Going Home: Mother and Daughter on Retreat

Here I was, on a retreat with my daughter, trying to grasp what just happened. I had lost my mother. Although it was expected for a long time, it is quite a big thing when it really happens. In that moment the world changes and things will never be the same.
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It is 6:30 a.m. and I am wide awake -- ready to begin our first day at the retreat in Canada.

The morning sun is softly playing with some pink clouds, and there are tiny silver waves on the water of the lake; we are so close that we can almost touch the water. I rush under the shower to wash away the last bit of fatigue.

My daughter waits until her phone wakes her up -- that time of the day being a bit early for her. But when the phone finally goes off, she is prepared: It is time for our first Zumba class.

We dance. We laugh. We sweat. I am getting to a point where this feels very familiar. Hitting the floor to the music from the '70s combined with Brazilian folk. After one hour we both feel awesome, energized, ready to begin the day.

There is breakfast: perfectly made, ueber-delicious vegan coconut French Toasts with -- of course -- maple syrup. We sit alone and not at the community table. My daughter and I did not see each other for six months, as we live in two separate continents. There is so much to talk about so much to share. And also so much to care about, especially about my own mother, who is almost 93 and living in a state of dementia for a few years now.

After breakfast there is mediation and yoga. I love those moments when you turn your senses inward and create that sacred space inside -- just for yourself.

Then the first morning sessions are over and we go to our room feeling content and joyful. Being together seems like the ultimate treat. The phone blinks -- there is a message. My brother sends the news that my mother had passed away. It must have been around the time when we where sitting in our morning group mediation. I know consciously realize that this meditation was particular deep and strong for me.

We spend some time to understand, to realize what happened. Her passing was expected, but nobody knew when that would be. Before I left to go on the retreat I went to see her and to say goodbye as I always did before I went on a trip.

Here I was, on a retreat with my daughter, trying to grasp what just happened. I had lost my mother. Although it was expected for a long time, it is quite a big thing when it really happens. In that moment the world changes and things will never be the same. It was a shift in my own consciousness and a shift in our dynasty. It feels numb, unfamiliar and I experienced the next few hours through a cloud of emotions and my mind tried to understand. I had lost and I had found at the same time. I found the deep connection to my daughter, and it was wonderful to be on a retreat together where we could nurture each other.

We found warmth in the homely and sweet atmosphere of the Canadian resort that is nestled right by a lake with the purest water in the world. This clean energy allowed for our emotions to run freely and our hearts were wide open. It was as if the love of the lineage of my family could easily flow through us.

My daughter Ewa writes:

Nature can be very healing, I think. This ancient, calming quality touches me deeply. It was my first time in Canada and it was exactly what I thought it would be like: sky-high trees, dense forests, clear lakes and, naturally, chipmunks. I was blown away... simply beautiful.

We thought we wanted to do a something special for my Grandma's passing, something sacred, something that made us feel worthy. So we took one of the kayaks and paddled over the water to do a ritual in the midst of this healing nature. We packed a candle and meditated for quite a while in a small, discreet and very peaceful bay -- the birds and the wind in the trees playing a soft tune.

It was such a blessing that we were together at this moment. As we live about 50,000 miles apart from each other, this isn't something you can plan out. But sometimes everything falls into place exactly as it should be. Luckily we didn't plan for a shopping spree in New York or similar, but rather decided on a tranquil mother daughter retreat in the countryside.

When the hearts are open the feelings run deep -- very deep. To get in touch with yourself, with your emotions, some like to call it the inner child, is something truly amazing. And it is up to your surroundings and yourself if these feelings are nurtured or suppressed. In our case the latter was out of the question. The mediation classes, the cleansing diet, and the extraordinary earth energy -- everything was there to embrace and nurture us.

We both mourned and healed together. It is a holiday that neither of us will ever forget. So what is it that makes a retreat special? What is it that makes us look back with a heavy, happy heart? The answer is simple: emotions and the courage to open your heart and experience.

Ewa and Anne were on retreat at the Grail Springs in Ontario, Canada this summer. The Grail Springs is member of Healing Hotels of the World.