Articles

  • Kaleidoscope: Rearranging the Pieces After Loss

    April 17, 2015

    It’s been 80 months since I became a widow, 21 months since I said vows for the second time, and two months since my first child was born. Sometimes I need to pinch myself. As I tenderly rock my little girl in my arms, I can’t help but remember the reason I got this rocking […]

  • Pain is Inevitable; Suffering is Optional

    April 10, 2015

    “Does time heal all wounds?” If you are a griever, you have no doubt heard this cliché more than once. On April 16, 1993, our son, Chad, died as a result of suicide. Family and friends know that it doesn’t pay to ask, “Do you ever get over it?” Our response will always be the […]

  • Avoid the Grief Pitfall of Isolation

    April 8, 2015

    Once a loved one dies, the desire to isolate can be overwhelming. Spending time alone to rest, meditate, and remember is restorative, but grief experts tell us shunning others ultimately won’t bring peace. It’s important to find people who can help us work through the grieving process. Sometimes these people can be family members and […]

  • Grief in Spring?

    March 23, 2015

    If Spring makes you feel better and to feel new hope, that is a good, positive and nurturing thing. But it may not be true for everyone, and no one should feel they have to hide their true feelings. It is perfectly normal to experience new heightened grief and/or grief-related anxiety in Spring, just as […]

  • Reaching Out, Sharing Grief

    March 22, 2015

    When our son, Timmy, died at age 20 from a skateboard accident, many of our friends, searching for words, said “I can’t imagine…” And of course they can’t. It is beyond our expectations, beyond our understanding of reality, that a vibrant, young person could be plucked from the world so suddenly. It was certainly beyond […]

  • When Grief Subsides….What’s Beyond?

    March 20, 2015

    Grief a major part of a widow/widower’s life. Although everyone works through grief in their own way, there are still some similarities. I’d guess the majority of widow/widowers go through various stages of shock, denial, guilt, anger, depression, and hopefully acceptance. But every journey will also be unique. Once we work through our stages of grief and accept our loss, the grief […]

  • Turning Tragedy into Hope

    March 17, 2015

    March 17th is normally for most people a day of celebration – St. Patrick’s Day. What a saint he was too, not only bringing a message of hope to the Irish, but also to the rest of the British Isles during his lifetime. March 17th, 2011, was a day that changed my life for all […]

  • Can Grief Be a Friend?

    March 7, 2015

    Anne LaMott, in her book Traveling Mercies, writes,  “Don’t get me wrong. Grief sucks; it really does. Unfortunately, though, avoiding it robs us of Life, of the now, of the sense of living spirit…The bad news is that whatever you use to keep the pain at bay robs you of the flecks and nuggets of […]

  • Loving My Wife through Her Grief

    March 3, 2015

    This article was written by John Thompson, husband of Open to Hope contributing writer Jill Kraft Thompson. March 25, 2015, will mark the thirteenth anniversary of the day my wife Jill lost her family. Of course, I am not talking about our son Franklin and me, but Jill’s previous husband Bart; their two young sons, […]

  • Why I Can Be Open to Hope

    March 2, 2015

    I can’t always hope. But I can be open to it. When people are in mourning, those who care about them often search for some way to help them feel better. It’s awful to see someone you love feeling such pain. You want to take away the suffering, fix the problem, bring your loved one […]

  • ‘Have Faith and Pursue the Unknown End’

    February 21, 2015

    What life still holds for us after significant loss is one of life’s many “unknown ends.” You may be old enough to remember the 1960’s television game show, “Let’s Make a Deal,” hosted by Monty Hall. A hallmark of the show was that people sitting in the audience would dress in silly and outrageous outfits […]

  • Grieving a Future I’ll Never Have

    February 19, 2015

    When grief is new, it is excruciating and overwhelming. Many people get stuck in a quicksand of pain that is so thick and intense, it feels impossible to escape. As you struggle through those first few days, weeks, and months, you begin to be pulled so far down into it, you can’t imagine how you’ll […]

  • ‘Moving On’ vs. ‘Moving Forward’: The Preposition Matters

    February 10, 2015

    Have you ever told someone, with the best of intentions, “You’ve got to look at all the positives and try to move on”? Sure you have. I have, too. But not since I lost my husband and realized the toxicity that lives within both of those phrases. As Dr. Michael Lerner asserts in “The Difference […]

