The California Grief and Loss Retreat is for people who are stuck in grief or other challenging emotions. For the past 20 years participants at our retreats have found deep relief from the pain of sadness, anger, anxiety, fear, and other intense emotions. We have helped hundreds of people move forward in their lives with renewed focus, hope, love and generosity.
The California Grief And Loss And Difficult Emotions Retreat is for those who are:
Our retreats provide a safe compassionate environment for deep emotional work. Each phase of the workshop is carefully designed to help participants connect with their own inner healing power.
The group support unleashes this power in a way that individual work cannot. 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 the work they came to do.
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. Read some of the client comments to get a sense of how effective the retreats can be.
The Beginning Of The Retreat–Creating A Community
The retreat starts early Thursday evening. This first part of the California Grief and Loss Retreat is about connection and safety. To work through grief and loss and other difficult feelings we need to feel safe, supported and welcomed.
All the activities in this first part of the retreat help this transition from strangers to a close knit community. We have our meals with each other, join in a circle and in small groups to share, and do simple group activities.
Retreat members also learn the theoretical framework of what we do. The retreat is based around specific loving skills that are learnable.
We are off to a great start with building a loving and safe team. Now we go deeper.
The Retreat's Core–Personal Healing
The middle of the retreat is the longest segment and here each person works through their stuck feelings in a way that most of us can't do on our own.
But with the power of a loving community we can.
We can move into our physical body and discover where we are stuck in a different way than we have been used to. Instead of going around in thoughts and feelings over and over we do what we call process therapy to unravel our pain. It is held in our bodies and when we open up to our bodies our bodies know how to work through pain.
Most often this involves finding suppressed feelings inside...feelings of sadness, anger, fear, etc. Most other forms of emotional work just doesn't go deep enough, but we can go as deep as needed.
What makes it effective and easier is the community loving support and specific guidance from the retreat leader. Each person's process takes an hour or so, much less time than most people think they are going to need. We don't need a long time to do the work...it is avoiding what needs to be worked on that uses up our time.
What is unique about our grief and loss and difficult emotions retreats is that it is much deeper than just talking about feelings. Instead we go right into the feelings below our thoughts and work them through. Thinking can't change feelings although some thoughts can release stuck feelings so we feel better. We are not anti-thinking at all, but rather seek to have a more balanced relationship within ourselves so that our thoughts and feelings can work together harmoniously.
This is not group therapy so much as a time to let the power of a loving group transform ourselves and each other. The healing of our bodies and our hearts requires a new approach...if the old approach was working we wouldn't need something different.
As each person does their process work the whole room transforms. Despair turns into hope that maybe something can actually help us. And hope becomes relief and joy as we do our work. While our work is not religious, people can and do have experiences that include freedom, love and excitement..
Nearing The End Of The Retreat–Integrating Your Experience And Preparing To Go Home.
We go from the "high"of the work phase into the practical–now what do we do?
How do we integrate the work we have done with our life? How do we learn to live into the healing depths we have touched? In this transition phase we begin to look to the future, instead of the past.
We do activities to help us come back into the practical world. We pack, we spend some time cleaning the space and make sure we are back in our body and our lives. We journal, we report our experiences and practice how to put it in words.
The California Grief And Loss Retreat is limited to 12 participants. The cost is $845, and includes basic housing and meals. We do not yet have a location
Please register early if you want to attend. 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 through PayPal or another secure service.
Housing at the retreat is shared.
A short phone interview (about 15 minutes) is required 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 an hour 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 Thursday at 5:30 pm and ends on Sunday at 11 am.
California Grief and Loss Retreat refund policy: 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 Coast...click 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.
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.
- 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.