Finding Purpose and Meaning through the Practice of Living and Dying


Mar 25th, 2025 - Mar 31st, 2025 | Catalina State Park - Tucson, Arizona | Silvia Talavera, Gretchen (Grae) Gerlach

” If you would behold the spirit of death,
Open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For your life and death are one,
Even as the river and sea are one.”
Kahlil Gibran


Life is the primal impulse towards a never ending search for vitality and also the struggle to survive.   Without death the life force could not exist. It has been said we come into the world with death beside us. And in the end our physical death is the ultimate rite of passage. This begs the questions: What is my relationship with my own mortality?  How does the certainty of my own death inform my life? What are contemporary practices to support living and dying in these complex times of cultural and environmental crisis and “the great separation” from self and nature?

Life is uncertain and there are no final answers to these and many more questions, rather an opportunity to begin to cultivate new ways we can deepen our relationship with our mortality.

Keeping death close at hand has been key to helping many at the end of their lives to realize what matters most.  We will come together to explore how we can find ways to shift our attention more consciously towards our own mortality, and look at what emerges for each of us as we hold the tension between being alive while walking towards death. Welcoming in conversations with the land, and each other about death (the hidden teacher), our fears and our relationship with this unknown territory.

 Daily solo time in nature during which time you will explore and foster your own ways of walking through this fertile and mysterious landscape. Culminating in a dawn to dusk contemplative solo and ending our last evening with an offering of a fire ceremony.

This program is offered to all humans who are interested in deepening a natural relationship with death    and bringing the focus toward living life with meaning and joy.

“That you would gather yourself and decide carefully how you can

live the life you would love to look back on from your deathbed. “

– John O’Donohue


Program Questions Contact:  Silvia Talavera at [email protected]



TUITION: $900 - $2,700

Sliding Scale: To honor the vast difference of financial resources among us, all of our program tuition is based on a sliding scale. We set forth no criteria and ask that you pay what is appropriate for your circumstances and access to financial resources. You can see recommendations on using the sliding scale here. If the low end of the sliding scale is still too much, scholarship assistance is available , please reach out to the office for more info.

Cancellations: Cancellations are hard on the participant, the School, and the guides. We respect the unpredictability of life, and we are diligent about running an organization sustainably.

-If you cancel 60 or more days prior to the start date of your program, you will receive a full refund of any tuition paid, minus any deposits.

-If you cancel 59 days or less prior to the start date of your program, and we can fill your spot, then you will receive a full refund of any tuition paid, minus any deposits.

-If we cannot fill your spot, and you cancel within 59 days of the start of your program, then we hold you accountable for paying the tuition at the lowest end of the sliding scale.

Submit enrollment form

 Please fill out and submit the enrollment form and then pay the program deposit below. Before you pay the deposit, please read deposit section below, all deposits are non-refundable and non-transferable. After your enrollment form is complete, please submit all health and liability forms.

Pay program deposit

Deposits: This deposit signifies your commitment to the program and is deducted from the tuition balance. All deposits are non-refundable and non-transferable. They cover the work of the specific course you signed up for, including all communication involved as well as the fee that guides pay to the school administration for the course accounting. 

Additional Deposit: Some programs require a second deposit to help us affirm commitments. Last minute cancellations make it hard to fill openings and incur a loss of income to the School and the guides.

Tuition Balance: Balance of tuition can be paid before or upon arrival. Simply deduct any deposits made from the amount you’ve chosen on the sliding scale.

Submit Waitlist form

This program is full; however, you may add your name to the Waitlist by clicking the Waitlist button below.

Additional course details & Materials


Program Logistics: We will begin with our first meeting on March 25th at 4:00PM and will we end at 4:30 pm March 31st. We will be camping out the entire time. The group camp site (Flycatcher) will be available after 12:00PM on March 25th. The camp ground is available until Noon April1st. An equipment list and a detailed logistics letter will be provided upon enrollment. We encourage you to arrive by 2:00PM to allow time for you to set up before our first meeting

Additional Fees: $120 other fees TBD. All fees to be paid at time of arrival

You will be responsible for bringing your own food and equipment, though we can provide some gear if needed. We ask everyone to come prepared to live self-sufficiently. You will need to bring shelter and clothing suitable for a full range of inclement weather. 

All participants must submit the required health questionnaire and liability form.

If you have questions about the enrollment process contact us at [email protected] or call 760-938-3333.

There is no required reading for this program.

Indigenous lands of the Hohokam, Tohono O’odham and Yaqui Indians.

To learn more about our commitment to regenerative relationships please visit Cultural Relations.