Articles

  • Thoughts on 9/11: Holding onto Hope

    September 12, 2014

    I feel so much loss. It’s September 12th, 2014, thirteen years after the terror attacks that I witnessed while living in New York City. I kept a media blackout in my home and my heart yesterday. I don’t want any more images of those burning buildings to flash before my eyes. I don’t want to […]

  • When it’s Grief, Not Depression

    September 9, 2014

    One sleepless night, I tiptoed down the stairs, slipped outside and stared up at the low-hanging moon, so close to me it looked as if it had been pinned against the black canvas with a thumb tack. I reached out a hand to snatch if from the sky, tuck it inside my heart, feel its […]

  • Wildest Dreams: How We Can Learn to Grieve

    September 8, 2014

    On the day my wife died, the house was overflowing. In the room with me were our kids, 2 1/2 and 14, and a few friends who had pretty much moved in with us those weeks when we knew it was the end. Out in the living room were people who had supported us through […]

  • Because My Son is in a Box

    September 6, 2014

    Because my son is in a box on my shelf, I no longer give a shit about how I appear to the outside world.  I do not care that I am misunderstood.  I do not care that I am offensive or seem selfish. For once in my life I have no desire to explain myself.  […]

  • Life Isn’t Short, But Our Memories Are

    September 5, 2014

    You hear it all the time. “Life is short.” “Time goes by so fast.” “It seems only yesterday that ….” “How did I get this age?” “Where did the time go?’” Let’s look at this closely. First, because we sleep about one-third of the time, this leaves 67% of our life in a waking state. […]

  • Working on Posttraumatic Growth, Another Life Journey

    August 31, 2014

    For the past seven years I’ve been learning and writing about grief. In 2007, four family members, including my elder daughter, father-in-law, brother, and former son-in-law, all died. My daughter, mother of our twin grandkids, and the grandkid’s father, died in separate car crashes. I wondered if I would survive these traumatic losses. There was […]

  • Everything Happens for a Reason? Not Necessarily

    August 30, 2014

    Everything happens for a reason. We hear it all the time. I have been hearing it for years from my Psychology students. Part of my job as their instructor is to teach them the art of critical thinking. Yet, when my students get involved in a discussion especially of a senseless tragedy, inevitably many of […]

  • Using the Pen to Return from Grief

    August 29, 2014

    Since my dad’s passing in April of 2012, I’ve learned there are many, varied, and sometimes unusual, ways people find to support their grief and integrate the inescapable reality of loss. No single process is best for everyone. For my own acceptance and eventual comfort, I turned to the pen. His death was not unexpected. […]

  • Don’t Forget to Check Your Dip Stick: Maintaining Strength During Grief

    August 19, 2014

    After crouching on a lime-green foam kneeling pad, he pushed with all of his might against the 6’x6’ thick concrete cover. “Wait, Dad, let me help you,” I interrupted as I joined him by squatting down near the well cover, planting my feet firmly in the bordering sedum. “Oh, I can do it. Just hold […]

  • We Would Have Died For You: The Journey of Bereaved Parents

    August 19, 2014

    From the moment we found out you were coming into our lives, we felt electric: a mix of excitement, adrenalin, and a dose of fear for good measure. We dutifully began plotting the course of our lives together – starting with milestones like kindergarten, puberty, graduation, career, wedding, grandchildren, etc. Then we began making our […]

  • Accepting a New Life After a Multiple Loss

    August 19, 2014

    When I was only thirty-three years old, suddenly one day I felt my life was over and my only future was my past. Up until then, my life seemed magical, full of much love and happiness. Everything had been going according to plan. My husband Bart and I had just finished building our house in […]

  • Another School Year Begins

    August 19, 2014

    We hosted a college graduation party at our house for our nephew last weekend. My husband’s family was here, including our 95-year-old great-grandmother, all four grandparents in various levels of physical health. This made five generations gathered to hear my brother-in-law speak of his three children, who have now all graduated from college, and we […]

  • Robin Williams’ Suicide Brings Back Difficult Memories

    August 12, 2014

    The headlines scream, “Coroner: Robin Williams Death Ruled Suicide by Asphyxiation.” I suppose there’s a bit of a morbid fascination that comes from the death of a celebrity; particularly when the celebrity is young or dies in a particularly salacious way. Robin Williams’ death is one of those. He was both young and his death […]

