Articles

  • Comic Yisrael Campbell on Uplifting the Dying

    August 23, 2014

    How can you use your talents to make the dying feel like they’re at the center of your universe? Be a DJ on a pretend radio station with your friend’s name in the call letters: this idea and more when memory artist Nancy Gershman speaks with Yisrael Campbell (born Chris Campbell): a comedian of Irish and Italian descent, who […]

  • God’s Plan in the Grocery Store

    June 24, 2014

    With my whole heart I can say that I am not afraid of anything in life now that I’ve watched my son die.  Nothing can ever be harder than that moment in time; therefore, I have nothing to fear.  Death itself no longer scares me, either, knowing he is waiting for me on the other […]

  • Unhelpful Religious Beliefs on Death and the Afterlife

    August 31, 2013

    Ever since I have been studying the evidence for survival of human personality to physical death, the question of religious beliefs has been nagging at me. This has turned into an outright discomfort since I have moved into the field of counseling for the bereaved and the dying. It is difficult for me to approach […]

  • Getting Through What You’re Going Through: Pastor Rick Warren Models

    August 17, 2013

    Life at Saddleback Church rarely slows down for Pastor Rick Warren and his wife Kay. After four glorious days of Easter services, a typically busy week of ministry began. Christianity Today was scheduled to run an article highlighting Warren’s upcoming book, The Peace Plan. His goal is to reach people all over the world with […]

  • Who Will We Be In Our Grief?

    November 12, 2012

    I start thinking about Thanksgiving on the first day of November. Who will be at my table and what delicious foods will be served. But yesterday was All Saints Sunday. We remembered those we love who have left this life in the past year. Their names were called as a candle was lit and the […]

  • Faith is Like Insurance When a Loved One Dies

    October 25, 2012

    “Faith is not the absence of fear, but the willingness to go on when fear is present.” The summer of 2011 will be remembered as a season of violent storms and will be marked by many lives that were turned upside down by the havoc of mother nature. Tornados ravished Alabama.  Hurricane Irene washed the […]

  • Healing Journey: Things Are Looking Up (And So Am I)

    September 3, 2012

    Some of you are far enough along the grief journey to believe that there is life with grief.  Please notice I did not say “life AFTER grief.”  There is no “after”; there is only understanding and healing.  You don’t stop missing a loved one who is no longer with you.  You don’t wake up one […]

  • Discovering Something Greater than the Answer to “Why?”

    May 21, 2012

    “Why me?”  “Why now?” They are questions that many bereaved ask when they come to our support groups. I’m sure many wish that Gary and I could gaze into a crystal ball, and assure them there is a reason to go on living. It is human nature to ask, “Why?”  Yet, there is seldom a […]

  • A Question of Faith for Those who Mourn

    April 13, 2012

    Faith is an important asset for those who mourn, and yet for some it is not enough. At a bereavement conference, a father described the loss of his son and admitted that he had lost his faith and did not believe in God. In the gospels, Jesus states that a person must have faith comparable […]

  • A Skeptic’s Journey Through Grief

    December 20, 2011

    As a physician with a strong science background, I used to regard all things spiritual with a jaded eye—until the recent suicide of my young son, Erik. Since then, my life has been cleaved into two parts: The Before and The After, The Bliss and The Dark Despair.   Everyone deals with grief differently. I heal […]

  • Yearning for Certainty in an Uncertain World

    October 18, 2011

    A woman was walking down the hallway past my counseling office after she had seen Linda, the massage therapist.  My office door was open so I heard the lady remark, “Everything happens for a reason, my friend.”  The certainty built into her response was comforting to me.  However, I began wondering if her statement was […]

  • An Uncertain Truth

    October 6, 2011

    She stood on the railroad tracks listening for the train when another sound started in the distance, soft at first then growing louder, closer. She recognized the sound, knew in a moment that the siren was coming closer, coming for her father. As she bolted down the dirt path toward home, a window opened in […]

  • Did My Cat Go to Heaven?

    October 1, 2011

    Question from a reader:  I have been grieving the loss of my cat for some time now, and the pain does not go away. I am still very sad and wondering what kind of help you can give me.  I keep thinking—did my Mittens go to heaven or not?  I had a very tight bond […]

  • Can I Believe My Mother is in Heaven?

    September 26, 2011

    I love going to psychics. I’m not sure if it’s my impetuous nature to know what is to come, the comforting assertions like “Great fortune is headed your way” or its mother-memory connection. I became loosely associated with the magic of clairvoyance at age 5. I waited in the reception area while my mother traveled […]

  • Embracing Grief Does Not Mean Rejecting Faith

    August 27, 2011

    Prior to my fiancé Greg’s accident in March 2010, my walk with Christ included daily quiet time and prayer, weekly women’s bible study, weekly young adult’s small group, weekly church service, and I served in ministry as a greeter, prayer team member and as intern in our church in women’s ministry. My walk with Christ […]

  • Psalm 23 Creates Healing Connection

    August 21, 2011

    Grief is the price we pay for love. —Queen Elizabeth II My best friend was dead. My faith was shattered. It was too much for me. I felt that I, too, was dying. I desperately needed a breakthrough—a sign, if you will, that she was safe. The thoughts of her being smashed against a mountain […]

  • Why Ask Questions About Your Grief Journey?

