“Living with Loss” retreats are designed to support those who are struggling with loss through bereavement.
Details about 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 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 hope that Jesus offers for our journey forwards.
We usually 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 they wish. A selection of relevant books will be made available to read during the retreat.
Each retreat is slightly different, depending on the numbers attending and any particular issues that arise. We sometimes do some crafting such as wet felting, or have a group walk together, and sometimes there is an appropriate film to watch.
All activities during the retreat are optional.
The topics we cover (depending on the duration of the retreat) may include:
- Understanding grief, the physical 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.
The focus of our retreats is on making the best of our life in the present.
Abi May leads the retreat, and her husband John is available for individual prayer as a grief companion. In some locations, there is additional pastoral support available.
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.”
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 Abi’s book “A Valley Journal” or her 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 .
I STILL HAVE QUESTIONS!
Contact Abi with other specific questions. I will respond by email, and if you wish, you can include your phone number (in the UK) for me to call you.
WHERE AND WHEN
(Scroll through to the date you are looking for. Click on event for further details)
(This page was last updated 7/12/17)