Residential – Living with Dying: Practices and Practicalities for Facing Our Final Exit

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Residential – Living with Dying: Practices and Practicalities for Facing Our Final Exit

Lama Willa Blythe Baker, Lama Liz Monson, Cheryl A. Giles, PsyD, Chris Berlin
November 9, 2023 - November 13, 2023

This is the residential attendance option for the retreat. If you’d like to register for the online option, please click here.

Death is a topic that we often shy away from, and its realities are hidden in our cultural context. Yet the Buddha taught that contemplating death is a practice of liberation – one that vastly enhances the quality of our life.

By looking directly at death, we access our appreciation and joy for this human life and its transformative potential. Join Lama Liz Monson, Lama Willa Blythe Baker, Dr. Cheryl Giles, PsyD and Chris Berlin, MDiv for a unique retreat in which we delve deeply into the liberating practices of death and dying, drawing on the profound resources of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.

Among topics explored include contemplative practices  for facing our own death and preparing for the bardo (the in-between state between death and rebirth),  spiritual care for the dying, Buddhist rites of passage for helping others at the time of death, and practical preparation for dying in our time and place.

What to bring

  • A photograph (framed if possible) of someone you love whose death transformed you. We will set these up on a communal “benefactor shrine”.
  • A container to use as a ‘death basket’: a basket, sturdy cloth bag, or wooden box). It should be large enough to hold approximately one gallon jug of milk.
  • A few compact items that you would like to have nearby if you were to unexpectedly find yourself in the Intensive Care Unit of a hospital for an extended stay (a statue, framed photos, a rosary for example). These are “starter items” for the death basket.
  • A notebook for writing


(All times are Eastern time zone)

First Day — Hybrid session begins around 7:00 pm. (see Residential info for check-in times)

Full-Day Schedule — Morning meditation 7:00 am; Breakfast break 8:30-10:00 am; Lunch break 12:00-2:00 pm; Dinner break 5:30-7:00 pm.

Last Day — The closing session typically ends around noon followed by lunch for residential retreatants. Online-only closing sessions may occur after a lunch break.

These times are just for reference. An expanded schedule will be provided in pre-retreat information emailed during the week prior to the event.


NDF COVID POLICY: Please check this page of our website for our current COVID policy. Incorporate best practices for COVID-19 mitigation in your lifestyle and travel, at least during the 10 days before you visit Wonderwell. Use prevention strategies when traveling.

Recent Updates:

  • As of April 1, vaccinations are no longer required.
  • As of April 15, masking is optional, though masks are strongly encouraged if you have respiratory symptoms or belong to a group that is at higher risk for COVID-19.

TESTING: A negative COVID-19 test result is required before admittance to the retreat. Please test within 24 hours prior to your expected arrival at Wonderwell, using either a PCR test or a rapid (at-home) test kit. Please bring a rapid test kit with you to Wonderwell. We will have a limited number of test kits available for during-retreat testing.

SHARED ROOMS: If you register for a shared room, you are agreeing that you accept that you will be sharing it with someone you don’t know. Men and women who don’t know each other will never be assigned to the same room. You may always register for a shared double room with someone you know, as long as space is available. There is a box on the registration to indicate who you’d like for a roommate, and we’ll do the best we can.


Wonderwell Mountain Refuge strives to offer retreats in a manner that is inclusive for persons of all means. If the full retreat cost would create an undue financial burden, we encourage you to apply for a scholarship. Please visit this page on our website learn more about financial aid.

Depending on the type of work that you do, you may be eligible for a Hemera Contemplative Fellowship. Please click on this link for more information.

Please do not apply for financial assistance until after you have registered for the retreat.


Wonderwell charges a $75 cancellation fee for residential (onsite) retreat cancellations more than 4 weeks before the start of a retreat. Any cancellations between 4 weeks to 11 days prior to the program are charged a $150 cancellation fee. For any cancellations 10 or fewer days prior to the start date of the program, no refunds are offered.

However, if you are feeling ill or feel you might have been exposed to the COVID virus, please cancel your attendance at any Wonderwell retreat even at the last minute. In this case, we will provide a full refund of your payment.

If you decide to transfer from residential to online attendance, any cancellation fee will be determined based on the time remaining before the start of the retreat.


The user account feature of our website provides a secure place where materials from your retreats can be posted and accessed. If you don’t have an account already, you’ll want to set one up as soon as you register.

  • If you haven’t already created an NDF user account, please visit our website to Create an account as soon as possible.
  • User accounts are manually synced after the retreat. Please be aware that this does not happen automatically with registration. It is a separate, manual operation.
  • Resources and Recordings: The retreat resources and recordings will be available in your user account. Recordings must be edited before they are posted. We appreciate your patience!  You will receive an email letting you know they are available in your dashboard.  If you have any questions about resources and recordings, please email [email protected].

Please visit the Technical FAQ page on our website for useful information about user accounts, helpful tutorials, as well as answers to many other questions. You can contact [email protected]


Wonderwell Mountain Refuge Full Calendar


Nov. 9-13, 2023. Check-in at Wonderwell is between 3:00 and 5:00 pm on the day of arrival. The retreat ends at noon on the final day and a light lunch may be offered. We ask that people leave Wonderwell by 2:00 pm so staff can finish their work and get home themselves.

[email protected]

  • Commuting or Self-Contained Vehicle Camping - $396.00
  • Private room with queen bed and ensuite bath - $1,044.00
  • Private room with queen bed and hall bath - $952.00
  • Private room with twin bed and hall bath - $952.00
  • Shared room with ensuite bath - $724.00
  • Shared room with hall bath - $664.00

If the type of room you require is sold out or no rooms at all are available at Wonderwell, you can email [email protected] to be placed on a waiting list in case there are cancellations. You also might want to consider the commuter option. A list of nearby accommodations (including some with sangha members and friends) can be found by clicking on the More Details link under the Commuter option.

A limited number of hearing assistance devices are available at Wonderwell. Please indicate in the comment box on the registration form if you would like to reserve one of these devices. Devices reserved on a first-come, first-served basis.

Full access to all recordings and retreat materials through your user account.

Register Here

About the Teachers

Lama Willa Blythe Baker

Lama, Founding Teacher, Spiritual Co-Director
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Lama Liz Monson

Lama, Managing Teacher, Spiritual Co-Director
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Cheryl A. Giles, PsyD

Visiting Teacher, Contemplative Care Instructor
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Chris Berlin

Meditation Teacher
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