California Grief And Loss Retreat

Working Through Emotional Pain
Grief, Fear, Anger & Other Difficult Emotions

Led By
Jon Terrell, MA

Dates To Be Announced

Fee includes housing and meals
Limited to 12 participants

The California Grief and Loss Retreat helps people stuck in grief or other challenging feels find relief. This retreat aids those who are caught up in sadness, anger, anxiety, fear, or other intense emotions.

The California Grief And Loss And Difficult Emotions Retreat is for those who are:

  • Experiencing pain due to personal loss–of a child, parent, partner, sibling, best friend, etc.
  • Going through a divorce or separation
  • Looking for help coping
  • Trapped in anger
  • Feeling stuck, sad or hurt 
  • Seeking healing from past emotional wounds
  • Going through a difficult transition
  • Healing from trauma
  • Feeling anxious or afraid
  • Caught up in resentment, guilt, jealousy, hate, etc.
  • Seeking a new vision for life, a new direction, inspiration

What Happens at the California Grief, Loss And Difficult Emotions Retreat?

Our retreats provide a safe compassionate environment for deep emotional work. Each phase of the workshop is carefully designed to encourage participants to connect with their own internal resources for healing and wisdom.

The group support accelerates the healing and awakening process for each person. Every participant has the opportunity to do one on one work with the facilitator as well as experience the full support of the group. The power of intentional loving creates a strong, safe container for people to do grief recovery and other emotional work.

This retreat can be an additional support to those in grief counseling who are learning to cope with grief and loss as well as others working through a variety of difficult feelings.

The First Phase–Coming Together

The group comes together early Thursday evening. The first phase of the California Grief and Loss Retreat is about settling in, into one's body and into a loving community. To work through grief and loss and other difficult feelings we need to feel safe, supported and welcomed.

All the activities of this phase are all designed to facilitate this safety and support. We breathe together, eat together, move together, talk with each other.

People often comment with surprise how quickly they come to feel connected to the other group members.

In this first phase participants also learn specific "skills of loving" that they will use throughout the event and hopefully in their lives.

We have begun. In the First Phase we begin to experience the transformational power of a loving community. This is vital for the next part of the workshop.

The Second Phase–Depth Work

The second phase is an opportunity for participants to go into and through their stuck feelings, in a way that is nearly impossible on one's own.

We can find ourselves stuck, caught in prolonged grief, or another feeling, and unable to move on. Here we can.

Using powerful process work and with the loving group support, each person, if they choose, is guided into the wisdom within their body.

It is here, in our bodies, that the "old story" lives on, and yet it is where our deep wisdom also resides.

For many this is a journey into and through buried, stuck emotions. Grief doesn't ride alone, and the grief cycle can include anger, rage, fear, guilt and anxiety and other emotions. Suppressing or avoiding doesn't work, and mental processes often don't go deep enough.

It is much, much easier to go through this journey with the group support and talented facilitation that on ones own. If we could have done it on our own we would have already!

And it's much quicker and less painful with group support as as well. We can get a huge amount of work done in very short time. People comment that the weekend feels much longer than it actually is because of the depth we achieve working together.

This work goes well beyond thought processes and thinking. We are stuck at a layer of consciousness below our thinking, in our feelings. Although this can affect our thoughts about ourselves and others, no amount of thinking can transform these stuck feelings. It can be hard for our brain to accept this truth!

Our brains want to find out all the details to figure out if the retreat or other activity will be helpful. The brain wants to be in charge. Our brains want to categorize the work, label it and then it feels it understands it. For example it may label this retreat a type of "group psychotherapy" (which it is not) and then use that label to think "it's not for me."

But our hearts may be longing for something the brain can't quite get to.

The experience of the grief and loss retreat often goes way beyond what the brain can categorize...and it is often only after the experience that our brains can get it. In my experience of the healing power of deep process, the brain is the last part of us that gets it.

Something extraordinary happens as people do their work. Each person is called back into the holiness and radiance of the present moment, and into the loving arms of the waiting community.

As this shift happens, a new aliveness emerges from the ashes of the past.

Third Phase–Integration And The Return Journey 

The alchemy of the second part can lead to a place of deep peace and healing.

Lead becomes gold. Our dark, stuck feelings come bearing gifts, treasures waiting to be discovered. And in this discovery is celebration!

What is yet to be done to complete this journey of grief recovery is to begin to integrate this experience back into one's life.

We touch into Big Energy/Big Medicine during the retreat and we need to carefully descend back to make the transition homeward.

