meadowlark retreats

Meadowlark Retreat venue at Spirit Hill Farm, Sebastopol, CA. Beautiful private home and vacation rental property generously donated by Carolyn Yates.

In April 2010, we launched the first Meadowlark Retreat, a grief support weekend retreat for mothers who had suffered the sudden loss of a child. In 2014, we launched our first retreat for fathers. Today, Meadowlark Retreats continue to honor and comfort mothers and fathers as they learn to deal with their new way of life—a life without a child they adored—providing much-needed support as they live the unthinkable and try to see their way to hope.

The weekend retreats are designed to provide intentional and loving care. From nutritious and lovingly prepared meals to the peaceful surroundings, we support participants both physically and emotionally. By attending to every detail with compassion, we create a place of safety, caring and validation. Participants know that when they share their grief it will be understood on a visceral level by a community of other parents who are offering support and empathy.

Over the course of the weekend, mothers and fathers participate in multiple facilitated grief group sessions. Using skilled facilitation, grief counselors guide them through sharing their thoughts, fears, anger, sadness, confusion and despair. Grieving parents can share without fear of judgment—there is space for every thought and feeling.

Between sessions, participants have free time to continue sharing with each other, take alone time, enjoy nature and find additional support. The retreat facilitators truly cater to the needs of all those in attendance. If a participant can benefit from an individual session, facilitators split up to provide the personal support that is needed.

The death of a child feels unnatural. Mothers are not wired to survive their children. One of the only paths through healing is to be with other mothers who are on the same journey.

—Shelly Gillan, Meadowlark Retreat Facilitator and Director of Client Services at Kara

Retreat Schedule

Mother's Retreat
February 2 - 4, 2024
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MOTHER's Retreat
May 17 - 19, 2024
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Mother's Retreat
August 23-25, 2024
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Mother's Retreat
Octover 11-13, 2024
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Date TBD
FATHER'S Retreat
Date TBD


Leslie Chin, MA, MBA
Retreat Planner & Co-Facilitator
Shelly Gillian, MFT
Retreat Client Screening & Co-Facilitator
Carolyn Yates
Director of Learning & Development at Google
Stacey Redman
President & Founder of Tim Griffith Foundation
Debbie Lee
Retreat Planner & Co-Facilitator
Maria Segal
Community Volunteer & Co-Facilitator
Jim Santucci, CPA
Executive Director of Kara Grief Support for Children, Teens, Families & Adults

You will be just surrounded by love and by grace and by words of assistance and wisdom by fellow moms and the facilitators. It was really invaluable for me. I felt like I was in a cocoon of warmth and acceptance

Meadowlark Retreat Mother

There really has been nowhere that offers anything like this—where mothers can come together for an intensely sacred, safe weekend that invites them to go into the place of their grief that rarely is seen by anyone.

Shelly Gillan,
Meadowlark Retreat Facilitator


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