Our grief and loss retreat helps people transform sadness, anger, and other uncomfortable emotions. It is for those who are:
These intensive, small group events are designed to provide a safe, compassionate environment for grief healing, recovery and deep emotional work. Each phase of the workshop helps participants to connect with each other as well as their own personal resources for healing and insight.
The group support accelerates the healing process for each person. The power of intentional loving creates a strong, safe container for people to do their personal healing work.
Our Grief and Loss Retreat can provide valuable additional support to those in grief counseling who are learning to cope with grief and other difficult feelings.
The First Phase–Coming Together
The group comes together early Thursday evening. (The extended retreat starts on Wednesday early evening.) The first phase of the retreat is about settling in, into one's body, and into a loving community. To work through grief and loss and other painful feelings, we need to feel safe, supported, and open.
All the activities of this phase are all designed to facilitate this safety and support. We breathe together, eat together, move together, and talk with each other.
People often comment with surprise how quickly they come to feel connected to the other group members.
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, anxiety and other emotions. Suppressing or avoiding doesn't work, and mental processes often don't go deep enough.
It is much easier to go through your grief and loss journey with the group support and talented facilitation than on your 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 well. We can get a tremendous amount of work done in very little time. People comment that the weekend feels much longer than it 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 minds want to find out all the details to figure out if the Grief and Loss 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 comprehend..
The grief and loss retreat often goes way beyond what the brain can categorize, and it is usually only after the event that we fully understand. 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 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 a celebration!
To complete this journey of grief recovery, what is yet to be done 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 gently 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
Our Grief And Loss And Other Difficult Emotions Retreat is limited to 8-12 participants. The cost includes food and basic (semi-private) housing. We have room for 7-10 participants at Star Dance Ranch. When full, new participants would need to stay at a local motel or Airbnb which would be an additional expense.
For the longer, Breaking Free To Emotional Wellness summer retreat, click here.
Some people prefer or need additional private space. If you snore or just prefer more privacy please arrange to stay at a local motel at your own cost as we do not have private spaces at Star Dance. Please discuss this option with Jon.
Go here to see photos of Star Dance Ranch and the bedroom spaces.
You are encouraged to register early as most retreats fill well ahead of time. A deposit of $300 reserves your space and it is the date we receive your deposit that determines your enrollment. The remainder is due at the retreat.
We often say that the retreat starts when you commit to it, i.e. when you register. What we mean by this is that your commitment to attend sets in motion a healing process in your life.
(If a retreat is full and you would like to be on the waiting list, a deposit may be required so that you can be immediately registered if a space opens. If there is not a space, you will receive a full refund of your deposit.)
A limited amount of tuition assistance is available for those who need it. Please register early if you want to apply for financial aid.
A short phone interview (~20 minutes) is required to help you and the facilitator decide if this retreat is appropriate for you. You can book the free phone conversation with Jon by sending him a message (see bottom of page) with your email and phone number and the best times to call. He tries to reply within 24 hours, except when leading retreats. Jon will select a specific appointment time for the call. You can also set up a Skype/FaceTime/Zoom call with him, especially if you are outside the U.S.
You are asked to sign a retreat liability release form at the retreat. A copy of that form is here.
All retreats are alcohol and drug free. We support folks who are involved in the recovery movement.
All retreats are LGBTQ friendly.
Participants are asked to bring a potluck item for Thursday dinner unless they are traveling using public transportation.
The Massachusetts retreat starts at 6 pm (arrival at 4:30 to register) Thursday and ends on Sunday at 2 pm. Massachusetts retreats are held in a semi-rural, country setting.
Refund policy for Massachusetts retreats: your deposit will be refunded, minus a $100 administration fee, if it is at least 21 days before the retreat date. After that, the deposit will be forfeited. If you are on the waiting list and do not get in, you will receive a full refund of your deposit.
To register for the Grief, Loss, And Difficult Emotions retreat or, if you have questions, contact Jon using the contact form below.
We are following CDC recommendations for COVID.
Our retreats are small group, intensive events where there is a lot of close personal connecting, and everyone’s safety is important.
We recommend but do not require COVID immunization and boosting. (According to the Center For Disease website, immunization and boosting help assure everyone’s health and reduce the transmission of the virus and subsequent deaths from the virus.) But with the latest variations, it is clear that even boosted folks can still catch and transmit the variants.)
For attendees, we ask that you be especially careful about being exposed to the virus for a couple of weeks ahead of traveling to the retreat. Wear a mask when inside public places such as grocery stores.
If you have any symptoms of Covid, please do not travel to the retreat. Here are the CDC travel guidelines.
If you were exposed and not up to date on vaccinations please follow these CDC recommendations.
We will do a "home test" when you arrive, and also periodically through the retreat if needed, using test kits that we will provide.
About The Facilitator
Jon Terrell, MA, has over 40 years of experience helping people move out of habitual ways of being in the world to discover their own aliveness in the present moment. He has extensive training with grief and loss and other difficult feelings. He has been leading emotional healing retreats since 1999.
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. He was on the faculty of Shalom Mountain for many years.
Jon is a senior trainer in a specialized form of meditation called Inner Light-Fire and the former president of the School of Actualism. He is a core faculty member at the Omega Institute, a certified Somatic Therapist and an ordained minister.
For a full bio click here. For more information about his retreats or other services, including distance work via the phone, Zoom, FaceTime or Skype, contact him using the form below.
Go From Grief and Loss to Healing Emotions Page
For The Extended Breaking Free Retreat Go Here
Go to Handling Grief
Go to Grief Stricken
Find out more about Anger and Depression
Go To Awakenment Wellness Home Page
Comments From Participants
"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
"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.
"If you found Jon and Star Dance there is probably a reason. I was very apprehensive and untrusting but in my heart I knew that I had to go. I had nothing to lose and only my life to gain and that is exactly what happened. Trust the process, you will not regret it. I left the retreat full of love and much more than I could ever put into words. I hated to leave and I can not wait to go back."
-Larissa, Marietta, Georgia