We do simple grounding activities. One of them is to spend some time (30-45 minutes or so) to "clean the Temple that has served us." We push a broom or vacuum or do another action to focus us back in the physical world.

We journal to ground our experience into practical actions that we can take during the week after the retreat.

Through group and individual exercises we learn to step down the energy back into our bodies. We fully engage our brains to plan our next steps.

Retreat Information/How To Register

The California Grief And Loss Retreat is limited to 12 participants. The cost is $895, and includes housing and meals. 

It is held at the beautiful Joshua Tree Retreat Center in southern California. We have our own space, separated from the main retreat activities so we can create a safe, powerful healing container.

You are encouraged to register early to assure yourself of a space. A deposit of $400 reserves your space and it is the date we receive your deposit that determines your enrollment. The remainder is due 30 days before the  retreat. We can send you a link to pay your deposit and remainder due securely through PayPal or another service.. 

Housing at the retreat center is shared.

A short phone interview (15 minutes or less) is requested to help you and the facilitator decide if this retreat work is appropriate for you. You can reach us by sending us a message (see bottom of page) with your phone number and the best times to call. We try to reply within 24 hours, except when leading retreats. You can also set up a Skype counseling session with Jon ahead of the retreat.

Participants are asked to bring a potluck item for the first dinner unless they are flying or using public transportation The retreat starts on Friday at 4 pm and ends on Monday late morning.

Refund policy for the retreat: your deposit will be refunded, minus a $100 administration fee, if it is at least 30 days before the retreat date. After that, the deposit and any other payments made will be forfeited. There are no refunds.

Similar retreats are available on the East here for that page.

To register for the California Grief And Loss Retreat or if you have questions, contact Jon using the contact form below.

About The Facilitator

Jon Terrell, MA, has over 35 years of experience helping people to reclaim their own aliveness, generosity and joy. He has extensive training in working with grief and loss and difficult feelings. He has been leading emotional healing retreats since 1999 and California Grief and Loss Retreats since 2003,

Jon has a Masters degree from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology and advanced certification in both Marriage and Family Therapy and Mental Health Counseling. Jon studied clinical imagery at the Huntington Therapy Institute and Process Therapy at the Institute of Process Therapy and Shalom Mountain Retreat and Study Center.

Jon is a senior trainer of the School of Actualism and its former president. He is a core faculty member at the Omega Institute, a certified Somatic Therapist, and an ordained minister.

Jon is on the staff of Shalom Mountain Retreat Center and the Omega Institute. He has an office in Northampton, Massachusetts, and in New York City. For a full bio click here. For more information about his retreats or grief recovery counseling services, including distance work via the phone and Skype, contact him using the form below.

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Comments From Participants

"I was experiencing a lot of negativity and felt stuck in my life. I had experienced many losses, abuse in my relationship and a painful childhood. And I was angry. I tried every other type of therapy and I felt like the grief and trauma was still stuck in my body and still haunting me.

The retreat was amazing. THANK YOU so much for being you and for helping me, I feel like I have life force for the first time in a long time, I keep Thanking God for you and for my life. I NEVER thought I would thank him for my life,"  Joanne Katsionis, and what is your city? 

- Joanne K., Babylon, NY

“What an amazing journey! For the first time in my life I have learned to truly love. This is the best investment I have ever made for myself. I was able to heal wounds I’ve carried for 58 years. I have room inside to finally live and to want to live a full life. Thank you.”

- James Boraas, Oregon

"As I look back on my experience, I would say that it served as an oasis in my own desert. In the past few years I have faced a few challenges and disappointments.  

Before going to the retreat I had come to a point where I was depressed, and discouraged about life in general.  

At the retreat I had the experience of participating in true nurturing, caring, and unity with Jon and the other retreat members. It reminded me that life is beautiful and full of deeply caring people. Love is alive in the world.  

Jon facilitated the retreat with sensitivity. I am so grateful for having had this experience. I was nourished and ready to see the world in a fresh new positive light."

- Linda Shaw, Mill Valley, CA

"The retreat was great!  I came because of difficulty with my siblings…I had a lot of mixed feelings, to say the least.  

With the help of  the safe, supportive group I was ready to do my work. It felt so good to let go of anger and grief and bond with brave and amazing people who went on the journey with us.

Jon is an excellent and compassionate facilitator. He definitely has a gift for helping people dig deeply by creating a safe and loving environment.”

