JAGST offers Widow’s Retreat to help with grieving processWomen who have lost their husbands will have the opportunity to learn about the grieving process and share their experiences with other widows at the Widow’s Retreat in September.
By: Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun
Women who have lost their husbands will have the opportunity to learn about the grieving process and share their experiences with other widows at the Widow’s Retreat in September.
The retreat, offered by the Jamestown Area Grief Support Team, will be Sept. 14-16 at the Maryvale Retreat Center in Valley City, N.D.
“You leave (the retreat) and you just feel so at peace, and like ‘Hey, I’m going to be okay,’” said JAGST member Carol Arnold.
This will be JAGST’s third annual Widow’s Retreat, beginning on a Friday evening and ending on a Sunday afternoon.
Maryvale was chosen because of its peacefulness and the facilities, said Diane Witzig, JAGST member.
One of the major events of the retreat will be the panel of widows involved with JAGST, who will share their stories of loss and how they have dealt with the grieving process.
Often, the panel encourages the widows attending the retreat to tell their stories.
“The participants are the stars … once one starts, pretty soon they all want to tell their stories,” said JAGST member Kathy Vandeberghe. “They’re not alone in that journey.”
This year’s retreat will include two guest speakers — Tracy Johnk, a social worker at Jamestown Regional Medical Center, and Jeanne Putnam, a grief recovery specialist.
Women at the retreat will learn various ways to cope with their grief, such as creating linking objects.
After Vandeberghe lost her husband, Tom, she still had all his rodeo-style shirts. She took the pockets from those shirts and made wall-hangings. She made teddy bears out of his bathrobe and created photo albums featuring Tom for their relatives.
“It was fun. It was therapeutic for me,” Vandeberghe said.
All widows are welcome at the retreat. Previous groups have included people from age 34 all the way into the 80s.
“They blossom. They bloom,” Vandeberghe said, noting that they often become very close over the weekend.
The retreat will also feature a pajama movie night, a tea party and a “candy bar” with plenty of sweets to choose from. Massage therapists and reflexologists will be there to offer massages and hand and foot treatments.
Sunday’s events will include a service of remembrance, and participants will have free time for interaction and reflection during the retreat as well.
The cost of the weekend is $125, with $50 due with registration and the remainder due at the time of the retreat. Fundraising and donations help defray part of the cost of the retreat.
All the meals and supplies, such as journals, are included.
“If they get nothing else out of it, I hope that they realize that they are not alone,” Witzig said.
For more information about the retreat, or to register, call Brenda at 252-1198, Carol at 507-320-3801 or Eileen at 701-251-1280.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453 or
by email at firstname.lastname@example.org