Grief Rituals

Grief Ritual Retreat  March 31-April 2, 2023.  Location: Samish Island Retreat Center, Bow, WA

Co-Facilitated by Thérèse and Tere of Sacred Groves, Laurence Cole, and Mary Hart

This retreat is an opportunity to support each other to feel and express our emotions deeply, witnessed and held in the supportive container of community and ritual.  As we know, there are few places in this culture where we can release our strong emotions. Many of us yearn to release these feelings, but find ourselves alone with our grief all too often. At this retreat,  your tears and heart-ache are welcome.

The week-end Retreat will include setting up 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, inspired by their teachings and the ritual they brought from their village in Burkina Faso. Their influence is an important foundation for our grief work, but of course we have adapted and integrated other modalities. 

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 working with the unseen realms, including our ancestors.

Timeframe:  We will have our opening circle at 2pm on Friday.  We will complete the retreat at 3pm on Sunday.  Everyone is expected to arrive on time and stay through the end. 

Food: All meals will be provided starting with Friday dinner, through Sunday lunch. There will be vegetarian, dairy and gluten free options available.

Accommodations: Cost of lodging is included in your fee. Options available on-site include a duplex cabin with one unit for 2 folks, another for 1, shared bathroom between them. Tiny private cabins are available with a communal bathroom located nearby.

Participants: Adults 18 and older. Limited to 40 participants.

COVID Protocol:  We are holding this ritual indoors.  We ask everyone to do a COVID test the morning the Retreat starts; if the test is positive or you are showing symptoms the day of the retreat, please stay home.  Once gathered, each participant will be at choice regarding masking, distancing, contact, etc.  

Fees (i.e. energy exchange)  $600. Please send via Venmo @Mary-Hart-48 or PayPal  Payment plans, partial scholarships and work exchanges are available) 

Our venue: To read more and see photos, click here. 

To Register: click here. 

Refund Policy:

  • A full refund will be given if our COVID precautions do not feel stringent enough for you or if you feel sick at the time of the ritual.  (Please stay home)
  • If you cancel anytime before 1 week prior to the retreat for other reasons, we retain $50 as a “handling fee.”
  • If you cancel less than a week 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.  This policy helps to hold us all accountable and creates some protection for us as the facilitators and organizers.

Questions? Please email Mary (


left-to-right: Laurence, Therese, Tere and Mary

Facilitators: Our “Grief Tending Team” includes 4 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.

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.

Tere Carranza came to Sacred Groves is 2004 and has offered her big heart, delicious cooking and wonderful support to grief rituals here since then.  To read more about Thérèse and Tere, click here. 

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.

Others from our Grief Tenders Mentoring program will assist and support during this retreat.

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.