Articles

  • How to Use Death Insurance to Trick Death

    September 23, 2017

    It’s not a pleasant scene: You are in a hospital bed, clinging to life, and just outside your room your family members are arguing whether or not you would want to be kept alive by a respirator and, given the likelihood that you will die, would you want your organs donated. Or how about this […]

  • Seek Compassion Over Judgment as a Loved One is Dying

    September 22, 2017

      Anticipatory grief about the end of a loved one’s life can be an overwhelming experience. So many complex emotions. Such a sense of powerlessness. Subconsciously, the family and friends of the dying person will seek order and predictability at a time when there just isn’t any. Anticipatory grief often leads to decisions made or words spoken […]

  • When You’re Dying Before Your Children are Grown

    September 20, 2017

      No one dreams of dying before their children are grown. No parent envisions leaving their children before they reach milestones and become contributing, independent adults. Yet, sadly, tragically, it happens. My mom died soon after I graduated from college. She and I were very close. We had many conversations as she was dying, some […]

  • Kayce Hodos: Adolescent Grief

    September 16, 2017

    Kayce Hodos is a licensed professional counselor who works in a private practice in Raleigh, North Carolina. She specializes in grief and loss counseling for both adolescents and adults. Recently, Hodos spoke with Dr. Gloria Horsley at the annual Association of Death Education and Counseling Conference about what it means to serve this demographic. “It’s […]

  • Where Do They Go?

    September 14, 2017

    Recently, I have received phone calls from dear friends who have lost people they love. Lost. That word, it is so final, but do we really know? Still, there is that empty space of where are they? What’s it like? Are they happy and safe? It is so difficult to wrap our human brain around […]

  • Remembering the ‘Lasts’

    September 13, 2017

      The last words spoken. The last touch. The last meal shared. The last laugh. The last show watched. The lasts…moments and interactions that would otherwise go unnoticed in everyday life now sacred. Memories that, when lucky, we wish to bottle and protectively hold on a shelf. Untouched for eternity. Never dimmed. Never forgotten. Accessible […]

  • The Power of Stories in Coping With Loss

    September 12, 2017

    We have an affinity for stories—they are the vehicle for making meaning out of chaos.  By late adolescence, most of us have developed a “life story” that gives us a sense of identity and reflects our explanation of how the world works.  This overarching story is not particularly factual, but rather consists of experiences that […]

  • September 11th – 16 Years of Grief

    September 11, 2017

    Sixteen years ago, our resilience as a country was tested when nearly 3,000 people were killed in the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks.  We have come a long way since then, and I have watched as NYC has rebuilt, and bereaved families have once again found hope. I was honored to spend ten years with 9/11 […]

  • Death and Dying: Interview with Brian Barry MA

    September 10, 2017

    At the annual ADEC (Association of Death Education and Counseling), I spoke with Brian Barry, who teaches death and dying at RIT in Rochester. Brian began to explore the field of death and dying after the passing of his mother, and he has been doing it for the past 35 years. When Barry’s mother passed […]

  • Antonio Sausys: Healing the Body, Mind and Spirit

    September 8, 2017

    During the 2015 Association for Death Education and Counseling conference, Dr. Heidi Horsley spoke with Antonio Sausys from Uruguay. Sausys operates a program that integrates yoga techniques and therapies that combine the mind, body and spirit “in order to help grievers go through the difficult process.” Contrary to popular belief, grief is not purely emotional—or […]

  • A Grandmother’s Pain of Infant Loss

    September 6, 2017

    As part of my connection to Empty Cradle, an organization that supports pregnancy and infant loss in the San Diego area, I spend time facilitating support groups for those who are grieving the loss of their child.  When I joined the organization as a facilitator, my goal was to use my five years of experience […]

  • The Alzheimer’s Experience, Part II: ‘He Was Such a Strong, Proud Man’

    September 5, 2017

    “Henry hasn’t been that bad,” Mrs Van Winkle reported to Dr Miller. “The only big problem is he wakes up at night and thinks it’s morning. Then he wakes me up to fix breakfast, and I can’t get back to sleep. I can’t understand why he thinks it’s morning when it’s still dark.” “I’ll prescribe […]

