Living with Loss Retreats

(Page updated 23 November 2021)

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.

Events are run in a Covid-secure way, according to the current requirements. There is sufficient space in the meeting rooms for the numbers that are permitted to attend.

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

28 February – 4th March 2022 – Coping with Grief – Living with Loss – Shropshire


  • Monday 28 February – Friday 4th March 2022
  • Week retreat (Arrival 3-4 pm on Monday afternoon to Friday mid-morning – 4 nights)
  • Cost: £285 (all rooms ensuite)

There are plenty of places available. We will host up to a maximum of 20 participants.

If you cannot afford the full cost, we have a fund that might be able to contribute. Please get in touch with Abi directly at and we can see if we can offer you a discount.

We are delighted to be running the Living with Loss Part 1 retreat at Cloverley Hall, a spacious property set in its own beautiful grounds in Shropshire. Facilities include an indoor heated swimming pool and a games room. All meals are provided (cooked breakfast, and two courses at lunch and the evening meal) plus snacks, plus retreat materials to take away with you.

This retreat is for anyone aged 18+ who is grieving following the death of a spouse, a child, other loved ones, friends or other significant people, whatever the cause or circumstances.

As with all Living with Loss events, we explore grief and finding the way forward through a variety of led sessions, discussions and activities. There is Christian content and a service of remembrance and hope. There will also be some craft activities. The programme will have enough time in it so that you can also rest, walk and enjoy the facilities that Cloverley Hall offers.

View this event on the Cloverley Hall website

Contact Cloverley Hall to book your place: or 01948 890 688

View or download the draft programme here. It’s subject to change, but at least it will give you a general idea of what to expect:

“Compassionate, loving and well-informed leadership by Abi – and an amazing opportunity to share your grief journey with others, be helped by them, and maybe help others too. … More of God’s people who have been bereaved and who know this overwhelming grief should have access to this kind of oasis.

Retreat participant

21 – 25 March 2022 – LEE ABBEY – Devon


  • 21 – 25 March 2022
  • 5 day retreat in Exmoor, Devon 
  • Costs: £320 (£380 ensuite)

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.

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.)

Lee Abbey is large property set on a 280 acre estate in Exmoor National Park on the West Devon coast. It’s an area of outstanding beauty with woodlands, streams, fields, and a private beach. This retreat will be held in the Main House.

Find out more details and BOOK HERE

Weekend retreats in West Sussex at Penhurst Retreat Centre

9 – 11 September 2022 “Bereaved by Suicide” Living with Loss weekend. Booking and details

16 – 18 September 2022“Coping with Grief” Living with Loss weekend. Booking and details  

There will be a maximum of 7 residential guests at each retreat. It is also possible to attend on a non-residential basis.

Penhurst Retreat Centre is a small, friendly Christian retreat centre. 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. The beauty, peace and comfort of this place create an ideal setting to relax and reflect. Our retreats at this location are small with a maximum of 8 guests. (Some small bursaries are available if you need some support in order to attend.) 

Penhurst Retreat Centre is about 90 minutes from London and 1 hour from Gatwick airport and the M25. The Centre is only seven miles from East Sussex coast (including Hastings and Rye) and the historic town of Battle is four miles away. 

Phone: 01424 892088

Living with Loss week retreat in November 2022 at Lee Abbey

We expect to be returning to Lee Abbey in Devon for another Living with Loss Retreat (Part 1). The date is still to be confirmed but is likely to be in the middle or end of November. This retreat will be followed by another Part 2 Course in July 2023.

14-17 October 2022 – ‘Tearoom Gathering’ at Cloverley Hall

Hearts filled with love – prayers offered – for those who are gone, and for those who are still with us.
  • Arrival 4 pm Friday 14th October, 2022. Departure after lunch Monday 17th October.
  • Cost: £255 (Includes all meals, snacks and retreat materials)

This event is 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 18 places.

All bookings and arrangements for this retreat should go directly through Abi (and not Cloverley Hall). Bookings are now being taken.




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

35 thoughts on “Living with Loss Retreats

  1. Pingback: Grief is not always as painful as it might be right now | A Valley Journal

  2. Pingback: Coping with family conflicts following bereavement | A Valley Journal

  3. Pingback: “I feel so alone in my grief.” – If this is you, read on… | A Valley Journal

  4. Pingback: No chance to say goodbye: Coping after a sudden death | A Valley Journal

  5. Pingback: National Bereaved Parents Day: Keeping our children’s memory alive | A Valley Journal

  6. Pingback: Adjusting to changed circumstances – the easing of lockdown plus life after bereavement | A Valley Journal

  7. Pingback: Face to face with other bereaved people: Book now | A Valley Journal

  8. Pingback: Coping with unexpected or ‘out of order’ deaths | A Valley Journal

  9. Pingback: Coping with grief – supportive retreats in 2021 | A Valley Journal

  10. Pingback: Bereavement support groups exempt from “rule of 6” | A Valley Journal

  11. Pingback: Grief: A Journey Through the Seasons | A Valley Journal

  12. Pingback: The defiant passion of the campaigning bereaved parent | A Valley Journal

  13. Pingback: News, Zoom meetings, training, further reading | A Valley Journal

  14. Pingback: I’m away on pilgrimage until 3rd April | A Valley Journal

  15. Pingback: The defiant passion of the bereaved parent | A Valley Journal

  16. Pingback: Cover article from Lee Abbey Magazine: Grief, a Journey Through the Seasons | A Valley Journal

  17. Pingback: LIVING WITH LOSS RETREAT PART 2: 6th to 8th September 2019 | Our Lady & St Joseph

  18. Pingback: Families fractured by grief: differences and difficulties | A Valley Journal

  19. Pingback: LIVING WITH LOSS RETREAT PART 2: 6th to 8th September 2019 | Our Lady & St Joseph

  20. Pingback: Summer 2019: 62 km photo-story & other news | A Valley Journal

  21. Pingback: The unique pain of child bereavement: Readings for parents (Site Guide No. 3) | A Valley Journal

  22. Pingback: Our next two retreats: “Living with loss following bereavement” | A Valley Journal

  23. Pingback: Responses from “Living with Loss” retreat participants | A Valley Journal

  24. Pingback: A quick update | A Valley Journal

  25. Pingback: Judgement, criticism and grief | A Valley Journal

  26. Pingback: Finding companionship in grief | A Valley Journal

  27. Pingback: Grief Companion

  28. Pingback: Tickling the tomatoes; families and grief. | A Valley Journal

  29. Pingback: Childswickham, here we come | A Valley Journal

  30. Pingback: Sent into a tailspin, finding equilibrium: Coping with other people’s responses to our grief. | A Valley Journal

  31. Pingback: 2017 news and 2018 updates | A Valley Journal

  32. Pingback: One step at a time; life and grief after the loss of a partner. | A Valley Journal

  33. Pingback: The uniqueness of each grief experience | A Valley Journal

  34. Pingback: The faith of grief | A Valley Journal

  35. Pingback: Over the line – the grief companion marathon | A Valley Journal

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.