Shedding the burdens of grief through words and movement

6 to 13 April 2019


Does your grief weigh you down?

Loss is deeply personal, and its effects difficult to express. In his poem For Grief, John O’Donohue says, “No one knows what has been taken from you / When the silence of absence deepens.” Loss and grief come most obviously with endings or death, but can also manifest with life changes that are not necessarily “negative”, for example changing jobs, having children, even getting married!

The social expectation that we’ll be able to “move on” can make the necessary grieving even more lonely, leaving us unheard in our struggles. Acknowledging and working with grief can make the journey back to your Self less lonely and the path more certain.

For the first time ever, we are combining the powerful processes of both grief work and bodywork at La Scellerie. This week-long retreat will mainly focus on how we can recover from grief using an imaginative and stepped approach, led by Susan Hollins. This will be combined and supported with bodywork in the form of the Alexander Technique, taught by Patrick Ardagh-Walter, and Yoga taught by Joo Teoh.

Susan has been supporting people through change and loss for over 30 years. Over the course of six days, she will guide and enable you to engage deeply with your grief using memory, feeling and imagination, in a step by step approach. The aim is to enable you to move  beyond the pain to a reach a place of resolution and peace.  Each day you will have two hours working with Susan to learn this method, with exercises and contemplations to do afterwards. 

Each morning will begin with a movement class taught by Joo. The classes are rooted in the fundamentals of Yoga, and will incorporate breathing exercises and useful practices from Qigong and Chinese Medicine. Classes are suitable for all levels of ability and experience. More about Joo.

Every afternoon, there will be a group class in the Alexander Technique taught by Patrick. The Alexander Technique is an effective means of rediscovering the physical and mental freedom which our unconscious and self-harming habits have stolen from us. More about Patrick

Each day there you will have some personal work to do during your free time. You can stay to enjoy the woodland and garden at La Scellerie, rest at the guesthouse, or visit some of the very special historic locations nearby, which may provide a suitable backdrop for your contemplations. (See nearby attractions.)

Three wholesome and healthy meals will be provided each day. Accommodation will be in a nearby guesthouse. To allow more personal space and attention, the retreat is limited to a maximum of 8 people.


About Susan

In her previous work as an Anglican Priest and as a NHS Healthcare Chaplain, Susan has supported many people in and through major life crises. Providing support for people through loss and grief is a major thread in the fabric of Susan’s work. Combining her training in Psychodynamic Therapy, Life Coaching, and The Grief Recovery Method, enables her to work deeply and empathically with people, while being practically grounded.

More about Susan Hollins


Logistics & Prices

Arrival day is Saturday 6 April and departure is on Saturday 13 April 2019. The course will be held at La Scellerie. Accommodation will be at a guesthouse approximately 10 minutes away. The entire guesthouse will be booked solely for the participants of this retreat, so it will be a private and safe space for this process.

All meals will be mainly vegetarian, with the option for fish. Breakfast and lunch will be served at La Scellerie. Dinner will be served at the guesthouse. Please inform us of your dietary requirements and allergies when you book.

There will be dogs at La Scellerie and the guesthouse. If you have severe allergies or fear of dogs, please let us know when you book. 


€1100 per person (10% discount if you pay by 31 January 2019). We wish to keep this retreat relatively small, so that you get plenty of personal attention from us.

Included in this price:

  • All classes with Susan, Patrick and Joo

  • Three meals a day

  • Accommodation

  • Daily transfers between the guesthouse and La Scellerie

Non-participating partners are welcome at €600 per person for accommodation and meals.

Your travel costs to France are not included in this price.



Dinard airport and Caen airport are the nearest airports. By train, there are fast train services from Paris to Caen (then a transfer to Saint-Lô or Lisieux), or Lyon to Rennes (then a transfer to Coutances).

Travel from the UK

Saturday 6th April is the arrival day. We will be here to welcome you, help you settle in, and there will be a welcome dinner that evening. There will be no classes this day.

Saturday 13th April is the departure day. Breakfast will be provided, and we will be on hand for wrapping up the week and sending you on your way. There will be no classes on this day.

We have tried all route options from southern England to Normandy. The options below are our recommendations based on comfort, convenience and price, but are by no means the only way to get here.

By air: Flybe, from London Southend airport to Caen Carpiquet airport. Approx £80 return.

Southend to Caen on 6 April    

  • Depart Southend at 11:40

  • Arrive Caen at 13:45

Caen to Southend on 13 April

  • Depart Caen at 14:10

  • Arrive Southend at 14:10

Southend airport station has a direct train from London Liverpool Street. Journey time is approx. 52 mins.

By sea: These are our recommended crossings on Brittany Ferries from Portsmouth to Caen:

Portsmouth to Caen on 6 April    

  • Depart Portsmouth at 08:15

  • Arrive Caen at 15:00

Caen to Portsmouth on 13 April

  • Depart Caen at 16:30

  • Arrive Portsmouth at 21:15

For foot passengers on the crossings listed above, transfers to and from La Scellerie are included in the retreat price. Please be aware that Portsmouth Harbour Station is a 10-minute taxi ride to the Brittany Ferries passenger terminal. There are often taxis at Portsmouth Harbour Station, but it may be wise to book one in advance.

If you choose to drive, and if you are willing to share your ride with a foot passenger, please let us know so we can pair you up.

By train: From London St. Pancras International to Caen or Coutances, changing at Paris. A little longer than flying, but without the airport hassle and with fewer baggage restrictions. Currently around £115 return fare. .