  • Grieving May Be Lonely (But it Doesn’t Have to Be)

    September 2, 2017

    Thirty years ago, while completing my doctoral work in preparation for the career I have today, I was reminded of the difference that one good friend can make to anyone who is grieving.  I was in my hometown visiting my oldest sister when a couple dropped in to visit her and my brother-in-law.  I was […]

  • Let’s Talk About ‘Closure’

    August 29, 2017

    Let’s talk about “closure,” that thing we search for but never fully find after someone dies. We really hope to find it, and the need for it is deeply felt. We go to the funeral and put up the grave marker to find it. We clean out the room, give away some of the clothes, […]

  • After Loss: Do We Ever Return to ‘Normal’?

    August 28, 2017

        Often during the grief journey, I wondered if a normal life could be obtained again.  Of course, there is a big assumption here that I had a normal life to begin with.  So, considering that we all come from skewed visions of what normal is, my definition was being married, having kids, working […]

  • Tina Barrett: Montana Grief Center Offers Outdoor Support for Kids and Teens

    August 16, 2017

    A counselor at the Tamarack Grief Resource Center, Dr. Tina Barrett attended the 2015TANA Association of Death Education and Counseling conference where she spoke with the Executive Director of Open to Hope, Dr. Heidi Horsley. Barret’s goal is to “stabilize kids, adults and communities following loss” in the Missoula, Montana area. Offering both support programs […]

  • Galen Goben: Faith and Healing After a Death

    August 15, 2017

    The Grief Support Coordinator for Forest Lawn, Galen Goben, spoke with Dr. Heidi Horsley of the Open to Hope Foundation during the 2015 Association for Death Education and Counseling conference about having faith after a death. Forest Lawn is an organization in California that helps people plan ahead for death, including full funeral, crematorium and […]

  • Galen Goben: Putting Words to Grief

    August 9, 2017

    The Open to Hope Foundation spoke to the Grief Support Coordinator at Forest Lawn, Galen Goben, about the challenges of putting words to grief after a death. Forest Lawn is an organization throughout southern California that helps with full planning of a death, including funeral, crematory and cemetery services. Goben has been serving as a […]

  • ‘If I Had Six Months to Live’: Taking Inventory of Your Life

    August 7, 2017

    In one week, I attended two funerals of people who had a big influence on my life. As the veil between heaven and earth gets closer with age and time, I noticed that at these funerals, among the weeping was silence. The reverence is part of our tradition. People also come to celebrate the lives […]

  • Shades of Grief: How Personal Traits Influence Our Grief

    August 7, 2017

      The popular press is full of articles about how your personality type affects your happiness and success. Please ignore them–also the official diagnostic manual of the American Psychiatric Association. A technical diagnosis may help a professional help you, but to look it up may be confusing and do more harm than good. Everyone is […]

  • An Evolution of Feeling: How Grief Changes Over Time

    July 26, 2017

      I’ve noticed that, as a rule, we don’t particularly care to talk about how old we are, so I was amused when a friend did some arithmetic based on some of my recollections and determined that I am 70. We had been discussing worry and he wondered if I worry less now that I […]

  • How Can I Connect With My Child-In-Spirit?

    July 25, 2017

    If you are reading this article, let me first say that I am so sorry for your loss. No one understands the wounds of loss better than another bereaved parent. Nothing is more devastating than attending your own child’s funeral and I’m sorry to be welcoming you to this club. That said, let me share […]

  • After Loss: Pecking at the Shadows of Our Past

    July 25, 2017

    To Be Mindful During my twenty-seven years of employment as an addiction counselor, I routinely addressed the importance of mindfulness with my clients. From my  experience, mindfulness is a tool that, among other things, serves to slow rapid and intrusive thoughts, reduce anxiety and facilitate better lifestyle choices. Mindfulness is essential in helping us focus […]

  • My First Death

    July 23, 2017

    His name was Donald and I first met him when he was 9 and I was 12. His was the first Black family to move into our Seattle neighborhood back in the late 1950s. I remember a man and his wife who had recently moved to our neighborhood from Mississippi—a nice couple—or so I thought […]

  • Shades of Grief: How Do We Know What’s Normal?