  • The Fierce Tribe of After: Grief, with Attitude

    February 10, 2015

    Don’t make the mistake. It’s not anger you see on my face. It’s attitude. My wife died suddenly in her forties of an unknown heart problem. If you don’t know what to say to me about that, if you feel uncomfortable when I’m around because I make you worry that your spouse is about to […]

  • Keeping Lost Siblings In Your Heart

    February 8, 2015

    I am a sister who sadly lost both my sisters. Although I will permanently have a hole in my heart, I am learning to embrace my beloved sisters to encompass an important place in my life. My sisters Margie and Jane are forever part of me, who I am, past, present and future. My heart […]

  • Writing the Gratitude!

    February 6, 2015

    When Daniel died, I wanted more. More smiles, more birthdays, more words, more experiences. Like any mom, I wanted my child to have a full and healthy life. When Daniel breathed his last, all I had was four years and five months and eight days. He hadn’t made it to five; he hadn’t even made […]

  • Shifting: Child-Loss Splits Mom Between Heaven and Earth

    February 3, 2015

    For all accounts and purposes I am a strong woman. I have been through some extraordinary situations and lived to tell about them. And the telling has been my mission for the last six months. Sharing my story, educating fellow child-loss survivors about meditation, energy and intuition. I preach about connecting with your child after […]

  • Why Affirmation Writing Helps Grief Healing

    January 26, 2015

    Grief experts recommend writing as a healing tool because it works. Putting your thoughts in writing makes them real and, more important, validates your thoughts. I started writing one-sentence affirmations after four family members died in 2007 and have been writing them ever since. Affirmation writing has many benefits and there are some of them. […]

  • Denial and Disbelief in Grieving

    January 23, 2015

    I was in denial from the first moment. And for a while thereafter. On a sunny Saturday in June, I had just finished a mud run with my son, and we were walking back to our car in late morning, covered with mud and laughing. My husband called my cell, from our home phone, I […]

  • Behind the Veil

    January 21, 2015

    When you see me, you probably see what you would consider to be a strong person. You see someone who appears to be living the American Dream — juggling a successful career, a beautiful family, a healthy social life, and even time to volunteer for a good cause. You see a person who came back […]

  • When a Child Dies of Drug Addiction

    January 18, 2015

    Ben was an addict. That declaration is enormously painful and takes even more courage to write than Ben died at age nineteen. He was an honor student, football captain, neighborhood skateboard star, altar server, little league all-star, and lead singer in a punk rock band; he was handsome, popular, kind, and gentle. He was my […]

  • Remember Anyway

    January 15, 2015

    Remembering bears a weight of great responsibility and sometimes feels like a constant struggle to do justice to the memory of loved ones and all that they mean(t) to one’s life. Do we remember with painful grief? Do we seek healing to pay homage to the sanctity of life and those we have lost? Do […]

  • Love, Loss, Planning and Valentine’s Day

    January 15, 2015

    Valentine’s is a day when love, chocolate, flowers, jewelry, greeting cards, romantic movies, dinners, drinks and the color red abound. And, Valentine’s Day can trigger those who are not “coupled” to feel sad, pressured, disappointed or lonesome. It can also be a day to have heartfelt conversations about current or future plans, passions, inspiring books, […]

  • Is Grief Making You Feel Sick?

    January 13, 2015

    Recently I got an email from a woman who had lost her son a few years ago. She openly shared how much she had aged fast since her son’s passing. She listed a couple of her most urgent ailments and I quickly realized the process of grieving was taking its toll on her health. As […]

  • The Best Kept Secret and the Biggest Lie

    January 11, 2015

    I’ll bet you want  me to explain the title of this article in one paragraph and let you get back to your search for healing. It’s never quite that easy is it? That last sentence was a hint, by the way. Truthfully, I  don’t want to make today, or any day harder for you, so […]

  • Memories Can Help Us Heal Our Grief

    January 9, 2015

    “I learn something from my mother every day,” I told my husband. The statement surprised me. Maturity, grief knowledge, and new coping skills may have prompted this statement. Whatever the reasons may be, the statement is true. What have I learned from my mother? This question takes me back to childhood. My mother often said, […]

