There is no set limit of time in which people grieve. The process is different for everyone and the healing and recovery is individual. In addition to books, counseling and other grief coping tools there are a wide assortment of other methods that people can take advantage of to help them move forward after loss. Grief retreats, grief cruises and other types of unconventional gatherings not only serve as connecting people with similar circumstances but also give individuals, couples and families a community that they can lean on that have a personal understanding of what they are going through. The retreats can focus on counseling, healing, introspection and moving forward onto the next phase without a loved one and are available for children, for men or women individually, families or couples.
Grief Retreats for Individuals
There are a number of grief retreats that are geared towards individuals and the retreats are typically annual events. They may last a day or two or may be more intensive retreats that are week long.
STAR Foundation Retreats
The STAR Foundation Retreat focuses on an individual approach to dealing with grief, healing from loss and moving forward with hope. The Star Foundation has anywhere from one to three retreats a year - spring, summer and fall - and much of the retreat focuses on creativity as a way of expression and coping. The STAR Retreat has more than three decades of experience and a 1 to 2 staff to participant ration. The Retreat location is in Tubac, Arizona at Kenyon Ranch. The Retreat focuses not just on physical loss but also life transitions, depression, PTSD or other personal or professional struggles. The cost for a 10 day retreat as of January 1, 2017 is $4295 and this cost is all inclusive - meals, lodging, therapy, etc.
Participants of a STAR Retreat explore that creativity in four ways: written work, group work, individual sessions and with creative projects. The experienced staff guides you through both physical, cognitive and emotional exercises that are designed to not only help put you in touch with the repetitive patterns that leave you feeling stuck but also are designed to give you tools to help you move forward with the life you want to live. The program is tailored to meet individual needs.
For more information visit STAR Foundation.
Sunrise Grief Retreats
Sunrise Grief Retreats are retreats for individuals looking to get assistance with their grief, understand their grief and gain tools to heal. The society has a spring and a fall retreat and the retreats are held in British Columbia. Each retreat accepts 4-8 participants and the cost ranges from $700 for an individual and $1200 for couples.
At a Sunrise Grief Retreat, individuals will attend group sessions as well as individual sessions. The program uses such tools s guided meditation, yoga and expressive therapy to help individuals recognize their grief, talk about their grief and learn to heal. The Sunrise Grief Retreat provides you with the opportunity to encourage and inspire others that have experienced loss with the idea that you as well will be encouraged and inspired by the stories of others attending.
For more information visit Sunrise Grief Retreat.
Grief Retreats for Couples or Families
There are a variety of grief retreats available for families or couples that are looking to work together to assist them with their grief. From one day retreats to weekend retreats for the entire family, working together to understand individual grief and moving forward together is the primary focus of these types of retreats.
The Respite Retreat is a retreat for couples that have lost a child and are struggling not only with the loss but also those that may be questioning their faith after loss. The retreats take place twice a year and are located in Henrietta, Tennessee. The cost of the retreat is $550 per couple and this includes lodging all meals. The Respite Retreat is held Friday night through Sunday morning.
The Respite Retreat focuses on finding meaning and purpose in the loss of a child and grieving together with other couples that have also lost a child. The retreat is led by David and Nancy Guthrie who have lost two of their three children. The focus on helping couples not only learn from each other but also on the fact that they are not alone.
For more information visit Respite Retreat.
Camp Sol is a non-profit organization that provides support for families that have lost a child. The services are for families that have children under the age of 18 at home and they host several evens throughout the year. All the services are free for families.
The Family Retreat Weekend is held twice a year at Camp John Marc in Meridian, Texas. The retreat connects families with other families that have lost a child and helps to facilitate family bonding. Parents are given the opportunity to connect with other parents individually as well as a family unit and often times it serves as the first time children have the opportunity to connect with other children that have lost a sibling. At the conclusion of the weekend, a remembrance ceremony is held and gives families the opportunity to grieve for and remember their child.
For more information visit Camp Sol.
Faith’s Lodge provides support for parents and families that are facing the death or have suffered the death of a child. Located in Northwester Wisconsin, the site offers weekend stays for parents and families that are going through a similar experience. The rates range around $50 a night and there is financial assistance available.
