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North Okanagan retreat connects bereaved people with nature

The Compassionate Friends had a successful retreat to Whatshan Lake in September
The Compassionate Friends wrapped up their annual retreat to Whatshan Lake on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022. (Sherman Dahl photo)

The Compassionate Friends’ annual retreat to Whatshan Lake was a massive success.

The weekend retreat for bereaved individuals ended on Sunday, Sept 18.

The Compassionate Friends provides friendship, understanding and hope to people who have had a child die at any age and from any cause.

The group held a fundraising gala in June at Wings Vernon in order to raise money for the annual retreat, which is about living with the loss of a loved one. By all accounts, the fundraiser was a big success.

Sherman Dahl of the Emily Dahl Foundation was in attendance at the retreat to meet and present to the group. Also in attendance was energetic organizer Kelli Rose, along with many other parents and families.

The retreat gives the Compassionate Friends group some quiet time in nature, and a chance to sit outside or somewhere peaceful with a cup of tea.

“It may be hard at first while confronting feelings that come up, but try and sit with it, listen to your heart and see where it takes you,” the group said.

“Walking in nature can truly help.”

Rose has developed the retreat to Whatshan Lake into a “green mental health” opportunity, helping people to be present in the moment outdoors in nature.

The retreat can be expressed as rebuilding a connection to one’s environment and explains that getting in touch of one’s sense of oneness with the universe can help with feelings of being alone in the world.

Some call it “grounding,” that feeling of being connected to the earth by walking barefoot on the grass, listening to birds or feeling the wind.

“I have come every year since Emily passed away in 2019. This year me and my Frenchie ‘Frank the Tank’ went for a hike to the Hippie Hole and had a wonderful time with this compassionate group. This helps so much,” said Dahl.

In his presentation to the group, Dahl shared the work of Joanne Cacciatore who wrote the book Grieving is Loving. Cacciatore teaches that if you love, you will grieve — and nothing is more mysteriously central to becoming fully human.

The Emily Dahl Foundation believes that the following quote from Grieving is Loving sums up the connection people have to the rest of the world if they stop and tune into it:

“Every tear you shed, and all the countless tears shed by myriad others throughout time and space have become drops in the vast oceanic story of loving and grieving.”

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Brendan Shykora
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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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