  • Robin Williams’ Death: When Living is Hard

    August 12, 2014

    Robin Williams’ apparent death by suicide is especially hard for me to fathom. His jocular, insightful, heart-warming and spirit-lifting public presence brought much joy to my life. His creative expressions of talent and spontaneity inspired many throughout the world to bring forth their own unique artistic abilities. Robin had a profound influence on our society’s […]

  • Honoring Robin Williams

    August 11, 2014

    Experiencing sadness or grief can come from feeling that something is missing, something has been lost. When you think about someone now gone who inspired you, made a difference in your life – or, like Robin Williams, someone who made you laugh – ask what qualities of that person you can embrace. Perhaps it is […]

  • Personality Types and Grief: Interview with Dr. Lisa Prossor-Dodds

    August 4, 2014

    At the annual ADEC (Association of Death Education and Counseling) conference, I spoke with Dr. Lisa Prossor-Dodds about Myers Briggs personality types and the different way people grieve. Lisa describes her research as being very exciting, because as she gets deeper into it, she’s starting to see patterns emerge from the data. She says it’s […]

  • Playwright Taren Sterry Finding the Funny in Sadness

    August 4, 2014

    Taren Sterry is a comedic actress and playwright who also teaches improv, presentation coaching, public speaking and team building. She is a full time manager of Volunteer Training at Visiting Nurse Service of NY Hospice and Palliative Care. Her nationally acclaimed one-woman show, 180 Days, is about her first six months working in hospice. Visit Taren […]

  • Adolescents and Grief: Interview with Dr. Ken Doka

    August 4, 2014

    At the annual ADEC (Association of Death Education and Counseling) conference, I spoke with Dr. Ken Doka about adolescents and grief. Adolescents have different issues when it comes to grief. Ken discusses these in detail in the video below. Here are some key takeaways from the video: Adolescents are in transition, and because they’re in […]

  • Responding to Loss: Moving On, Moving Forward, Moving In

    August 2, 2014

    Perhaps you have heard the phrase, “Maybe it’s time to move on…” These words are actually offered as (presumed) words of comfort to grieving people! I still shake my head at the idea that this is said by a friend or family member to someone who is hurting. Move on…to me this suggests “moving away […]

  • Tips for Coping with Traumatic Loss

    July 30, 2014

    ARLINGTON, Va. – Coping with the death of a loved one is never easy, but a sudden and traumatic loss can raise special concerns for the family members and friends left behind. Aviation tragedies, combat, homicide and other types of violent deaths can be particularly difficult. These deaths are unexpected and survivors must grapple with […]

  • Traumatic Grief: Are You At-Risk for Post-Traumatic Stress

    July 28, 2014

    Special article by Jill Harrington LaMorie, MSW, LCSW, DSW This article was first published in Volume 17 Issue 2 of TAPS Magazine. Reprinted with permission. Imagine driving down the street and crossing an intersection. You glance quickly left and right, but out of nowhere you are hit by an oncoming vehicle. The impact is painful, […]

  • Grief Down Under: Australians React to Malaysia Airlines Crash with Compassion

    July 24, 2014

    I arrived in Belgium on 9-11-01, a visitor in a foreign country during a tragically tumultuous time of loss and confusion. Last week, I awoke in Australia to another civilian disaster — the shooting down of the Malaysia Airlines plane — with the same ingredients linking global grief and sorrow. Outcries once again echoed across […]

  • How to Live Through Intense Grief

    July 22, 2014

    Loss has been a prevalent theme intersecting with my life over the past six weeks. In this time, there have been four deaths of people whose lives have touched me warmly: my sweetheart’s precious mother; a beloved cousin; a compassionate former colleague; and, a man whose contagious smile I first remember when we were both […]

  • Life Moves Ahead: Discovering the Freedom to Go With It

    July 12, 2014

    This article was written by Charles W. Sidoti and Rabbi Akiva Feinstein.  It is an excerpt from Living at God’s Speed, Healing in God’s Time. Our world and our individual lives are in the process of evolving.  It is not a question of rejecting the past but of letting the past flow into the present […]

