February 20-23, 2020: Saskatoon SK
Queen's House Retreat and Renewal Centre
Whether someone is currently grieving, or has experienced a loss some time ago, this program provides insight, hope and prayerful support as participants’ journey through the painful times of grief and loss in their life. Loss or anticipated loss of spouse, family member or loved one, loss of good health in themselves or someone they love, loss of a job or underemployment, retirement from a much-loved career and the ending of a marriage, significant relationship or friendship are some of the experiences that bring people to Transitions. Transitions is offered as 3.5 day retreat at a retreat centre.
Session 1: Praying our Goodbyes
Session 2: The Foretelling of Sorrow
Session 3: Fleeing from Destruction
Session 4: Searching for Our Lost Treasures
Session 5: Meeting Our Pain
Session 6: Standing Beneath the Cross
Session 7: Embracing our Loss
Session 8: Laying our Sorrows to Rest
Session 9: Hello-Goodbye-Hello
Transitions: A Journey of Transformation though Grief and Loss has been offered in churches and retreat centres throughout Vancouver Island since 2003, in Saskatoon since 2013, and at retreat centres across Canada - 40 groups to date. A program grounded in Christian Spirituality and Prayer, this supportive group offers encouragement, companionship and insights into the often confusing, painful and lonely experience of grieving.
When Transitions is offered at a retreat centre, costs vary. For Queen's House Retreats and Renewal Centre in Saskatoon, the cost for this program is $475. This includes all room and board expenses. Due to the intense nature of this retreat and the fact that evening sessions take place, Sarah recommends participants give themselves the gift of living in at a retreat centre – to be able to go through this journey with your attention uninterrupted will help you to get the most out of this retreat experience. Participants receive a binder containing a summary of the content of each session, related articles, and questions for personal reflection and small group discussions.
Resources used in developing this program:
Your Sorrow is My Sorrow: Hope and Strength in Times of Suffering. Joyce Rupp, The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1999.
Praying our Goodbyes. Joyce Rupp, Ave Maria Press, 1988.
My Grandfather’s Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging. Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D., The Berkley Publishing Group, 2000.
Genesis: A Personal Guide through Grief by John Kennedy Saynor, Genesis Bereavement Resources, 2001.
Feedback from past participants:
I found the time of sharing most helpful. The questions resulted in my looking at things I have given too little attention to.
Sandra, Duncan BC
Thank you for providing a safe and sacred place for us to address our sadness and pain. Thank you for the gentle understanding way you guide us though each session.
Sheila, Ladysmith BC
Most helpful to me was the honesty, spirituality, sacredness, ritual, wonderful people, openness, sharing, and introspection. Healing, grounding – life changing!
Most helpful for me was exploring the process of grief, normalizing it, and the emphasis on finding the gifts in our grief. I appreciated the articulate way Sarah reflected on the course content and the comments we would make Sarah has a gift in understanding what is being said even when our words are not very clear. Sarah is very skilled as a facilitator.
Amy, Crofton BC
I enjoyed your format, the check-in at the beginning, and then the leading in to the scriptural basis, the reflection time, the small group work and the closing. All of it worked well together.
Ruth, Victoria BC
There were many aspects of this program that helped me walk through my grief and transition. Your prayerful reflections, your insightful questions and the rotating small groups all made a significant impact on me. I was especially appreciative of the ritual and visual aspects of each week. I also am grateful for the “collection” of printed notes, questions and added reflections. I have found them useful to review and ponder. I would absolutely recommend Transitions to others. Your gentle manner and astute questions and reflections created a peaceful space and a powerful experience.
Rev. Cathy, Victoria BC
This program was structured enough that I was comfortable – no individual could derail the group because of that. There was a good balance of content, quiet, personal reflection and socialization. Thanks for your time and energy Sarah – it was a valuable time for me and everyone in the group. Blessings as you continue in this ministry.
Rev. Laura, Victoria BC
I would recommend this program to others. There was a great variety of losses – stories and contributions were listened to with much respect and sensitivity.
Dorothy, Port Alberni BC
Sarah brings her gifts – all of them – to the course – the meditations by Joyce Rupp were excellent and Sarah’s interpretation in light of the “Transitions” themes was wonderful. Keep up the good (“grief”) work!
Diane, Victoria BC
I found most helpful the opportunity to share my pain and sorrow with others, and the opportunity to hear their stories. I have recommended this program to others because it is a healing process – gentle, accepting – leading us forward to new beginnings. A huge part of the success of this course is due to you, Sarah. As a teacher I recognize the amount of careful study and preparation that you have to put into the course, as well as that, you bring your own life experiences and share them willingly. I thank you so much.
Pat, Victoria BC
I felt that you, Sarah, provided a safe and sacred place for me to address my sadness and pain. I learned a lot about myself and also while taking this course I healed myself of other issues that I thought had been healed. I found the time of sharing helpful. The questions resulted in my looking at issues I had given little thought. Thank you Sarah for providing such gentleness and empathy and for guiding us through each session.
