if this is something that interests you, I’d recommend you don’t leave it too long.
Please note that some of the links below are not working as I await the updated programmes from the venues.
Mon 19 Feb 2018 – Fri 23 Feb 2018
5 Day retreat in the East Midlands
Price: £385.00 – £405.00
Launde Abbey is a Christian Retreat House and Conference Centre in the East Midlands. Set in beautiful parkland of 450 acres on the borders of Leicestershire and Rutland, the Abbey has 39 en-suite bedrooms which can accommodate up to 78 people; full conference facilities; comprehensive dining facilities; extensive cultivated gardens and a wonderful twelfth century Chapel (part of the original Augustinian priory).
Phone: 01572 717254
This retreat is scheduled to run again on 18-22 February 2019.
THE HOUSE OF THE OPEN DOOR
Tuesday 22 – Friday 25 May 2018
4 day retreat in the Cotswolds.
“Living with Loss Part 2: The Journey Onwards”
Price: £250 (Discount of £30 for each of those sharing a room)
This retreat is only open to those who have already participated in a “Living with Loss” retreat and will be a small event, with up to 9 participants only. There will be a flexible programme exploring ongoing issues related to loss. Download details here: LivingWithLossPart2.Details
The House of the Open Door is an ecumenical Christian Community and Retreat Centre in the Cotswolds, a beautiful 17th Century property set in quiet countryside.
Please contact Abi directly to enquire or make bookings for this retreat: firstname.lastname@example.org. Downloadable booking form: LivingWithLossPart2.Booking
THE BRIERY RETREAT & CONFERENCE CENTRE
The Briery Retreat and Conference Centre is in a beautiful location in Ilkley, in the Yorkshire Moors. (The Centre is run by Catholic sisters, however the retreat is a non-denominational event and Abi is not a Catholic.)
Friday 27 – Sunday 29 July 2018
WEEKEND RETREAT (Friday late afternoon-Sunday afternoon) in Ilkley, Yorkshire
Friday 7 – Sunday 9 September 2018
WEEKEND RETREAT (Friday late afternoon-Sunday afternoon)
“Living with Loss Part 2: The Journey Onwards”
This retreat is only open to those who have attending a first “Living with Loss” retreat, either at the Briery or elsewhere. It is a smaller event (maximum 9 participants) with a flexible programme, delving into some of the deeper areas of grief such as anger, guilt, regret and complicated grief.
Monday 12 – Friday 16 November 2018 (to be confirmed)
5 DAY RETREAT IN EXMOOR, DEVON
This course is recommended for those who will have been bereaved for at least 4 months by the time of the retreat, and are struggling with loss following bereavement.
Price: £270-£330 (some discounts available)
Lee Abbey is set on a 280 acre estate in Exmoor National Park on the West Devon coast. The estate includes woodlands, streams, fields, and a private beach. Lee Abbey is a vibrant busy place, with lots going on besides our retreat. In order to have peace and quiet, we will be housed and running the retreat in a separate building away from the main house.
MORE DETAILS ABOUT THE CONTENT OF THE RETREATS
Grief following bereavement can feel overwhelming, particularly if we have lost a partner or child, or if our loved one’s passing was sudden or traumatic, or if we have suffered multiple losses. The aim of this supported retreat is to better equip us to deal with our life-changing loss. We will face up to some of the spiritual, emotional and practical challenges of our grief, and then look at practical and creative ways to cope with our life as it is now, as well as the courage that our faith can give us as we go forward in our lives.
The focus of our retreats is on making the best of our life in the present. We have one or two led sessions every day. These include explanations, reflection prompts, creative activities, discussions, times of reflection and prayer, and listening to music or inspirational readings.
Besides the led sessions, there is time for personal reflection, handouts to work on individually, as well as the opportunity for participants to have individual prayer with retreat leaders if you wish. A selection of relevant books are made available to read during the retreat.
The topics we will 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.
IS THIS RETREAT SUITABLE FOR ME?
Generally, we recommend that by the time of the retreat, it will have been at least six months since your bereavement, although this is not a hard and fast rule.
There is no upward limit; a loss from even decades ago isn’t a barrier.
It is natural to feel nervous before attending a retreat on such personal topics. Please be assured that your privacy will be respected, and all activities are voluntary. If you’d rather step out of the room or skip a session, you are most welcome.
HOW RELIGIOUS IS THIS?
There are Christian elements to the retreat but it is gentle. There are some Bible-based readings and reflection activities but it is low-key. There is an assumption that the participants identify as Christian, whether or not they are churchgoers. We take a non-denominational approach.
If you take a look at my book “A Valley Journal” or browse through my blog at www.avalleyjournal.co.uk, you will be able to catch the tone of the retreat: there is a thread of Christianity throughout, but the focus is on the practical and emotional aspects of our life being lived in the present.
WILL I BE THE ONLY ONE WHO…?
Everyone is different and we all have unique life stories, losses and current circumstances. At the same time, one of the benefits of an event such as this is discovering we are not completely alone in how we are feeling. The details of our own lives may be different, but as we meet and talk with other people, we discover we have more in common than we expected. It is common to form lasting friendships during our time together.
WHAT IS THE MOOD OF THE RETREAT? ALL TEARS?
As it says in Eccelesiastes, there is a time for everything, a time to mourn and a time to weep, but also a time to laugh… Tears are not uncommon as we explore the sadness of our loss, but we also try to approach some subjects in a lighter way. Not every activity is serious and not everything we do is deep and meaningful. Life is a mixed bag of emotions and experiences, and so are our retreats.
I’M LIVING WITH LOSS! BUT NOT THROUGH BEREAVEMENT. CAN I COME TO THIS RETREAT?
There are so many kinds of losses – such as life-changing injuries or illnesses, loss of home or livelihood, loss of relationships – and these might be part of our life’s journey alongside bereavement. Although we take these other losses into account during our retreats, the focus is primarily on loss through bereavement .
COMMENTS FROM PREVIOUS PARTICIPANTS
“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.”
A bit of crafting – with a focus on process rather than product.