Our fast-paced society doesn’t always lend itself well to grieving. Bereavement doesn’t stop after the two days of leave that your work gives you. Instead of shoving your grief down and "moving on," you can intentionally address it using a grief retreat.
This growing movement might be the getaway you need to fully feel the grief you’ve been carrying, so that you can move forward, lighter and brighter.
What Is a Grief Retreat?
A grief retreat is a single or multi-day experience that focuses on addressing and processing grief. Through offer a variety of modalities and methods (helmed by any number of professionals from diverse areas of study), these retreats are meant to help people dive into their feelings and move through them.
They might be focused generally on grief, or have a specific focus, such as dealing with the loss of a spouse or child. They're available around the world and across the nation. Though they're centered on grief, they can vary in length of stay, activities, and many other aspects.
4 Major Ways a Grief Retreat Can Help You Heal
No two people grieve the same way, so no grief retreat can (in good conscience) make any firm claims as to what it’ll do for you. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing to get from going to one. Rather, you might surprise yourself with the hidden truths and comfort you unlock while in the program.
Here are just a few of the ways that attending a grief retreat might help you:
1. They Give You Access to Professional Counseling
Most grief retreats are led by licensed counselors, grief therapists, psychologists etc. who have the training needed to productively guide you through your emotions. If a regular therapist is cost-prohibitive for you, a grief retreat might lend you the professional help you need for a smaller price.
Not only are these professionals focused on treating grief, but they also aren’t built on a foundation of slow-moving long-term treatment. For some people, a bereavement getaway could be just what they need to jumpstart or continue moving forward in the healing process.
2. You Can Build a Community to Grieve With
From ancient societies to religious ceremonies, there are examples of communal grieving around the world. Just look at the collective grief scene in the film festival circuit darling, Midsommer. Although you might not jive with intertwining in a circle and wailing in unison, the idea of building a community around you that walks with you through the grief can be incredibly liberating.
After all, being alone when you’re sick or upset only amplifies those feelings. And when you’re grieving over a loss, that isolation is more profound than ever. In this way, a grief retreat can give you the hand you need to hold to walk the path towards healing.
Just knowing you aren't alone in the depth of your pain and loss, and having people around you who understand what that feels like, could help you walk through the grief. You may meet people you just connect with at the retreat, or you may share your grief journey with people who will become lifelong friends.
3. They Remove Distractions & Let You Focus on Your Grief
If we’re being really honest, we’ve all gotten great at using the digital world to ignore our internal needs. Why bother with feeling sad when you can shove it down in favor of pouring yourself into work, relationships, or mindlessly scrolling the internet?
But the beauty of being human is that you can experience the full breadth of emotions — including the difficult ones. A grief retreat that makes you leave your home, job, and friends behind for a period of time puts a stop to this cycle and forces you to address your feelings. You can’t move on from something you consciously or unconsciously refuse to process. Going on a grief retreat can be a positive first step; choosing to face your grief can be the gateway to being able to move forward.
You can also explore different grief activities at home or on your own to help you cope with your emotions.
4. You Can Explore Your Grief in Unusual Ways
In times of stress, we often revert back to what we know. So, the ways you’ve seen grief processed in your life are likely the ones you’ll practice yourself. But the framework that helped someone else heal might not serve you in the same way.
Exploring a grief retreat can open your eyes to new and unusual ways to process all of those feelings. Breathing exercises, guided substance use, nature therapy, art therapy, and yoga are a fraction of the unique ways some people process their grief. So, if you can’t seem to manage it on your own, you might want to turn to a grief retreat instead.
How to Pick the Perfect Grief Retreat
Now, while grief retreats can be helpful, it’s okay to be skeptical when picking one to attend. Like life coaching and motivational courses, not every bereavement getaway is made with integrity in mind. But you can d your best to avoid scammers and pick reputable places that won’t teach you unproductive methods if you check off these boxes:
Look for Licensed Hosts/Guides
The first thing to do when you look for grief retreats is to see who’s leading them. Look them up online to find their credentials, licensure, education, and history. You’re putting your fragile gooey emotional state in their hands (along with your hard-earned cash), so you want to make sure they’re not going to take advantage of you. We suggest choosing retreats that are led by reputable, licensed professionals.
Read the Reviews
Reviews are everything when you’re taking a chance on something you’re paying for. Protect your investment by seeing how others enjoyed the experience. Read the good and the bad and see what the middle road looks like.
Were there ethical concerns? Did people just not get the level of healing they wanted? Or was it disorganized and run poorly? Or on the flip side — did people experience new ways to process their grief, connect with others, and experience healing? Reviews can help you make the right decision for you, but remember that everyone will experience things differently, too. What's right for one person might not be right for another.
Compare the Cost to Other Retreats
It's important to compare how much one retreat is charging with how much a similar retreat charges. Eventually, you’ll find a consensus of how these retreats prices are broken down, so you’ll be able to spot one that’s charging you an outrageous amount for what they’re offering.
Since it’s not only your emotional wellbeing but also your finances on the line, don’t throw them away on the first retreat you find. Do a deep dive into the costs and check that there aren’t any hidden fees. For example, you need to know if some of their experiences or courses during your stay cost extra.
Costs can really vary. You might pay anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars for the retreat, depending on the location, number of nights, and activities they offer. However, comparing the costs between similar retreats can help you make sure you're getting a fair price.
See How Many Days You Can Spare
A big consideration is how much time you can spare. You can find just as many one-day local retreats as you can lavish, two-week immersive retreats out there. So, look at your calendar and see what you can afford to plan.
Don’t misconstrue that the longer you go, the more healed you’ll be. Any time you spend intentionally working through your feelings will help put you on a healing path.
A database like RetreatGuru can help you find places that offer grief retreats, but it's still best to evaluate the potential organization with the tips above. Making sure they are licensed and reading reviews can help you ensure the experience you're paying for is just what you want.
Who Said Grieving Has to be Traditional?
Humans are a skeptical species, and you’re likely to run into people who find grief retreats a bit wacky. But whoever said that your grieving process has to be traditional? And until you try one of these programs, you’ll never know if they’re what you need to move on. Just remember that, at the end of the day, a grief retreat isn’t the thing that’ll heal you; it’s just a tool you can use to help you in the healing process.