  • Open the Door, Welcome Joy

    December 28, 2014

    “Twinkling lights, horse-drawn carriages and the Sugar Plum Fairy all aglow. Evergreens and mistletoe, and Gingerbread houses lined in a row. Stockings hung by wood stoves, dogs curled up on the floor, as we sit and rock with our memories knocking at our door.” Time is measured from the moment our loved ones inhale their […]

  • Help for Holiday Grievers

    December 20, 2014

    “So, what’s for dinner?” Twelve pairs of eyes looked at me expectantly. It was a simple question, not one that should have struck terror in my heart, and yet I suddenly couldn’t breathe. I cleared my throat, nervously fingering the blanket that covered my lap. I thought I’d done so well. I’d managed to decorate […]

  • Does Bereavement End? Deciding That It’s OK to Survive

    December 19, 2014

    My wife, Kathy, and I present a workshop for bereaved parents that we have titled, “Into the Valley and Out Again.” We conclude that presentation with some of our observations on our recovery and reinvestment. We believe that many of these observations apply to all forms of bereavement. So here are some excerpts from our […]

  • Holiday Grief and Nutrition

    December 18, 2014

    The holidays are an opportunity to enjoy family, friends, food, drink and customs, as well as ethnic, religious and spiritual rituals. In addition to joyous experiences, like giving and receiving cards, gifts and donations, the holidays can also bring feelings of sadness, stress, disappointment, depression and loneliness to the surface, especially when we have experienced […]

  • Getting Through the Holidays: Include Your Deceased Loved One

    December 16, 2014

    Many of us who have lost a loved one dread the holiday season. This can be for many reasons. Maybe the death occurred around this time of year, or maybe the traditions that no longer take place, leave a void and a sadness in our hearts. No matter what the situation may be, everyone else […]

  • End-of-Life Decision-Making Is a Peace-Finding Mission

    December 14, 2014

    Be present. Be prepared. Be clear. Since publishing a memoir about my dad’s end of life, I received an outpouring of support from others who experienced the loss of loved ones in their own lives. Many sent heart-felt comments and poignantly precious memories. Some sent books they wrote as part of their own journey with […]

  • Seeking Support After a Child-Loss

    December 11, 2014

    After a loved one has passed on and the funeral is over, the cards stop coming in the mail and it feels like the rest of the world has moved on. For the newly bereaved, this can be the loneliest time of all. Many times family and friends will pull away because they feel uncomfortable […]

  • Seven Ways to Survive the Holidays During Bereavement

    December 9, 2014

    If you have recently lost a loved one, you may think your holidays are going to be painful, difficult and unbearable. However, facing the holidays alone for the first time does not have to depressing. When you get depressed, you are not allowing yourself to fully grieve and feel your emotions. If you look underneath […]

  • Uncovering the Illusion of Truth in Our Grief Journeys

    December 3, 2014

    The Wisdom of Age As I become older, my view of the world and the people who inhabit it has evolved.  I would like to believe that growing older has allowed me to acquire more wisdom because of, in part, my own actions and choices as well as those of others whose paths I have […]

  • Improv artist Marc Herson on Vision Quests for Mourners

    November 28, 2014

    Fasting on water, chanting his heart out and beating a drum for 4 solitary days  in a pine valley opened a door to the afterlife for Marc Hershon. This and more when memory artist, Nancy Gershman talks with Hershon about his vision quest – a Renaissance man who performs and teaches improv; hosts and produces Succotash, the Comedy Podcast; draws an award-winning, weekly cartoon for California’s Half […]

  • A Bereavement Group – For Mothers Only

    November 26, 2014

    Six years ago this January, I shared a cup of tea with a grieving friend following the sudden loss of her son. I had an understanding of how she felt because I had lost a daughter a few years previously. While we sipped our tea I asked my friend what she thought about me starting […]

  • What No One Ever Told Me About Grief

    November 24, 2014

    Last Valentine’s—that rose-scented, chocolate-infused day, God reached a hand down, scooped my brother’s soul in his Godly palm without asking if we were ready, if Rocky was ready, to transition from this world into the next. He was plucked from our lives without any warning at all, leaving a jagged hole in our wholeness, sending […]