    August 9, 2011

    I recently had the honor of being the opening keynote speaker for this year’s national gathering of the Bereaved Parents of the USA.  I spoke about the evolution of my grief and observations and lessons learned during the past eight-plus years that have helped me adjust to the reality of life without the physical presence of […]

  • Does Your Faith Condemn You or Sustain You?

    July 15, 2011

    When someone we love dies, especially at a young age or by violent means, our whole belief system often gets a massive shake up. The certainty that we once knew has gone. That foundation we depended on is no longer stable and true. We find ourselves in a strangely altered new world. Our faith becomes […]

  • Turning Over a New Faith

    May 14, 2011

    Today, some have seriously thought of exchanging a theology once handed down to them by family members for another belief system that in their minds can better tackle the questions that accompany pain. God, as they understand God, just doesn’t seem to ease the emotional and mental anguish brought about by unexpected and vicious events. […]

  • Soul Pain, Grief and Transformation

    April 19, 2011

    Between tearful sobs, Mary confides the painful story of how her life has become meaningless and of how parenting issues and marital problems have escalated since the suicide death of her teenage son, four years before. Listening to her as she speaks — bent-over, eyes averted, monotone voice — one can conclude that Mary is […]

  • The Response of the Human Spirit to Loss

    March 16, 2011

    When we experience significant loss, every aspect of our humanness responds in agony. As the initial physical effects dissipate, they leave in their wake an accumulation of emotional and spiritual responses to the loss. Some of these responses begin to appear only over time, often long after the needed support offered by loved ones and […]

  • Hope Eternal: Miscarriage Doesn’t End Mother-Daughter Bond

    March 5, 2011

    We call her Hope. Our baby, lost to us in late January 2003, was with us only briefly. Eight weeks to be exact. Not long enough to take her first breath, but long enough to be a reality in my heart. Long enough for me to imagine holding her in my arms. Long enough to […]

  • Grief Leads to Deeper Understanding of God

    February 3, 2011

    Every day, we and those around us experience loss, change, and transitions that we must grieve.  Grief is intense emotional suffering caused by loss, and while it is normal, it involves hard work.  Does that surprise you – that grief not only equals loss, but it involves hard grief work as well? Grief often begins […]

  • ‘Arms of God’: Bereaved Mom Questions, Affirms Faith

    January 29, 2011

    Having just experienced the miracle birth of my daughter, followed by the devastating blow of her death, I found myself unable to pray.  Prayer had sustained me during the difficult pregnancy wrought with uncertainties.  Early in the pregnancy, we discovered that our baby had a fatal chromosomal defect known as trisomy 18.  Reeling at the […]

  • Walking Wounded at the Holidays

    December 27, 2010

    I am one of the walking wounded. On most days, you can’t see my scars. During the holidays, as families gather, plan and celebrate, my scar begins to show. It begins to deepen in color and intensity, kind of like Harry Potter’s.  On non-holiday days, I can bear my scar and move on. During these […]

  • Death at Center of her Life

    October 28, 2010

    Sometimes I wonder if our lives are predestined or if we really have choice. Often it seems the universe conspires to lead us in a particular direction, and no matter how hard we fight it, we are going there whether we like it or not. I had a very specific vision of what my life […]

  • Where Was God?

    October 28, 2010

    co-authored with Heidi Horsley, PsyD, LMSW, MS, executive director of Open to Hope Foundation Footprints in the Sand “So I said to the Lord, You promised me Lord, that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there have only […]

  • Widow’s Separation From Husband is ‘Temporary’

    July 20, 2010

    This life is so temporary. We don’t seem to get that most times. Over the last months, it has become so clear to me that we are not meant for this earth forever. We are eternal beings with our hearts, souls and beings based in something bigger and better than this place that we walk […]

  • Wife’s Sudden Death Sends Man on Faith Journey

    July 11, 2010

    I’ve been living without my wife for seven months now. I’ve had to adjust to a great many things, but the most trying has been my struggle with my faith over that time. I’ve been angry with God, which has consumed me at times. I’ve been angry with Kathy for dying, and I’ve been angry […]

  • Mother Tells Story of Child’s Death, Her Own Faith

    June 11, 2010

    I was coasting through life, pretty comfortably, when suddenly I experienced something no mother should have to go through. I came out on the other side only due to God’s amazing grace. I would not be here today physically or able to share this with you, if it weren’t for my Savior who has given […]

  • What is the Meaning of Hope?