    July 23, 2017

      Everyone grieves differently. We’re all individuals. No two people are exactly the same biologically or psychologically. Even your “identical” twin is different­–if you have one. You both came from the same set of genes, but when that set divided into the two of you, accidents may have happen: little accidents that don’t prevent a […]

  • ‘His Life Was Brief’: Grieving the Death of an Infant

    July 23, 2017

    The first time I saw my son, he was lying in a NICU incubator with a small, clear tube protruding from his mouth to help him breathe.  The adhesive that kept the ventilator tube in place covered most of his tiny face.  His eyes were closed, taped shut to keep out the bright light.  He […]

  • Choosing the ‘Right’ Memorial for Your Loved One

    July 9, 2017

    When I was growing up, the neighbors who lived behind us installed a new patio and garden in their backyard. On a plaque in front of the garden were the words, Thank You Mom and Dad. “I think that’s really nice,” my mother commented. “They used money they inherited from their parents to pay for […]

  • A Final Decision: Making Choices During Grief

    June 30, 2017

      Have you ever crossed a high, narrow, rickety bridge, made it safely to the other side only to realize that you are suddenly stuck in the middle of that same bridge swaying back and forth, knees buckled and unable to move? Where did that come from, you ask yourself?  How did I find myself […]

  • Grief Counseling: 7 Reasons to Seek Support

    June 28, 2017

        “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”  (C.S. Lewis) If you keep the proverbial “stiff upper lip” for too long, you may impair your ability to learn to smile […]

  • The Three Points

    June 26, 2017

      My experience with grief tells me that while grief is different for everyone, there are commonalities in the questions grievers ask.  How do I move forward?  Why does grief take so long to get over?  What does normal look like now?  These are just some of the questions that linger after the death of anyone […]

  • My Summer of Grief Led to New Normal

    June 26, 2017

    Our daughter died on July 19, 2005.  The shock of her suicide and my own gut-wrenching grief that day is painful to remember.  No one in our family knew what to do or how to react.  It was like falling out of a boat in the dark at high tide.  We couldn’t “swim”.  We couldn’t […]

  • The Myth of the 5 Stages of Grief

    June 24, 2017

    As a mental-health counselor and a sixty-something-year-old human being, I have found that you cannot fit grief into a neat list of stages on some linear continuum.  The so-called five stages of grief actually are a myth. Grief doesn’t come in stages, but in cycles. These cycles may come in waves like a gently rolling […]

  • What Grief Teaches Us

    June 22, 2017

    In the depths of our grief, something new is being born in us. Grief is the dark mother delivering from her womb of sorrow an unfolding version of ourselves. This new version experiences dimensions of emotion that the old version could not. The new version has collapsed and stretched and suffered and learned in ways […]

  • Fingerprints: Losing a Husband, Living with Grief

    June 15, 2017

    When he used to take off his socks next to our bed and throw them ceremoniously to the cork floor, he would spread the fingers of his chubby peasant hands on the wall of our bedroom to keep his balance before rocketing into bed beside me. It took at least three years to have a finished […]

  • Five Signs You May Be Carrying Hidden Grief

    June 13, 2017

      When my son Justin died in 1993 at the age of 16, I was emotionally crippled for at least a year, unable to return to my former life in advertising or relate to people in familiar ways. Over time, I reassembled the tattered scraps of my life into a new tapestry, and I took […]

  • The Restlessness of Grief: Taking Back Control

    June 11, 2017

    It’s early morning and the sun has just come up.  I open my eyes and am hit with a wave of grief as I remember that my loved one is gone.  My mind begins to remember the events of the last few days and I replay the reality that now is my life again and […]

  • Spring: Memories of Love, a Chance for New Growth

    June 5, 2017

    “You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.” ― Pablo Neruda   Spring rain brings May flowers This was my partner Kim’s favorite time of year. I watch her child-like actions as the flowers bloom and the trees bud. She knew the names of them all, closing her eyes while […]

  • Glen Lord: The Grief Toolbox

    June 3, 2017

    As part of The Grief Toolbox, Glen Lord spoke with Dr. Gloria Horsley at the 2015 Association for Death Education and Counseling conference about the death of a parent as an adult. “Death of a parent” searches make up about half of Open to Hope’s searches. He says the death of a parent when the […]

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