It began with an invitation to co-facilitate a week-long grief retreat. In Costa Rica. In the community where I had done so much of my own grieving and healing. It had been nearly 4 years since I'd left. It had been 5 years since my husband, Mitch's death.
The retreat was inspired by the death of Lupe, who was the daughter of Rose, my beloved Yoga Teacher and the orginal founder of the Yoga Retreat Center, Vida Asana. The entire retreat experience was being made possible by generous donations and fundraising events.
Just two days before receiving the invitation, I had made a vision map- a collage of images from magazines that called to me for 2018- to my surprise I had included two images of Costa Rica in that vision. And here I was, living in my new home in the San Juan Islands, off the coast of Washington State, staring at this emailed invitation, asking me to help lead a retreat- a retreat for parents who had lost a child.
I felt excited, I felt moved, I felt energized by the opportunity. But what about my daughters, ages 7 and 4- I had never left them for a week… And my jobs? I was the social and emotional learning teacher for k-6th grade, and the domestic violence and sexual assault prevention coordinator for the middle and high school… I decided I would think about it through the weekend.
That afternoon I mentioned the grief retreat to two friends, both of those friends offered to watch my girls. I couldn’t believe it. I mentioned the opportunity to my supervisors at work- they both told me I should go. I mentioned the retreat to my girls, they were excited at the idea of sleepovers with their friends! It seemed like the stars were aligning for me to make the journey. After taking the weekend to sit with it, I took a deep breath, and I replied to the invitation with a YES!
Over the course of the next 6 weeks, I worked to prepare the girls for my departure, gathered my ideas together for workshops I could teach at the retreat, and worked through all of the logistics to make the experience as seamless as possible.
March 3rd came, I kissed my girls good-bye, and began the emotional 24 hour journey to Costa Rica that began with a ferry to the mainland, a drive to Seattle, an overnight flight that included two layovers, and finally a shuttle from the city to the coast of Costa Rica.
And suddenly I had returned, to another place in the world that I called home. To the country where I had lived with my husband early in our marriage and in our dating. To the country where I had returned to grieve his death, while raising our two year old daughter and birthing our second daughter. Costa Rica. I had arrived- to help faciliate the healing of others who had experienced loss. It felt like I had come full circle.
The schedule for the week was filled with beautiful hikes, surfing excursions, zip lining, vegan deliciousness, and live music. The other retreat facilitators offered meditation, massage, yoga, sound healing, and a variety of healing modalities that included Access Consciousness, and Rapid Resolution Therapy. I offered emotional healing workshops that included meditation, journaling, and vision mapping. The Yoga Retreat Center was a jungle paradise. The week was full with tears, gratefulness, joy, laughter, wonderment, healing, and community. It was FULL with healing for both the attendees and the facilitators.
After a week of holding space for the healing of others, being moved by the courage and resilience of the participants, and moving through my own process of healing, I returned home to my daughters. We rejoiced in our togetherness! I felt more whole than I had felt before I left. I had returned with a newfound sense of purpose for my work in the world, confidence in myself, and with a greater peace and understanding for the healing journey through grief and loss that we all must take in our lives.
The retreat, Waves of Hope, is now going to be held as an annual event! Click here to check out the website to view photos, and to find out about how to get involved- either through fundraising or donations, or through participation if you have experienced the loss of a child.
I am grateful to my experience, and to ALL who made it possible! Thank you to Sean, owner of Vida Asana Yoga Retreat Center- for both holding space for the retreat, and for creating the idea for the retreat! And thank you to all of the fundraising efforts that helped make it possible, to my Yoga Teacher, Rose, to all of the healers that attended and shared their gifts, to all who attended the retreat and shared their hearts, and to my dear friends who cared for my daughters in my absence. THANK YOU!!!!