  • Creating a New Reality After a Child-Loss

    November 16, 2014

    Grief has many lessons. One of them is the opportunity to re-create ourselves from scratch because it has the power to take what we are, what we thought we were meant to be, to a far-away place. A place that we felt we would never be able to go. We are stuck with a new […]

  • It’s That Time of Year…Again

    November 12, 2014

    The clocks have been turned back and the weather is changing, signaling the end of summer and our moving into a new season. Much like a new season during the year, so it is in life. Fall is particularly difficult for many people because we are thrust into a world of holidays; Rosh Hashanah, Yom […]

  • Thanksgiving Darkness

    November 12, 2014

    Coming home after work in late November, I hear the sounds of children laughing and look down from the BART station at the playground of St. Leander’s School. Children are running around, playing kickball, and delighting in life. My wife Evelyn tutored at the school after hours for several years as her health slowly improved […]

  • Grief from a Native American Perspective: Interview with Damita Sunwolf Larue

    November 11, 2014

    At the annual ADEC (Association of Death Education and Counseling), I spoke with Damita Sunwolf Larue about the Native American people and the loss and grief they have suffered throughout their history. Damita is a Cherokee from Oklahoma and her grandmother is a medicine woman. Damita says grief and loss have been a part of […]

  • Is SAD Due to the Darkness of Grief or Darkness of the Season?

    November 10, 2014

    What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)? In the beginning of the fall until the end of the winter many people experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a seasonal depression. There is less daylight during the fall and winter and serotonin, the neurochemicals in your brain that regulate your mood and functioning are effected. Also, too much […]

  • A Widow Remembers the First Year of Holidays

    November 10, 2014

    Yes, they’re coming! We can’t hide, it’s inevitable. The holidays are here! Although my young children were grieving in their own ways, they looked forward to Christmas, presents, decorations, and celebrations. My oldest daughter was in second grade and my youngest was in kindergarten. This was the first year of holidays without their father. They participated in all […]

  • Finding a Silver Lining in Living with Loss

    October 28, 2014

    Can we find anything at all in living with loss that in some way we might benefit from? Is it possible that something as terrible as loss, so final and irreversible, can contain a silver lining? Maybe this isn’t exactly a silver lining, but I’ll tell you about something that has dawned on me as […]

  • Learning to Live Again After Loss: Interview with Alan Pederson

    October 28, 2014

    In a recent interview, Alan Pedersen opened up with Dr. Gloria Horsley about Learning to Live Again After Loss and the trials he faced after his great loss. Below is the interview: G:        Hello.  I’m Dr. Gloria Horsley with my co-host Dr. Heidi Horsley.  Welcome to the show today.  We’re so happy to have you on […]

  • Wedding Day a Lesson in Process of Grief

    October 24, 2014

    In 2007, my twin grandchildren’s parents died from the injuries they received in separate car crashes. The twin’s mother, our daughter, listed my husband and me as the twin’s guardians in her will. Suddenly we were GRGs, grandparents raising grandchildren. The twins, one boy and one girl, came to live with us when they were […]

  • My Way of Living with Death

    October 22, 2014

    If there is one word to describe me, it would be “Mother.” When I hear “Mom” in a grocery store, I turn, ready for action. I want every one of all ages to be happy, healthy and well cared for. It is in my DNA. My son, Christopher Robin Hotchkiss, was murdered by his roommate, […]

  • Dozens of Do’s and Don’ts for the Bereaved

    October 22, 2014

    Do call a friend when you are blue. Do water the flowers and take time to smell them; work in the garden, pull out weeds. Do something positive for yourself every day. Do get enough sleep. Do exercise daily. Do remember to take time to eat. Do think positive thoughts every day. Do spend time […]

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  • Wellness and Grief: Dr. Jane Bissler

    January 8, 2015

    Dr. Jane Bissler, LPCC, is a clinical counselor and the clinical director for Counseling for Wellness, LLP and Kelly’s Grief Center, a not-for-profit organization counseling those who have experienced the heartbreaking reality of the death of a loved one. Her latest book is for children titled:  Hoover and Honeybunch Find Comfort in a Sometimes Scary […]