Carefarm Retreat for Traumatic Grief


Carefarm Retreat for Traumatic Grief

A contemplative retreat for traumatic bereavement at the Selah Carefarm near Sedona, Arizona

The Selah Carefarm & Andy’s Sanctuary offer a unique evidence-based therapeutic and safe community to receive counseling and participate in remembrance rituals, connect with others (humans and non humans) who have suffered loss, and find space for your grief in a safe, natural environment.

Program Information

Program Structure for Traumatic Grief
  • Our programs are 3 or 4 structured days of “selah” – pausing to be with grief.
  • These programs are facilitated by highly skilled practitioners who are CBC trained.
  • The program includes individual counseling, mutual engagement with more than 45 rescued animals, ritual, expressive arts, time in restorative spaces, outdoor activities, working with nature, and contemplative practice.
  • Vegan foods are available from our pantry for light breakfasts and lunches, and a group dinner (first evening) is provided.
Meals & Activities

Complimentary (Vegan) foods in our pantry and refrigerator will be available to guests at the sanctuary to prepare (light) breakfasts, lunches, and dinners on your own. Dinner will also be provided on the first evening during the retreat. There are plenty of places to eat nearby, or you may bring in your own vegan food/meals. All meals at the carefarm are vegan.

Over the course of the multi-day program, we will build community with the following activities:

  • Meditation
  • Time with the animals/carefarm
  • Individual and/or group counseling depending on the program selected
  • Creative arts therapy and grief rituals
"I don’t know anything about consciousness. I just try to teach my students how to hear the birds sing."
Roshi Shunryu Suzuki

Program Descriptions

We have various types of therapeutic programs available that vary based on their counseling staff interactions. Please review the descriptions below to see which program may be right for you.

Thursday evening – Sunday morning. This retreat-style program focuses completely on group interactions which include a group introduction, group counseling sessions, group art therapy, group time with the carefarm animals, and a group closing ceremony including grief rituals to honor your child(ren).

  • Benefits include an interactive experience with the Selah Carefarm staff and all the bereaved parents attending. Former participants have valued the deeper connection they made with others by fully participating in the program together; hearing others’ stories during the group counseling sessions; processing their grief together with others; and enjoying cooking, eating, campfires, hikes, or other activities after program hours. This program may be right for you if you already have an individual counselor, simply want the community of other bereaved parents, and/or enjoy sharing your time with others throughout the program.
  • Challenges may include shared group counseling time that limits your ability to go deeply into your own story with an individual counselor. This program may not be best for you if you wish to have more specialized individual counseling time to explore your story more deeply, especially lifelong or  complex trauma.

Tuesday evening – Saturday morning. This retreat-style program is a mix between our group program and our personal grief visits. It incorporates scheduled individual counseling sessions (2 hours each day for 3 days), as well as a group introduction, group art therapy, group time with the carefarm animals, and a group closing ceremony with grief rituals to honor your loved ones.

  • Benefits include an interactive experience with the Selah Carefarm staff and the bereaved family members attending as well as individual time with a counselor go deeply into your own story. This program may be best for you if you wish to have a balance of group time with others as well as some specialized individual counseling time to explore your story more deeply. You may also have time after the structured hours to enjoying cooking, eating, campfires, hikes, or other activities after program hours. This program may be right for you if you are a bereaved family member who values the combination of community with others balanced with personal counseling time.
  • Challenges may include limited time with the other grievers and their stories because they are sharing that individually with their counselor. We are also limited to the number of participants based on our counseling staff available. If you are a bereaved parent, this program does include more than bereaved parents, so the losses shared may include the loss of a partner, sibling, parent, or other loved one.