    April 20, 2010

    What is the meaning of hope, and how can it help us through the days and nights of our despair? For many, hope is a quality that imbues us with grace in the face of adversity. It is an internal process that allows us to encounter the world with awe and faith in a more […]

  • Mother Maintains Contact with Deceased Son

    April 17, 2010

    To all of my fellow parents of deceased children — mothers and fathers – I offer greetings.  I too have suffered this unthinkable loss and know the grief that accompanies it. My son, Danny, died on July 1, 2008, from an overdose of alcohol and prescription drugs, a death all too common in this day and […]

  • Death of Grandchild is a Double Loss

    April 16, 2010

    April 11 was my second-born grandson, Conner’s, birthday.  He would have been 16 this year.  Oh, the fun age.  The 16th birthday, to me, is when you no longer feel like you are a child but not quite an adult.   You aren’t quite sure where to go with those feelings you have inside you.  Also, […]

  • In Widowhood, What I Believe

    April 2, 2010

    Before my husband Phil died, I could have easily created a long list of my personal beliefs. This list would have included ideas about both the tangible and the intangible; broad concepts and specific ideals; God and mortal beings. There would probably even have been a mention of death and eternity…but only in the abstract […]

  • Bond to Deceased Child Can Go On

    March 29, 2010

    From the moment you become a parent, there are two questions that become first and foremost in your mind:  Where is my child? Is he/she okay?  Even when you are dealing with an infant who seldom leaves your side, you still get those moments. I can remember watching my babies when they were in deep sleeps […]

  • Death of ‘Neon Man’ Inspires Friend to Help Others

    March 25, 2010

    In 2004, I got a call that my best friend died.  Mark Jamison was a neon artist from Roanoke, Virginia, who was electrocuted after he was blown into a power line while hanging a neon sign. He was only 35. A month after he died, his girlfriend discovered she was pregnant. Mark and I had been friends for nearly 18 […]

  • Leaving a Place, Experiencing a Loss

    February 28, 2010

    Grief is multifaceted, and I’ve realised over the years that our society does not acknowledge many of its aspects. Along with profound grief the death of a loved one brings us, we all experience many other types of losses as we go through life. There are small and not so small daily losses. Perhaps our […]

  • As You Grieve, Look for Sacred Moments

    February 23, 2010

    After my physician husband completed his tour of duty in Vietnam, the Air Force sent him to a base in Selma, Alabama.  He was the commander of the medical group.  My husband and I, and our two young daughters, lived in a converted barracks.  Each morning, dozens of maids would walk from town – a […]

  • Poem: A Prayer of Hope

    February 21, 2010

    Today, I will take baby steps And, hold my head high With a prayer of hope for a smile. Today, I will give myself a hug And, accept that I am a human With a prayer of hope for forgiveness. Today, I will let go of yesterday And, accept that I did my best With […]

  • God Doesn’t ‘Zap’ Those Who Express Emotion

    February 20, 2010

    In my twelve years as spiritual counselor, I have seen men and women choke back their feelings while simultaneously defending the Almighty who supposedly allowed the devastating events to take place. Unfortunately, both smothering of emotions and advocating for the divine have serious consequences. In this snippet of an article, I propose that emotional congestion in […]

  • How Rose Reached Across Time to Comfort Me

    February 14, 2010

    In high school, I worked as a kitchen aide in a nearby rest home.  The home was a beautiful Victorian, formerly owned by a prominent business man.  Throughout renovations to accommodate the elderly, the façade pretty much remained the same: three stories with steep roof pitches, an attention-grabbing turret and a few new dormers.  The […]

  • Grandmother Shares Story of Double Loss

    January 18, 2010

    January 25th will be my third grandchild’s birthday.  There won’t be any cake or ice cream or a party. She isn’t here with us.   Instead we will put  balloons on her gravesite.   She would have been 14.  Her name was Jacy Kay. She had my middle name.  We would have had another teenager in the family.  When […]

  • Poem: New Widow Speaks to God

    December 24, 2009

    My husband is dead! My husband isn’t here anymore! I don’t have a partner anymore! I reach over to his side of the bed and it’s cold and empty. Look around…..I’m looking….the coffee cup is still sitting on the shelf. I look some more and the newspaper is still on the lawn… It’s awful quiet […]

Open to Hope TV

  • Webinar-Easter; Where is God After Loss?

    April 18, 2011

    Pastor Dennis Apple speaks with Dr. Gloria Horsley about death and wondering where God is? Dennis Apple is the bereaved dad of Denny, age 18, who died in 1991 after a brief illness. Dennis counsels couples and individuals who are grieving the loss of a loved one. He serves as staff pastor at College Church […]

Open to Hope Radio

  • Reverend Robert Phillips: Speaking the Unspeakable

    August 19, 2010

    Reverend Robert Phillips shares the grief experience through poetry and the bible.