Heather, Victoria BC
I will recommend this program to others because it can touch people in a variety of levels and helps them to connect with many issues of loss – past and present. It is faith-based, yet teaches about the universal aspects of transitioning through grief and loss. The instructor was well prepared and shares and teaches from a wealth of experience – both her own, and what she has learned from facilitating past groups.
Rev. Scott, Cowichan Bay BC
Most helpful were the stories about Mary – I felt I could really relate to them. Splitting into groups during each session for small group discussion, being able to share our pain and have it so compassionately understood was so helpful. I would definitely recommend this program to others. It really helped me to understand the grieving process and the different steps in getting through it. This retreat at Queenswood was just what I needed. It gave me insight and direction in my life. Thank you and God bless you.
Debbie, Prince George BC
I loved the stories of Mary – I found myself feeling everything that she felt. It provided an opening to what followed in each session. I would definitely recommend this course to others. I have friends who are grieving loss of self, loss of direction – I know they could find some answers within themselves by taking this course...
Sharlene, Vancouver BC
Most helpful was the support of fellow participants and Sarah’s gentle spirit in guiding my journey. The program is so dynamic in its ability to change lives – it has had a profound effect on my life, assisting me to shift and release locked in emotions. Thanks Sarah for the beautiful gift of emotional healing. I will always remember our time spent together.
Ronnie, Victoria BC
The spiritual direction and nourishment I received gave me so much comfort in bearing my pain. Transitions was my sure path back into God’s embrace.
Sharlie, Victoria BC
One of the things that was helpful was the “checking in” process each time we met. Having to think about your week made you think all week. We listened to each other with empathy and real caring. We learned to be comfortable opening up to each other. This was a safe place to reveal what was, and to explore what could be.
Mary, Duncan BC
To me, most helpful was that this retreat was Christian based, the leadership, and that we were able to share within the guidelines of confidentiality.
Bo, New Westminister BC
I would recommend this program to others because I have witnessed the incredible healing that took place within our group. I saw people who, in the beginning, were in desperate sadness, and finished with HOPE. This program would be a valuable addition to any Hospice program. Its essence of spirituality is healing, even among persons who do not belong to a church community.
Katherina, Duncan BC
Most helpful to me were the stories of Mary and how her losses were applicable to how I also felt. Also helpful was the support of non-judgemental people in the group.
Liz, Cedar BC
Most helpful was the safety provided for sharing – laying our sorrows to rest – so freeing.
Linda, Regina SK
Wow, this has been a wonderful retreat – tough at times, but hope inspiring! I appreciated the format, the organization, the handouts, the balance of information and sharing as well as the use of various audio, visual and print materials. It’s a wonderful, gentle program for looking at life’s losses. A sincere and heartfelt thank you Sarah for sharing your story with us and for your gentle presence guiding us through our difficult spots on our journeys this weekend. May grace and peace be always with you.
Mona, Saskatoon SK
I found Sarah’s personality and the content of this course very appealing. The small groups were most helpful as well. This course brought up important topics for me. The participants in our group were wonderful. I loved the honesty and the sharing. We felt safe to do our grieving together.
Madelaine, Mill Bay BC
I found the time devoted to my grieving – every week for three hours – was probably the most helpful component, particularly when combined with the experience of sharing my grief with other people who had lost loved ones. The questions Sarah had us reflect on and then share with each other were so helpful. I thoroughly and wholeheartedly recommend this program to others – particularly those who want to give themselves the time and space to acknowledge and move through their grief, and in doing so honour the impact their loved ones had in their life. At the end of the 10-week program I reflected back on the process that we had been gently led through and I felt like Sarah was conducting an unwritten orchestration – the bewilderment and sorrow and softness at the beginning to the connection and the opening to newness at the end.
Michelle, Cobble Hill BC
I felt I could share my sadness and pain, without feeling like I should just shut up. This is a place where you can share your pain – the pain the world does not understand. This group is a place where we can let go and be. I loved the direction each week – going home with hope replacing despair.
Susan, Duncan BC
Sarah made this time a safe place for us to share. Nothing was off limits when it came to our feelings. What a blessing! This program has been a freeing experience. Everyone who has experienced a loss would benefit. I wasn’t sure if this program was what I needed in the beginning BUT...it was absolutely the right thing at the right time.
Allison, Victoria BC
This program allows one an opportunity to look at one’s personal loss in a safe, structured and supportive, understanding context. It allows each participant to move forward at their own pace, knowing that the handouts would allow for further reflection and inner work as needed. I also appreciated the reflection questions and the supplementary reading material that was provided.
Sr. Dawn Marie, Duncan BC
Having a place to go to each week where my mask could come off a little bit was very helpful - after trust built up in the group I could feel a little safer to open up. Group work is always helpful to me, in so many ways.
Laura, Saskatoon SK
The leadership helped to build the level of trust which allowed us to relate to each other at a meaningful level. Trust is needed for disclosure - disclosure is needed for healing. I found this program to be helpful in my attempts to heal my heart.
Luella, Saskatoon SK
Having a safe environment and having understanding people to talk to about our pain and losses was very helpful. I feel I have been struggling a lot, and so I appreciated having a group where we could all share with each other in such an honest, open atmosphere. Looking forward to this group every week has helped me enormously. All the support and caring and everything I have learned here has helped me to get through some hard days.
