About Donna


Dr. Donna Waddell is a Registered Nurse with a doctorate in Adult Education.

She has more than 35 years of experience in continuing and adult education and has worked with adults in a variety of settings, including 17 years as a university professor. She has used the Grief Recovery Method as a vehicle for grief recovery for herself and was certified as a Grief Recovery Specialist® by the Grief Recovery Institute® in order to help others experience the same benefit.


Donna’s Grief Recovery Story

One morning I cried out in anguish, “God, please help me!”  It had been more than two years since my partner of 16 years had died from the complications of dementia, but I was still crying every day. I had been doing every thing I thought I was supposed to do to get over her death: reading grief related literature, going to grief support groups, going to the gym to exercise, seeing a well-meaning therapist, eating healthy foods, going to church, planning each day so that I got out of the house at least once and had some kind of social interaction. Still, I was stuck. I could not see any future for myself. I plodded through each day. I wanted the emotional pain to end.

The last 2 years of her life Jean needed to be in assisted living for safety. I mistakenly believed that this would prepare me for her inevitable death. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Death was so final. Her death turned my world completely upside down. Friends and family came for the memorial service and rallied around me to help and comfort me, but I was numb. People told me that Jean was better off. That was certainly true, but I wasn’t better off. I no longer felt like I had a purpose in life. So, I kept busy, But, every day I cried. I could not enjoy the precious good memories with Jean because of the overwhelming sadness of her death. I was angry that I was being deprived of those fond memories.

Did God answer my prayer? Your guess is as good as mine. But later that very day my daughter, a family therapist, recommended the Grief Recovery Handbook. She knew that the Grief Recovery Method® had been effective for many of her clients when other attempts to heal from grief had failed.

The Grief Recovery Method® showed me the actions I needed to take to complete my relationship with the pain of losing Jean. I was able to forgive her for becoming ill and dying. I was able to acknowledge the lost dreams and expectations of a future of growing old together. I apologized for not keeping her at home until she died.

Day by day the tears stopped and the future actually appeared brighter. I was so happy to be able to plan for my own future that I decided to seek credentialing to help others struggling with their own grief. I became certified by the Grief Recovery Institute® in July 2014.

Donna’s Adoption Story

I was adopted in 1947 after being in foster care for 6 months. Typical of the era, I was told that my birth parents were married and died in an automobile accident. Intuitively, even at the age of 3 or so, I knew this wasn’t true. I was the rebellious, recalcitrant adoptee. I was an only child. At the age of 35 I begged my mother to finally tell me the truth, but she stuck to the story.

In 1993 I obtained the non-identifying information about my family of origin and began a search. In 1994 I met my birth mother and we had a 13 year relationship before she died in 2007. Meeting my birth mother and having my questions answered was very healing, but it was using the Grief Recovery Method that brought real closure to the pain, anger, and isolation that my adoption had generated.