Click here to learn more: 2019 navigating loss sponsorship

Experienced and empathetic, retreat leader Donna Marie Todd is a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist®, widow, and women’s retreat and conference speaker. She has edited and published magazines for women for over 25 years.


A Hospice Bereavement Coordinator’s Experience:

“If I were asked to describe this retreat in one word, I would use the word POWERFUL. I use the word POWERFUL because I was witness to and a part of a process that empowered women who have suffered trauma and significant loss….who lost their husband, best friend, lover, companion, and teammate, with whom they shared a life for several years.

I watched these women connect with and support each other emotionally. I witnessed and experienced understanding, empathy, validation, compassion, strength, hope, (and some hugs). Not only did the women feel empowered when telling their story, they also were encouraged to take very good care of themselves. As a group, the women learned and practiced ways to make themselves a priority by caring for their bodies and souls, through deep breathing, meditation, guided imagery, massage, good nutrition, adequate sleep and stress relief.

One of the most powerful things I observed that day is that the women were able to see a future without their husband. They were able to verbalize hopes, dreams, (whether big or small) and identified some action steps to bring these goals to fruition.

I was pleased to be able to bring this retreat to my community and honored to have met the founder, Donna Marie Todd, and the women at the retreat. It was a powerful experience, and the women were truly an inspiration to me and to each other. I would strongly recommend other hospice agencies to bring A Widow’s Tale retreat to their community to give grieving women a voice, a chance to make connections, to learn self-care, and to make plans and have hope for the future.”

Jennifer Cox,
Bereavement Coordinator                                                                                                   Family Hospice of Altoona, PA, UPMC

A Hospice Social Worker’s Impressions:

Donna Marie Todd’s retreat leadership blended personal experience and professional skills to engage, validate, empathize, educate, and grow the retreat guests.  Her open, honest, and entertaining personality put the guests at ease with the retreat format, with each other, and most importantly with their grief.  Using a combination of large and small groups Donna Marie led the guests through education and application of principles to affirm, to promote healing, and to flourish anew through their unique grief journey.  It was obvious she put all her personal and professional self into the curriculum and the result was a beautiful balance of grief and joy, experience and education.  As an outside observer I watched women bond through tears and laughter, make new connections, and leave feeling empowered to start a new chapter in their lives.  It was simply beautiful.

—Brittany P Feathers, BSW

Your retreat sponsorship includes an honorarium of $1695 for the retreat leader plus travel and lodging (if required). Navigating Loss workbooks are provided by the founder for the participants.  You are also responsible for providing the retreat venue, lunch for participants, and snacks for the day. It is strongly suggested that you charge participants a modest registration fee so that they are invested in their own healing.

“Your weekend with us was so well-received. People have already been talking about having you return.”
Patricia Lind, Carol Stream, Illinois

Talk to a widow who helped bring this retreat to her community,

Barb Crowder

Email Barb at

Talk to a pastor
who brought the retreat to his community.
Email Rev. Ambrose at

“What I liked was not only the sharing with other widows, which is SO wonderful, but also receiving the expertise of a widow-leader.”
Retreat Participant Susan Smialowicz

“The event she created for us was a phenomenal success. She went above and beyond what we had hoped to receive from her and I would highly recommend her to any organization!” Cynthia Park, PhD, LPC

“I highly recommend these retreats and the one-on-one Widow’s Recovery System for that ever present and growing group of widows in your congregation. What better gift than to help them find their personal seeds to recovery. Many times real pastoral care is helping others find the someone that CAN help them find their answers.”  Rev. Bert Ambrose – Emmanuel UCC – Valley City OH

You can help the widowed women in your area
by sponsoring this special, day-long retreat.
Widows attending may be 6 months to 25 years out from the death of their spouse.
700,000 women are widowed in the US each year
and this unique and powerful program helps them rebuild their lives.
These healing retreats are sponsored
by hospitals, hospice bereavement programs, medical practices,
civic groups, and churches.

Click this link to learn how to sponsor your retreat:
navigating loss sponsorship

Listen to an audio post with retreat hosts:

Donna Marie is a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist®

“If a widow is not as independent as she needs to be or has reached a plateau, the retreat is a MUST! If a widow is well on her way to recovering somewhat, the retreat is MOST valuable!” Leslie Huntley

Why Widowed Women Should Come to A Widow’s Tale Retreat

“This retreat is excellent – you should go – it’s so very helpful!”

Erma McGimpsey

To be with other women who understand.

The first thing a widow notices at this retreat are the other women who “get” what they’ve been through. Often, the retreat is the first time they have shared their story and been honest about the difficulties they have experienced. Everyone wants widows to recover in three days and say, “I’m fine” when they’re not.

“If you are feeling it, thinking it or questioning it, someone else is too! It’s a place to talk through it!” Tina Wilson

Many widows are exhausted from care-giving before the death and the retreat gives them a place to recharge your batteries.

The retreat offers a whole day of comfort and renewal where the women don’t have to pretend everything is okay. They share stories and ideas for success with other widows and assess where they are as a single person and dream about where they’d like to be a year from now.

“The retreat is a wealth of information, with the chance to connect with others in the same situation.” Jeanne Schwarting

It’s a chance to discover who they are without their spouse.

Many of the women you work with were married a long time. Their identity was molded by their marriage. Discovering who they are “without the other” is really tough stuff.

“I thought I was the only one…being with the other widows, hearing their story and feelings was so great.” Elizabeth Bauer

Participants learn new strategies and get useful information.

A Widow’s Tale retreat is stuffed full of useful information that helps widows recover from loss and  gives them strategies they can use to rebuild vibrant lives. It has sessions about handling stress, getting better sleep, rebuilding their immune system and improving their emotional, physical and spiritual health.

“Donna Marie is an excellent facilitator. I liked the stories…it was anecdotal, informative and humorous.” Dee Dee Messinger

Widows will spend the whole day relaxing, connecting, laughing and renewing.

The retreat is all-inclusive and includes a “ladies lunch,” all retreat materials and snacks. In addition to the retreat itself, each participant receives a take-home workbook with the materials from the retreat that can keep them moving forward into a new solo life!

“This retreat allows you to be open about feelings that may have been hidden or suppressed.” Karen Marshall

Your area’s widows deserve it.

They’ve been through a lot and most have been faithful servants to their churches, spouses, children,  and community. Treat them to a day of gentle self-care, eye-opening ideas, stories, laughter and other women who get it. Hint: Retreat participants should wear comfy clothes and get ready to have a great time!

“The leadership was excellent and kept the program moving. I was surprised at how fast the time went! It provides positive reinforcement for the future.” Lynn Black

Email to host or sponsor A Widow’s Tale Retreat or call Donna Marie at 828-407-6023.

“This retreat is extremely valuable to widows at any stage of their grieving.”
Rev. Sally Woodard