‎This program is personally designed with our Family Services Coordinator to fit your specific needs. It may include individual, couple, or family visits that last from a few hours without an overnight stay, or it may extend for several days or weeks if there is room and staff availability to support your needs (you may also chose to stay offsite). Typical visits include 2-4 hours of counseling, art therapy, grief rituals, and/or time with the animals each day that can take place in the respite house offices, outside in our gardens, on the carefarm with our animals, down by the creek, or offsite on a hiking trail. There is no structured schedule, but our counselors remain flexible to accommodate your needs within your session time.

  • Benefits may include working individually with a counselor for brief or extended sessions to go deeply into your own story depending on your needs. You will also be able to specialize your visit to accommodate your desired activities. This program may be best for you if you are not working with an individual counselor near you who assists in processing your grief, you wish to have only specialized individual counseling time to explore your story more deeply, you have a complex story that needs more personalized counseling time, and/or you desire a more reflective private experience limited contact with other grievers.
  • Challenges include limited interaction with other Selah Carefarm staff and bereaved family members since there will be no structured program during this time and there may not be others staying in the house at the same time. This program may not be right for you wish to connect with other grieving family members. We are also limited by the number counseling staff available during the time you wish to visit.

‎If you are a griever that just needs a quiet place to get away to feel your grief without being judged, you can reserve a room in our respite house, Andy’s Sanctuary, if there is room available. You just pay the nightly room cost without the additional services. This provides you access to the respite house and upper areas (labyrinth, moon garden, reflection pond, art cabin, etc.), but does not include counseling, art therapy, or time with the animals without scheduling a staff member (additional cost).


Will I see Dr. Joanne Cacciatore while I'm at the Selah Carefarm?

Dr. Cacciatore may be at the Selah Carefarm at various times. However, she’s a full-time professor with ASU and is often in research meetings, analyzing data, grading papers, meeting with students, or taking some too- rare ‘down time’ when she can find it, and the few clients she sees are booked well in advance. She’s also regularly out of town for speaking engagements. If you do see her, feel free to say hello or wave! Our counselors and staff are highly trained and follow Dr. Cacciatore’s model. We are confident you will find the compassionate support you need from our staff and counselors during your stay. Although Dr. Cacciatore would love to visit with each attendee and honor your loved one with an open heart, please understand that she may not be available during your stay due to her ongoing commitments throughout the year. Thank you so much for understanding.

Who are the clients of the Selah Carefarm?

While we would like to be able to help everyone who is grieving, sadly we lack the available resources in land space, housing, counselors, and finances. Our primary focus, thus, is for those who have lost a child at any age and from any cause or those who have lost a primary family member (spouse/partner, sibling, grandchild, parent) to homicide, suicide, Covid-19 or prolonged illness, or other untimely death at an unexpected age. We hope one day a carefarm that uses our model will have the resources to provide aid to anyone who has lost a loved one.

What are the check-in times for a program or visit?

For our group and individual programs, the check-in time is between 3-5 pm. Dinner will be served at 5pm on the first evening, followed by a group introduction and meeting at 6pm. If you will arrive late, please contact us to let us know so we can plan accordingly.

For personal grief visits, the check-in time is between 3-5 pm. No meals will be prepared but you are welcome to prepare your own meal or leave the carefarm during your stay.

What if I want to spend more time with the animals?

If you’d like to spend more time with the animals than scheduled in your program or private schedule, please let one of the counselors know. Chores take place in the morning and evening, and we can get you started with one of our farm hands to help care for the animals during your stay.

For personal grief visits, the check-in time is between 3-5 pm. No meals will be prepared but you are welcome to prepare your own meal or leave the carefarm during your stay.

What are the check-out times for a program or visit?

Check-out times on the day of departure are at 11am. This allows our staff to prepare the rooms for our next guests. We ask that the morning before you depart, you wash all sheets and towels, then remake your bed before departure. If you have an early morning departure and are limited on time, please put your laundry in the washer and start it. Then let a staff person know so they can ensure it is dried and returned to the room.

For personal grief visits, the check-in time is between 3-5 pm. No meals will be prepared but you are welcome to prepare your own meal or leave the carefarm during your stay.