  • The Hand-Knit Shawl, a Linking Object and Labor of Love

    July 11, 2014

    My husband was in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit for weeks. Our minister came to visit him and she had two bulging gift bags. One contained a brown, hand-knit shawl for my husband and the second a blue hand-knit shawl for me. Anonymous members of the church Caring Crafters group made the shawls and the […]

  • My Sister Died and I Waited 16 Years to Deal With It

    July 7, 2014

    I never expected to make a documentary film about my family. I didn’t think of myself as someone who had a story to tell. My sister had died when I was ten years old and by that time her illness seemed pretty normal to me. Aimee was diagnosed with leukemia when I was two years […]

  • Victory Over the Pole: Learning to Let Go

    July 7, 2014

    An intimidating 30-foot pole occupied a notable spot on the challenge-learning course. The facilitator explained that we were to climb the pole. The pole was manufactured with heavy metal staples that created a “ladder”-effect. Once we reached the top of the pole, we were supposed to mount the disk that was attached at the top, […]

  • In Grief and in Joy, Tell Your Story

    July 3, 2014

    “ People are hungry for stories. It’s part of our very being. Storytelling is a form of history, of immortality too. It goes from one generation to another.” —Studs Terkel Recently, I attended the funeral of my uncle, though I found myself making excuses for dismissing my obligation to go. When I read his obituary in […]

  • Five Years After Son’s Death, Dad Wonders if ‘the Blue Skies are Coming’

    July 2, 2014

      As the weather finally begins to catch up with the seasons, I find myself looking back. Beyond the still blue waters and flowered meadows. Back to the time when the only contrast to the vast expanses of ice were the dirt streaked mountains of accumulated snow. When I think about this year’s record snowfall […]

  • Malaysian Airlines Aftermath: A Grandmother’s Perspective

    July 2, 2014

    As soon as I heard a Malaysian Airlines flight 370 had been shot down, I thought of the survivors. I have some understanding of traumatic death because our daughter, the mother of our twin grandchildren, suddenly died in a car crash. The cause of death was “blunt force trauma,” three words I didn’t want to […]

  • Lord, Help Me Let You Be the Shepherd of My Life

    July 1, 2014

    This article was wrtten by Charles W. Sidoti and Rabbi Akiva Feinstein.  It is an excerpt from Living at God’s Speed, Healing in God’s Time. The Psalms are unique among the books of the Bible, revealing a mysterious healing quality in their ability to connect with us at a personal and profound level.  It is […]

  • Declaring Independence From Grief

    July 1, 2014

    Here in the U.S. we celebrate the Fourth of July as Independence Day. It is the day that Congress approved a Declaration of Independence from British rule. It marks the birth of our nation as a free, self-governing entity. The Declaration asserts that everyone has the right to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” […]

  • Do You See the Mystery?

    June 24, 2014

    The first time I saw the ocean, I was fifteen. I walked up a slight hill. The water was not yet in view, but the sky already seemed different, as if it knew what I was about to behold. No buildings, no trees obscured my view. I reached the top of the hill and there […]

  • I Found Hope, Healing and Grace in the Humanity of Christ

    June 24, 2014

    An excerpt from Fortune Cookie Wisdom: a contemplative perspective This reflection is about how we discover the truth in our lives. “From error to error, one discovers the entire truth” – Dr. Sigmund Freud, Austrian psychologist (1856-1939).  Could Jesus, while he walked the earth, identify with Freud’s statement?   If the words are applicable to the human […]

  • Resilience After Death of a Daughter

    June 14, 2014

    Life did not prepare me for August 15, 2001. In one moment on a very ordinary day, the world as I knew it inexplicably changed. I answered the phone to the panicked voice of a friend telling me that my 18-year-old and only daughter Ashley had been killed in an automobile accident. Little did I […]

  • Surviving Grief without Losing Your Mind

    June 12, 2014

    Losing someone you love is like having part of your heart ripped out. Whether death came through sudden catastrophe or a drawn-out disease where there was time to prepare, grief often leaves us with more questions than answers. •What do I do with all the regrets? •Why do people say crazy things when they’re trying […]

  • Sitting in the Dark with Maya Angelou

    June 11, 2014

    Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud. ~Maya Angelou~ I’ve always had the feeling that life loves the liver of it. You must live and life will be good to you, give you experiences. They may not all be that pleasant, but nobody promised you a rose garden. But more than likely if you […]