At Faith’s Lodge, families and parents can reserve a weekend to connect with one another and other families that have experienced a similar lost. There are Bereaved Parent’s weekends, children’s activities and group therapeutic projects that are designed to help parents and families reflect on their loss and build hope for the future. The lodge was started by Mark and Susan Lacek who lost their daughter Faith due to an umbilical cord accident.
For more information visit Faith's Lodge.
Grief Retreats for Children
Children channel and cope with grief completely differently than adults. Grief retreats and camps for children that have lost parents, a sibling or someone close to them focus on not only giving children and young adults tools for understanding and dealing with their group but also give them the rare opportunity to connect with other children in similar situations.
Comfort Zone Camp
The Comfort Zone Camp is the nations largest bereavement camp for children that have experienced the death of a parent, sibling or guardian. The camp is free and is for children age 5-25. The camps are held year round around the country and the locations are Virginia, California, Massachusetts and New Jersey.
At Comfort Zone Camp, the focus centers a lot around fun. Campers will have the opportunity to engage in typical camp activities such as arts and crafts, sports, hiking and camp songs and campfires. Throughout the weekend, campers are also given the opportunity to share their loss either in Healing circles or in age-based support groups. Campers are matched with a Big Buddy that is the same gender and the Buddy is matched based off of similar personality, interests, and if applicable, similar loss. All children are under constant supervision and there are always at least two adults in their presence. Campers stay at night in the same cabin with their Big Buddy. The focus of the camp is to not only help build self esteem but learn coping skills to manage their grief in day to day life.
For more information visit Comfort Zone Camp.
Camp Erin is for children ages 6-17 that have lost a significant person in their lives. The camp is free of charge for families and is a weekend camp that is funded by the Moyer Foundation. The camp is offered in every MLB city and other locations around the US and Canada.
Camp Erin gives children the opportunity to not only have fun participating in typical camp activities but also provides grief education and support to children that are grieving. Children attending Camp Erin will meet other kids their age in similar circumstances but will also learn coping mechanisms and ways to process their grief in a healthy manner. Campers get the chance to honor and memorialize their loved ones with other grieving children and learn they are not alone in their grief.
For more information visit Camp Erin.
Experience Camps are week long camps for girls and boys that have lost a parent, a sibling or a guardian or caregiver. The camp has four locations: Georgia, New York, California and Maine. The camps are staffed by licensed social works, doctors, college athletes and others that have a passion for helping children that have lost a family member. The camps are free to campers.
Campers at Experience Camps will take part in water sports, land sports and arts and crafts. There are activities called bereavement activities that are focused around helping campers to express their emotions and find comfort in others that have had a similar experience. There are camp wide activities as well as individual time and smaller group activities. Campers are given tools that will help them with their confidence and their coping after camp.
For more information visit Experience Camp.
Other types of Grief Gatherings
In addition to grief retreats, there are other types of gatherings whose focus is to bring together individuals and families that are grieving and looking for ways to cope and to find hope. Grief cruises, grief spas, grief conferences and conventions can provide valuable information and assistance to those that are struggling with loss.
The Bereavement Cruise
The Bereavement Cruise is a chance for families and individuals to take part in a five day cruise that centers around remembering and honoring loved ones that have passed away. Called “Seminars at Sea, the cruise is led by Linda Findlay and Glenn Lord and provides a healing opportunity as well as hope for those that have experienced loss. Participants will have the opportunity to participate as much or as little as they want as well as take advantage of all the cruise ship has to offer. For those guests that wish to participate there is also a Burial Out to Sea Ceremony where loved one’s ashes can be dispersed. Pricing starts around $500 per person for the cruise with an additional $300 for the seminar. Note this does not include airfare.
For more information visit Bereavement Cruise.
Golden Willow Retreat
Golden Willow Retreat is located outside of Taos, New Mexico at the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The retreat center offers personalized in-house programs where clients can work with licensed Clinical Therapists and Spiritual Care Counselors towards their specific healing and recovery goals. They offer additional professional services with certified bodyworkers for yoga, tai chi, massage, mindfulness and meditation. Specialized ceremonies and rituals will help you connect and honor yourself while processing and healing. Additionally, Golden Willow Retreat offers events such as "Loss of a Loved One" weekend workshop and an annual Butterfly Release Ceremony where individuals can honor a loved one who has passed with the purchase of a butterfly.
For more information visit Golden Willow Retreat.