What if I want to stay longer than the scheduled program?

We do allow for extended stays in Andy’s Sanctuary. Please let the Family Services Coordinator know you would like to arrive early or stay longer. If there is space available in the house, the coordinator can extend your stay.

Can I stay offsite for a program or visit?

Yes, this is a great option for those who wish to bring an animal or other family members (especially children) with them who will not be participating in the programs. We just ask that you plan to attend the full scheduled program and recommend additional time after the structured schedule to connect with other grievers staying in the house.

Can I bring my pet?

No. We love animals but for the safety of all humans and animals, we cannot allow grievers to bring pets with them. Our large guardian dogs are not friendly to new animals. Staying offsite in a nearby AirBnB that allows pets may be a great option. If you would like help finding one, please let us know and our staff may be able to help.

If I am not vegan, can I bring my own non vegan food?

No, this is not permitted. Our core spiritual principle is Ahimsa, the practice of non-violence to all living beings. We love our grievers and our animals alike, so we ask that you strictly adhere to our guidelines and read your food labels if you bring anything onto the carefarm. If we find non vegan food in the pantry or refrigerator, it will be discarded.

Can we leave the carefarm during the program or visit?

Yes. We ask for your full participation during the scheduled program or appointments, but you are free to come and go as you wish. There are several recommended restaurants, hikes, and activities around our local area and our staff can help you decide which is right for you.

If I am a smoker, where can I smoke?

We aim to maintain a clean and eco-friendly environment on the carefarm. Therefore, we do not permit smoking onsite. However, you are free to leave the carefarm as needed. As a reminder, we do not allow alcohol or non-prescription drugs onsite either. We find that is most helpful to allowing grievers to inhabit their grief through fully accessing their feelings.

What if I want to bring my family or a group of grievers to participate with me in a group program?

We often have program participants who bring a spouse or other family member to participate. However, there may be limited space for a larger number of participants during a scheduled program. If you would like to schedule a private group program with four or more members and there is not availability on our current schedule, please talk with our Family Services Coordinator about scheduling a private group program.

Can children participate in the programs?

Because of our open waterways and animals, we can only allow children over 7 visit the carefarm for their safety. We also realize that some grievers may be sensitive around children, therefore we do offer family week programs and personal grief or day visits that can include children between 8 – 17 years of age.

If I am moved to donate to support the Selah Carefarm or sponsor a memorial to my loved one, how can I do that?

We are a non-profit organization that depends on donations and sponsorships to help maintain our carefarm, care for our animals, keep costs affordable for grievers, and provide scholarships to grievers who need financial support to participate. Therefore, if you feel moved to donate or create a sponsored memorial, we would be grateful for your generosity. You can donate directly on our website homepage through the link provided here. If you wish to create a sponsorship, you can contact our Executive Director, Kelli Montgomery, to determine what opportunities are available.

How can I continue receiving grief counseling services after leaving the carefarm?

We have a Compassionate Bereavement Care (CBC) provider training program where we train medical and mental health professionals from around the world. If you are looking for a trained grief-sensitive counselor near you, please visit our CBC Provider Directory. If there is not one in your area, you may widen your search and find someone in your state that will work remotely with you. We also offer online support groups that many who have been to the carefarm attend.

How can I get a grief mentor to assist with my grief journey?

Our HOPE Mentor program is a group of bereaved parents and family members who are further along in their grief journey and wish to help new grievers navigate their grief. If you are interested in a mentor, please contact our Executive Director, Kelli Montgomery, It will be helpful to share a few details about your own story that may be important in matching you with a mentor who may share similarities with their own story.

If I want to purchase Selah Carefarm merchandise, is there anything available?

Yes, many participants want to go home with merchandise after spending several days with us. Currently, we do have t-shirts, tumblers, hats, calendars, workbooks, and books available for purchase onsite. This will save on shipping costs if you prefer to pick it up in person rather than online.

Register for the Traumatic Grief Program