Details catering to the widows and widowers who will stay at Broken Halos Haven are all around the newly renovated, nearly 100-year-old house in Old Town Lewisville. A single night stand sits on the left side of the master bed. A subtle cross lies in the ceiling’s wainscoting. Original wood removed during renovation covers the living room wall. It is a blend of the old with the new.

“Just like me,” Natalie Reid-Knutson said.

She and her husband, Kjell Knutson, opened the grief retreat called Broken Halos Haven on Aug. 14, the third anniversary of the death of Reid-Knutson’s first husband, Wayne.

The idea of creating a safe haven for widows or widowers and their children came from a trip Reid-Knutson and her three sons took while processing their own grief, she said.

“Our first Christmas was coming up after his death, and I knew we did not want to be at home around all of the emotional grief triggers,” Reid-Knutson said.

The family stayed at a friend’s apartment in New York and made new memories, she said. Broken Halos Haven was designed to give other grieving families an experience like the one she had. Widows, widowers or their loved ones can register online to stay at the three-bedroom, two-bath house for two free nights. Grieving families can also create a registry where their loved ones may donate to fund meals and activities for the families to do while on the retreat. “When someone dies, there is an influx of cash and casseroles,” Reid-Knutson said. “Because everyone wants to help, but nobody knows how.”

Having the registry allows families to ask for things they may want or need while staying at Broken Halos Haven, so by the time they arrive, they don’t have to worry about the logistics, she said.

“Then they just have a few days to take those first few steps forward in finding joy,” she said.

While Broken Halos Haven operates as a limited liability company, Reid-Knutson said she has begun the paperwork to become a certified nonprofit.

Reid-Knutson said the hardest part in this new venture will be deciding which families get to use the retreat. The size of the family and the newness of their loss will factor into that.

“I hate it because I don’t want to compare someone’s grief journey,” Reid-Knutson said. ”But we have to choose who is given this opportunity based on the way that we can have the greatest impact to meet those needs.”

How it works

1) Register for a stay online at by sharing a little bit about your story, indicating which dates you would like to stay and how many guests will be joining you.

2) After your stay is approved, fill out the grief getaway gift registry by selecting meals, activities and transportation services your loved ones can donate toward your trip.

3) A link to your registry will be sent to you and can be shared with loved ones who wish to donate to your trip.

4) Put together a schedule for your stay. Then enjoy your grief getaway at Broken Halos Haven in Old Town Lewisville.