Bereaved Parents Annual Gathering Conference
The Bereaved Parents of the USA has an annual conference for bereaved families. The conference focuses on workshops, sharing sessions where families can connect with others that have lost. There are guest speakers that touch on many subjects surrounding grief and how individuals can not only understand and grasp their feelings but also provide helpful information on how to reinvest in your life and move forward with hope. The conference provides families the opportunity to help other families that are struggling with the loss of a child and the conferences are held in different locations every year.
For more information visit Bereaved Parents Annual Gathering.
The Compassionate Friends National Conference
The Compassionate Friends provides support and comfort to grieving families that have lost a child, sibling or grandchild. Founded over 40 years ago in England by two sets of grieving parents, TCF came to the United States and was incorporated in 1978 in the state of Illinois. The organization hosts a yearly conference where visitors to the conference can attend workshops and presentations focused on anything from Death from Addiction to For Men Only. The conference has workshops for every member of the family and is a three day event.
To get additional information or to register for the conference visit Compassionate Friends.
David Kessler Seminars
David Kessler is a best selling author, all known for his expertise in helping those that have lost to heal. Kessler gives seminars across the United States and Europe and the seminars focus on Grief and Grieving as well as an annual Spirituality and Health Conference. The seminars are open to not only health professionals but anyone that is dealing with grief.
Find out more about locations for the seminars and covered topics by visiting David Kessler Seminars.
NAGC’s Annual Symposium on Children’s Grief
The NAGC (National Alliance for Grieving Children) has an annual conference that is dedicated to children’s grief. The Annual Symposium brings over 400 professional and volunteers from various organizations together each year and provides information on how to provide continued support to grieving children. The motivational gathering has an annual host and strives to bring individuals and educators together to find new and innovative ways to help children and teens manage and cope with grief.
More information can be found at NAGC Annual Synopsium.
TAPS National Military Survivor Seminar and Camp
Every Memorial Day weekend, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Surviors, or TAPS, puts on a seminar and camp for families that have lost a military service person. The event consists of a seminar weekend for adults and a camp for children. There are scholarships available to help with the cost as well as donated flights for those families that cannot afford to attend.
TAPS Survivor Seminar for adults
From Thursday to Monday of Memorial Day , adults can take part in a variety of lectures, activities and workshops that are centered around the loss of a loved one in the military. From sharing groups to parades to group activities, the seminar brings together loved ones and families from across the United States to take part in honoring and remembering their loved one. The weekend is capped off with the Arlington National Cemetery Memorial Day Service and the National Memorial Day Parade. The cost per adult is $195.
For more information on the TAPS Survivor Seminar visit TAPS for Adults.
TAPS Good Grief Camp for Children
The Good Grief Camp is for children that have lost a loved one in the military. The children are paired with a military mentor during the Memorial Day weekend camp and the focus of the camp is family. Children will find support through connections with other kids their age that have experienced the loss of a loved one in the military. Additionally, because the children are paid with a trained service member or a veteran, they are left with a feeling of camaraderie, a family unit that exists outside of their immediate family. It’s a safe and fun environment where a child can not only freely express their emotions but also gain valuable and relatable insight on how to cope and move forward. The cost for the Good Grief Camp is $75.
Learn more about the Good Grief Camp by visiting Taps Good Grief Camp.
To learn more about donated airfare go to https://www.taps.org
The Grief Recovery Institute
The Grief Recovery Institute was founded in the 1980’s and provides national and international assistance for those in need of grief recovery. Here you can find local grief support groups, one on one assistance and weekend workshops. Additionally you can find resources on books, how to become a grief specialist and help with all kinds of loss from grief over pet loss to how you can assist those that are grieving.
To find information on support groups in your area visit https://www.griefrecoverymethod.com/our-programs/support-groups.
For more information on one on one support go to https://www.griefrecoverymethod.com/our-programs/support-groups.
For local weekend seminars and workshops visit https://www.griefrecoverymethod.com/grief-recovery-workshops.
Finding ways to work through grief and get tools to move forward for individuals, families and children can be done by other methods outside of traditional counseling. There are tangible ways such as an urn necklace for ashes to help someone that is grieving but often that is chosen in conjunction with additional resources. From grief cruises to attending conventions and conferences to finding local assistance, families can explore unique opportunities to heal from their loss.