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  • Stories I Do Not Tell: Grief & Spirituality

    November 16, 2017

    Einstein said, “Energy cannot be created or destroyed. It can only be changed from one form into another.” Strange that a scientist’s quote brought me comfort in dealing with the death of my husband, Gary. It also became the means by which I convinced myself I was crazy when seemingly inexplicable, spiritual experiences happened. These are stories […]

  • I Became a 26-Year-Old Widow

    November 15, 2017

    Life throws everybody curve balls. They can be minimal, or heartbreaking, but they are unexpected. On the morning of December 31st, 2016, I would never imagine that it would be the last time I would wake up next to my husband, James.  I would never believe that our last kiss was when the clock struck […]

  • Finding a Way From Christmas Sorrow to Christmas Joy

    November 15, 2017

    Giving gifts to others has always been for me so meaningful, special.  And Christmas seems to  symbolize this more than any other time of year. But my first Christmas three months after our son’s death found me drained and wrung out.  I didn’t feel like a “gifter”, only an  empty-handed “griever”.  Sorrow hurts, but it […]

  • Saying ‘No’ to Holiday Traditions is OK After a Loss

    November 14, 2017

    For many of us, for much of the time, it is hard to say “no.” Even when we’re busy, even when we’re tired, even when it’s something we really don’t want to do. It’s especially hard when it’s something that we’ve done before, when it’s been our routine, our habit, or our tradition. We get […]

  • Natural Disasters Leave Grief Among the Ruins

    November 5, 2017

    The havoc wrought by recent natural disasters  – hurricanes in Houston and Florida,  the US Virgin Islands  and Puerto Rico, wild fires in Northern California, the earthquakes in Mexico — remind me of how destructive natural disasters can be to those affected by them.  Not only have many lives been lost – wives, husbands, children, […]

  • Grieving for a Loved One I Never Knew

    October 28, 2017

    I must admit I find beautiful and limitless potential in the notion of grieving for loved ones that we did not have the opportunity to know. If given the choice, which we are not, of course we would choose to actually love in this life, real time, face to face. Unfortunately this is not always […]

  • Darcy Harris: Social Justice and Grief

    October 18, 2017

    Dr. Darcy Harris has most recently been focusing on working with issues on social justices and social messages as it relates to grieving, she tells Dr. Heidi Horsley during the Association for Death Education and Counseling 2015 conference. Working with a grief and death studies program in London, Ontario, she splits her time between this […]

  • Hope in a Jar, a Loving Gift for the Bereaved

    October 16, 2017

      What should you say to a grieving friend? What shouldn’t you say? Finding the right words may be so hard that you decide to send a sympathy card. “Well, that’s done,” you mutter to yourself.  Later, though, you may wish you had talked to your friend face-to-face. Of course, this isn’t always possible. Instead […]

  • Navigating Grief Through the Holidays

    October 11, 2017

      As we approach the holiday season, many of us are looking forward to spending time with family and friends, celebrations, traditions and expectations of things to come. Throughout our lives, expectations of things to come are based on past experiences. This article is not for those looking forward to the holiday season, but for […]

  • Hope in the Land of Loss

    October 9, 2017

    The bright, blue sky surrounded the scene, it filled the moment with light. I looked up to see the somber funeral men, leading each of us past the casket. One gave me the carnation from his jacket, as I stood before the big, dark casket where my father’s body lay hidden. I was eleven. How […]

  • Weeping With Those Who Weep: Supporting Others in Grief

    October 9, 2017

    At a friend’s home recently, I had the privilege of becoming acquainted with a dear woman who is 94 years young.  As we were seated together in a cozy spot, she began to tell me about herself.  It wasn’t too long before she related to me that her daughter had passed away. But then she […]

  • How to Own Your Winter Grief

    October 9, 2017

    💨 🕶🍲☕🎃🎄☃ Something many of us learn through the course of years, losses and grief is that it’s far better to take control and OWN YOUR WINTERS, rather than to allow your winters own you. The seasons change & winters come (and go) in the midst of grief, ready or not. And long winters days and nights can […]

  • Don’t Send the Wrong Message to Surviving Children

    September 26, 2017

      When our child leaves this earth, so many of our future hopes and dreams go with them. I don’t even need to start listing them; we all know all too well what those things are. When my oldest daughter, Becca, first died, it was so hard to see past her death and the death […]

  • Barb Petsel: Talking with Children about Death

    September 26, 2017

    The Executive Editor of the Open to Hope Foundation recently spoke with Barb Petsel, author and therapist at Healing Transitions Counseling, during the 2015 Association for Death Education and Counseling conference. As the author of Remembering Grandma’s Hugs, Petsel delved deep into the how’s of talking to children when their grandparents die. “I wrote (this […]

  • 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 […]