For me and my husband Jonathan, 55, it was a baby. After 10 years of trying for a family and five rounds of IVF, we looked at adoption.

And last summer, a tiny bundle of joy came into our lives and we loved him fiercely.

But our joy turned to despair when, earlier this year, just before his first birthday, we had to give him back to his birth family and have never seen him again.

It made me howl like a wounded animal.

We had to get away – but would a break help or hinder our grief?

Searching for solace

We wanted space to grieve and to process the shock. So we flew to Salzburg, then took a bus to the traditional lakeside Austrian village of St Wolfgang.

We spent four hours a day hiking and crying without having to explain ourselves. But still, the thought of returning home filled me with dread.

I once read that fasting gives you resonance of spirit and calmness of mind, and I was willing to try anything to take away the pain.

Jonathan thought I was mad, but I found the Malteser Klinik von Weckbecker, situated on the edge of a nature reserve in Bavaria, online and booked myself in for two weeks while my husband returned to work.

Resetting the body

After touching down in Frankfurt, then taking a 60-minute train ride to Fulda and a 20-minute taxi to Bad Brückenau, I was welcomed by a doctor who gave me a hug and reassured me that fasting would help me heal.

A typical day would be a foot spa and exercise bike session before a carrot juice breakfast, followed by a swim or gym session.

Next came osteopathy massage followed by a lunch of watery potato soup, before a Kartoffelsack treatment involving steamed potatoes in a linen bag being placed on your liver for 30 minutes to draw out toxins.

You could, if you wanted, have colon therapy. In the afternoon, I rested on my balcony or went Nordic walking in the woods.

Come evening, I’d go to meditation classes or the sauna, then have herbal tea for dinner.

Malteser Klinik is functional and purposeful, but it is also clean and well-equipped with a swimming pool, gym, sauna, hair and beauty salon, a library and a chapel.

The staff are warm and helpful, but most do not speak English. Fortunately, most guests do, and I met lovely people from all over the world.

The verdict

Did it help? Grief comes in waves and in the beginning they were 100ft tall. In between the waves, treatments helped give the days structure.

After a few days of fasting, I had new levels of energy, my senses were heightened and I started finding joy in the simple things again.

It did help, and I’m glad I went, but there is no bypassing grief.

In the end, I realised that what I really needed was my husband, and when the two weeks were up I was thankful to be back with the only person who really understood what I was going through.

Want to know more?

  • Classic Fasting packages at Malteser Klinik von Weckbecker start from £766 for seven nights (
  • Treatments including counselling, massage and osteopathy cost from £60 per hour.
  • Frankfurt Airport is 79 miles away. Flights from the UK start from £28 return.

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