Nancy, Saskatoon SK
The program is structured in such a way that there is a good balance between receiving input, silent reflection and journaling, and finally, group discussion. The respect shown by Sarah, and by the other participants, encouraged healthy sharing. The notes and the binder that we received are a great gift. It is good to review the information in the binder, and to add more journal entries as I continue to process my grief.
Dorothy, Saskatoon SK
It was a safe haven for exploring deeply spiritual issues in my life. Tremendous encouragement from the facilitator and participants was followed by overwhelming healing of my spirit. I was empowered to move on in my life - much stronger and with a clearer vision.
Susan, Saskatoon SK
Most helpful was the support, love and caring atmosphere of the retreat. It was a wonderful retreat - I felt better upon leaving and am able to see the gift of life more clearly. Thanks - I can live my life and love it!
Joanne, Sandy Bay SK
You, Sarah, as a facilitator made it safe for us to share our innermost deep secrets, knowing that our feelings were neither good or bad. As they were surfacing I was able to look at my life with a different pair of eyes.
Madeleine, Saskatoon SK
Most helpful was the sincerity of Sarah's presentations - her loving, caring way of presenting this program gave me great encouragement and warmth.
Linda, Sandy Bay SK
Most helpful was the time for self-reflection and group discussion. Taking time for myself these past few days has been very healing and brought some peace. My thought processes and self-talk have had a readjustment. I feel that some positive energy and less sadness will be going home with me.
Gerri, Saskatoon SK
Most helpful was being allowed to say anything and feeling safe to say what was on my mind without feeling judged. Thank you Sarah for allowing me to grieve openly and feel safe in doing so. I know I will survive this painful loss and come out of it the other end a new person.
Cinda, Saskatoon SK
Most helpful was sharing stories, the readings, writing letters and having some sabbath time. It is uplifting to hear the stories of others who are suffering loss - there is power in the sharing. Sarah is an excellent facilitator who shares her own stories with honesty and inspired all of us to be open to the process. All trepidation about how difficult this retreat might be faded (and it was difficult at times) but the encouragement and compassion shared made such a difference.
Karen, Saskatoon SK
I appreciated talking about my loss and listening to the grief stories of the others in the group. The readings - "Mary speaks" - were also wonderful to listen to. The "staging for every session was so appropriate and really helped to set the tone. Starting on time for each session and not running over gave me time for myself during this weekend. There is just so much to think about - I needed some time alone to process all of it. I would recommend this program to others. I found it valuable in learning where I was "stuck" - not where I thought! - and learning a concrete way of letting go. I enjoyed staying at Queen's House - the staff and volunteers are amazing. One of the best parts of the whole retreat was ending our time together with the Eucharist.
Judy, Saskatoon SK
Most helpful was the freedom to express my feelings, grief and tears. I felt accepted. I now feel hopeful, free to travel forward. It was hard work - I worked hard during this retreat. I feel tired, yet refreshed and challenged. Ready to go back home now, and face the world.
Angeline, Cudworth SK
Most helpful was the time, space and support to journey into my grief, especially from a Christian context. I will definitely recommend this program to others - I feel it is appropriate for people at any stage of their journey through grief - it allows us to get in touch with where we are, but also shows us a way ahead into a new future. Thank you so much, Sarah, for your skilled and loving leadership during this retreat. You have given all of us an incredible gift.
Suzanne, Saskatoon SK
I will definitely recommend this program to others. So many programs or retreats that are not built around the 12 Step program don't really meet the needs of people in 12 step programs. This one truly does. I have never felt such bonding with all the participants in a retreat. Eating together, the small group work and the small number of participants facilitated this.
Cheryl, Saskatoon SK
Most helpful is how the process took place. Wonderful experience. Praise God.
Lana, Pelican Narrows SK
Your accompanying sheets of "extra" reading material helped to deepen each topic - I also appreciated the small group sharing. I found it so well planned and executed. I will recommend this program to others - many people do not know how to deal with grieving and this program provides a good direction. Thanks so much for your inspiration in providing a program of this nature.
Sr. Claire, Saskatoon SK
I will recommend Transitions to others because this is the best and most in-depth program one can attend. It offers life-skills and helped us to make some goals that will allow us to continue to move forward. The stories used in this program helped me to gain insight and awareness into myself. The references from various books were excellent.
Gladys, Saskatoon SK
Most helpful for me was that it was OK for me to come back a second time to participate in this retreat. I felt so welcomed, taken care of and listened to. I really needed someone to listen to how I am feeling. I love the readings and the prayers. They are so well chosen - words that mean so much, leading me to the right path.
Linda, Sandy Bay SK
Sarah's sensitivity to my unique physical needs was a huge blessing and facilitated my full participation. I found a peace that has alluded me of late. I so appreciated the superb organization of the sessions as well as the strength given to us by Sarah's wonderfully manifested faith.
Gladene, Saskatoon SK
Most helpful to me was feeling safe among the other participants because I learned that they too had lost something precious and could confidentially and openly discuss their loss.
Lin, Saskatoon SK