  • Lucky Charms: It Isn’t Just a Cereal

    June 10, 2014

    LUCKY CHARMS: It isn’t just a Cereal “See a penny, pick it up and all day long you’ll have good luck.” “Don’t step on a crack or you’ll break your mother’s back.” “When you see a hummingbird, think of me.” I grew up hearing the first of these two “sayings” from my father, which resulted […]

  • Grief and the Loss of Control

    June 9, 2014

    Possibly one of the hardest aspects of grief for me has been that I can’t control it. I spent the majority of my life trying desperately to control everything in it. I wanted life to be predictable and – above all – peaceful. The problem has been what I tried to control and how I’d […]

  • Finding a Larger Meaning: Suffering Can Open Us Up

    June 9, 2014

    Challenge is a necessary part of life. And no one is exempt. That includes people like author-teacher extraordinaire Jean Houston. Being “famous” didn’t allow her to opt out of the process. So here are some of her conclusions after meeting difficult times: 1. “It is absolutely essential to look at what happened in fresh ways. […]

  • A Marriage Survives the Loss of a Child

    June 4, 2014

    We have been traveling this grief journey after the death of our son, Clint, for seven years. We didn’t know what to expect along the way for ourselves or for the marriage. In the beginning, we stayed together because we had no energy to do otherwise. Then the suggestion was offered, to stay together because […]

  • Messages of Love

    June 3, 2014

    Over the years since my son’s death by overdose in 2004, I have received many messages and signs from him. Some have come in dreams, some through songs on the radio. Perhaps the most powerful of all have been the heart-shaped stones and shells washed up by the sea to remind me that love never […]

  • Make Time Matter: A Lesson from My Dad

    June 2, 2014

    My father died from complications of bowel cancer, and I held his hand as he took his final breath. Being there, as hard as it was to experience, was a gift to me, and he told me that it was also a gift to him. He endured some very real physical pain and also the […]

  • How to Feel Better in Less Than an Hour

    May 31, 2014

    I often read internet postings from fellow bereaved parents expressing the terrible pain they are feeling after the loss of a child. I hear it in support groups and have lived through it myself. My son, Anthony, died when he was five years old to leukemia four years ago. As I hear and read these […]

  • Maya Angelou’s Death: Navigating the Loss of a Favorite Writer

    May 29, 2014

    I have been positively imprinted by so many wonderful writers that I am also impacted when they die. When Frank McCourt died, my friends & I, all authors, each read excerpts from his books at a cherished, independently owned, local bookstore. I read from Angela’s Ashes. This was our way of paying tribute to Frank, […]

  • When a Mentor Dies

    May 29, 2014

    A special kind of pain is felt when your mentor’s time on earth is through. Whether the person is famous (like writer Maya Angelou) or a family member, the loss can throw you into a tailspin of sadness. Often times, when we are grieving a great teacher or guide, we are not only grieving the […]

  • Death as Part of Who We Are

    May 29, 2014

    We hear a lot about befriending unwanted parts of ourselves. So I wondered if this same language could be applied to our own awaiting destiny. After all like any part that makes up a whole, death is born with us and dies with us. It is an intricate part of who we are and has […]

Open to Hope Radio

  • Jill Kraft Thompson Rebuilding A Life After Losing Five People

    June 19, 2014

    Jill Kraft Thompson had a life filled with love: an adoring husband, two young precious sons, a devoted mother, and a close extended family. Jill’s story begins as everyone’s worst nightmare. In 2002 she lost five close family members in a car crash that she survived. Her beloved young sons, husband, mother and niece were […]

  • Brenda Marshall Ph.D.: Death of an Adult Sibling

    June 12, 2014

    Brenda Marshall Ph.D. is a speaker, coach and educator in the field of bereavement. Her interest in providing help to others, who have lost a sibling, came after the sudden death of her younger brother Brent. She is the author of Adult Sibling Loss:Stories, Reflections and Ripples.

  • Danita Ogandaga: Overcoming the Orphaned Spirit

    June 5, 2014

    Danita Ogandaga is the founder Hope Starts Today and the Orphan No More podcast. She lost both of her parents by the age of twenty-one. She teaches on the topics of grief, restoration, hope and resilience. She is the author of the audio book Overcoming the Orphan Spirit.