Grief Retreat

Dec 1-3, 2023      Lacey, WA,   Retreat starts 2pm on Friday, ends around 3pm Sunday.

Co-Facilitated by Thérèse Charvet, Laurence Cole,  Mary Hart, Siena Tenisci

This gathering is an opportunity to support each other to feel and express our emotions deeply, while being witnessed and held in the basket of community ritual.  Because there are so few places in this culture where we can release our strong emotions, many of us find ourselves alone with our grief all too often. At this ritual, your tears and heart-ache are welcome.

The week-end will include establishing our sacred space, talking circles, singing, poetry, movement, ceremony, sharing food and quiet time. The heart of the retreat is a grief ritual, accompanied by African drumming and chanting, a tradition brought to the West by Malidoma and Sobonfu Some.  Therese and Laurence were both blessed to experience a number of grief rituals with them, healed and inspired by the teachings and ritual they brought from their village in Burkina Faso. Their influence is an important foundation for our grief rituals, but we have adapted and integrated other modalities as well. 

The spiritual framework for this ritual includes time-honored and earth based modalities such as invoking the energies of the 7 directions, utilizing the power of drumming and chanting, the belief that the natural world is a rich place of inter-connection with “all our relations,” and the importance of prayer and working with the unseen realms, including our ancestors.

Our work is also inspired by the Five Gates of Grief from Francis Weller:

  • Everything we love we will lose
  • The places that have not known love
  • The sorrows of the world
  • The things we cannot even name that we ache for
  • Intergenerational or ancestral grief

We invite you to ‘lean in’ with us as we remember how to grieve in community.

Venue:  The Westwood building at  Gwinwood Retreat Center, Lacey, WA just south of Olympia.

COVID Protocol: We will adhere to state and local guidelines for COVID safety protocol. Knowing that these guidelines will likely shift over the coming months, we will be in touch with retreat participants at least one month ahead of time about our requirements. Please note that testing may be required.

Fees:  Early bird fee is $600 USD by 11/1, $625 thereafter. Meals and lodging included. Non-residential rate and limited partial scholarships available. If interested, please contact Mary:

Refund Policy:

  • If you cancel anytime before 2 weeks prior to the retreat for any reason, we retain $50 handling fee and refund the balance.
  • If you cancel less than 2 weeks prior to the retreat, we cannot guarantee a refund due to the low likelihood of someone from the waitlist being able to fill your spot.  If we are able to fill your spot, we will offer a 50% refund minus the $50 handling fee.
  • A refund policy related to COVID exposure or positive COVID test before the retreat starts will be clarified by November 1st.

To Register: click here. 

For other options for Grief Support, check out this webpage. 

Facilitators: Our “Grief Tending Team” includes 5 of us who have been involved in grief  rituals here at Sacred Groves and elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest for many years.  Each brings unique gifts to the group. Left to right: Siena, Mary, Laurence, Therese and Tere.

Thérèse Charvet is the founder of Sacred Groves and has lived on this land since 1977. She began leading grief rituals in 2002 after attending several grief rituals with her mentor Sobonfu Some.

Laurence Cole is a well-known song leader and respected elder with long involvement in grief work, men’s work, and many other aspects of healing and enlivening the human spirit. He and Thérèse met at a grief retreat held by Sobonfu Some in 1997. He has been co-facilitating Grief Retreats with Thérèse and Tere since 2009. In addition, he has been offering a ritual called “Grief Song,” at singing events and facilitating grief rituals at various places around the country for the past 8 years.

Mary Hart brings her commitment to authenticity, vulnerability and transformation to the team. She is trained in Internal Family Systems therapy, Hakomi therapy, workshop facilitation, The Wheel of Consent and is a personal coach.  In 2014, she was introduced to Grief Ritual and began mentoring with Therese Chavret, Tere Carraza and Laurence Cole.  Since then, she has helped to create and facilitate many healing rituals. She has sought and studied with many great teachers and has been inspired by the work of Sobonfu Some, Richard Schwartz, Krishna Das, Stephen Levine, Jon Kabbat Zin, Francis Weller, and many others.

Siena Tenisci brings her background in body-based somatic healing practices, group therapy, and ceremonial work to circles. She is committed to a lifelong practice of cultural sensitivity and to dismantling systemic and internalized oppression. She completed her Masters in Counseling at Antioch University in Seattle and stands on the shoulders of many great teachers, including Sobonfu Some, Joanna Macy, Francis Weller, and many others.

Honoring our Teachers

Thérèse wants to acknowledge and express her deep gratitude to Sobonfu Some who was her most significant teacher as regards grief ritual. Thérèse was blessed to drum with and participate in a number of rituals with her between 1993 and 2013.  Although Sobonfu no longer walks on this earth, her work and her teachings from the Dagara tribe in Burkina Faso live on in the grief rituals held at Sacred Groves (and elsewhere.) The development of this grief work has also been inspired by the ‘Despair and Empowerment’ work of Joanna Macy, by the work of Frances Weller (who also learned about grief rituals from the Some’s) and from our own personal journeys with grief.