Retreat Spotlight – Imagine

Retreat Spotlight – Imagine

Imagine, A Center for Coping with Loss, is a New Jersey based nonprofit that offers free grief support for children, adults and families. The Uplands hosted a retreat for 17 widowers who were mourning the loss of their spouses/life partners who were also their co-parenting partners. Co-facilitated by Imagine and Uplands staff, the retreat’s theme was “together rising,” as an inspiration to cultivate supportive, uplifting interconnection among the participants who suffer a sense of isolation as they move through their grief processes. 

The retreat began with gathering in a circle to create a field of shared space among the guests, named the “self-love zone,” to welcome and gently explore what would surface over the course of the retreat. Guests then moved to “the curious heart” ice-breaking and bonding experience in which participants chose one surprise question to candidly answer, with content ranging from playful to profound. An interconnecting weave of new bonds in the community was swiftly formed. From there, participants were encouraged to write their own “curious heart” questions with content they wanted to learn from each other. These prompts were used the next day in a follow-up session that enabled them to deepen and enhance their understanding of each other and their shared struggles. There was much levity, laughter and joy that emerged from this follow-up experience that reacquainted many participants with their capacity for happiness that had not been enjoyed since before their loss. The evening ended with a nurturing sound bath.

Woven through the agenda of the weekend were three musical movement sessions strategically created to invite participants to shift away from thinking and talking and into expressing their body-based, grief-related feelings nonverbally. Extensive grief support sessions were woven in by Imagine Facilitators. Further activities included a yoga session, a “self-love” creative arts exploration which included journaling and poem reading, and letter writing to their future selves.

By the end of the retreat, guests reported feeling transformed, from isolated suffering, estrangement and overwhelm, to open hearted self-loving connection to themselves and their fellow retreat guests, with whom they now enjoyed a newfound dedicated community of caring nurturing solidarity that would sustain them through their shared challenges and growth into the future. 

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