Articles

  • Quiet and Patience are Stepping Stones to Healing

    October 1, 2014

    The earliest feelings of mourning include the initial shock (this can’t be happening), the denial of the reality, and feeling overwhelmed and numb. It is not uncommon to feel some loss of self-esteem and extreme vulnerable. Symptoms usually include a variety of internal complaints, a great deal of crying, insomnia, waking from sleep or not […]

  • Music and Grief

    September 30, 2014

    I was afraid. If death could just sweep in and take Duane and Jody, then none of us is safe. Her death robbed me of an innocence of sorts…the belief that we all will live full lives surrounded by the people we love. But that all changed on January 26, 2003, and, now, I am […]

  • Happy Birthday to a Husband Gone

    September 30, 2014

    I wonder how your Retire-at-55 plan would be going by now? Would we be Florida-bound? Or woefully far from the dream? That seems to be how life goes. We smugly think our plans are well-made, well-plotted, that hard work and diligence paid. Or we think God had other plans or we missed the mark, failure […]

  • Preparing for Winter Blues, Anniversary Reactions, and the Unwelcome Return of Grief

    September 29, 2014

    Fall has come to Minnesota. The trees are turning gold and orange and red. White-winged Juncos, birds in the sparrow family and harbingers of winter, have returned to the backyard feeders. Nights are colder, and there is frost on the lawn in the mornings. Much as I love fall, I’m always a bit uneasy because […]

  • Lightness within Darker Days: Creating Routines

    September 28, 2014

    It’s that time of year again when weather changes, light changes, and layers come out to keep us warm. It’s that time of year again when traditions and aromas of childhood and warmth fill the stores and environments we occupy. Maybe this time, the past traditions and changes don’t fit our outlook of life woven […]

  • Sadness Creeps Back, Sometimes Out of the Blue

    September 27, 2014

    I lost my husband of 35 years nine years ago, and the overwhelming grief that I felt is somewhat of a distant memory. “Yes, somewhat of a distant memory, until something triggers that gut-wrenching heartache,” I mutter out loud as I write. It is strange how it manages to creep back into our lives, out […]

  • The Ruby Connection

    September 26, 2014

    My mother died 2 months after she turned 48. Her boyfriend was suspected in her death, but he was never charged. This left me with no answers, no closure, and no mother. I think this emotional “lostness” created a need for connections to her that I may not have experienced otherwise, at least not at […]

  • Already Among the Dead

    September 25, 2014

    I walk among the dead. This began when my wife died in April 2001. So when the planes slam into the World Trade Center, my heart doesn’t move. The towers collapse, sending clouds of dust billowing into the sky, people stumble into the streets stunned, and I feel nothing. Why should I cry? Why should […]

  • Jump-Start Your Resilience by Telling Your Grief Story

    September 18, 2014

    Resilience is a skill, perhaps an art, learned from life experience. When a loved one dies our resilience may disappear for a while. Much as we want to be resilient, we can’t seem to do it because we’re so mired in grief. At least, that is my experience. In 2007 four of my family members […]

  • The Terms of My Surrender

    September 17, 2014

    From the moment you came into my life, I hated you. I despised you. You came on the heels of my worst nightmare come true – the death of my young daughter. I didn’t know your name at the time. I just knew that you brought with you all the horrible feelings and emotions I […]

  • 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 […]

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.