- Jan Banaszek. Los Angeles

"Best thing I ever did!" 

 - Patti Cliff, Oklahoma

"It’s now two months since that very memorable retreat and since returning home to England. I didn’t know what to expect but felt that I needed to make the long journey to try to make some sense of what had happened to me in my childhood and my marriage.

The retreat was such an emotional and powerful experience, and I left feeling more connected to my children, I just wanted to shout and tell them that I love them. I felt lighter within me, a real sense of happiness which I had not felt for a long time, calm and relief.

My flight back home was really surreal because it felt as if a weight had been lifted from me and a feeling of happiness within me. Now two months on I can honestly say that I am a lot calmer in myself and I don’t feel as troubled as I did before the retreat. I have more inner peace. A most incredible journey."

- Rose B, Birmingham, UK

"What a blessing to have found this retreat.  My life was in a tailspin after the death of my only child, my son, almost six years ago.  I was lost, had no purpose because my purpose was my son, no joy or happiness, and only wanted to be with my son.  I just wanted to bury the half of me that was not buried with my son because I was spiritually & emotionally dead…I had no hope and just existed.

As I went through the retreat, I began to feel a peace that I hadn’t felt in a very long time. Little by little my despair turned into feeling the presence of my son, joy and happiness, and finally hope & excitement for my future.  Now back home I am at the beginning of my new life.

If you’re suffering or feel hopeless, you have a place to go that is safe, non-judgmental, loving, and will transform you." 

-Elaine G, Brandon, Florida

"The grief and loss weekend was amazing and well worth it. A heavy load of grief and anger was miraculously lifted, and still weeks later, I do not feel it and am having a much easier time, living my life without the past weighing me down. I am able to be with myself and be alone without those negative feelings that were causing me such pain. The sense of love and community is amazing and wonderful. I still feel like those who took the weekend with me are still right beside me. Thanks Jon for your gift of healing."

- Joey LaValle-Mackay, Massachusetts

"It was life changing! My focus has now completely shifted because of the retreat…people now, relationships are now most important, while before it was things. All that matters are people. Before, relating was scary, and ugly,  now,  relationships are life-affirming. That’s a pretty big deal for me.

It was a spiritual experience for me too. I opened the door and went into the Light. It was God. I heard the words, “We have been waiting for you.” I felt love and light around me, all over me and above me, I felt my body go upward. It just went there.

I have purpose now. I found it, I found my passion!"

-Barbara Scholten, Melbourne, Florida

"Wow. I am beyond words. For the first time in my life I can say I am really, truly healed. For the first time in my life, I can say I'm really, truly HAPPY. There is more to be fulfilled, more to create in life, but for the first time, I'm not longing to create it.

People respond to me differently even when I'm not at all aware of doing anything different than I usually would.

It's amazing. How all this is possible blows my mind, but there it is."

- Jason Howard, Massachusetts

"I have been to a lot of workshops, but this has been the most transformative. The attention to every little detail creates an atmosphere of complete trust and safety that allowed all of us to go deep and release our fears, guilt, depression, loss, shame, sadness and complicated grief.

I released so much of what I was carrying around with me, in my body, that was holding me back. We all left feeling filled with Love and with a determination to go home and start again, a new beginning" 

-Kathleen Wood, Provincetown, MA

"I feel a new joy welling up inside of me. I've been searching for this joy for the past 5 and a half years, since my husband’s diagnosis with and then death from, cancer. The retreat helped me to rediscover it, and I've been waking up each day since, experiencing it anew. My chronic underlying anxiety and feeling that the 'other shoe is going to drop' have lifted completely. I am lighter and happier and really truly enjoying life again. Jon is a fantastic facilitator. "

Ellen Kittredge, Maryland

"I was so unsure as to what to expect. But I am on a search for answers, and direction. I didn't know for sure what my work would involve. 

I appreciate the respect and space and attention you gave me through that process. Thank you for the work that you do, and for the grace that you handle life and people with.

I came home with new friendships, and a new beginning and a new focus. 

On Sunday, at the end of the retreat, I experienced what communion is truly all about for the first time.

Very Sincerely,"  

- Melinda Ash, Center,Texas

"Thank you for being there for me and helping all of us go deeper within. Jon was fully present and very in touch with the all the different energies in the room. He is very intuitive and has a deep understanding of what drives our emotional behavior. Jon has a gift and I highly recommend his work. Thank you so much.  Many blessings to you, I know we will see each other again."

- Ziad Azzi, Union, N.J.

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