Articles

  • 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 […]

  • 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 […]

  • Writer Penny Slusher on Somber-Free Rites

    January 8, 2015

    Buying presents for the dead and gifting them; knowing your “mama dance” and texting as the deceased: this and more when memory artist, Nancy Gershman talks with writer and actress Penny Slusher about somber-free rites. Currently, Slusher is working on a one-woman show about the house she grew up in Bristol Tennessee, and how living with tragic events affected the family […]

  • Winter Without Son is Lusterless

    December 26, 2014

    When your child dies, the holidays quickly lose their luster. The entire spectrum of lights is muted to a dull gray, while the endless barrage of seasonal music only brings out the blues. When you combine that with freezing temperatures and the whirlwind of activities, it can lead to treacherous living conditions. Additionally, a string […]

  • Merry Christmas, Dad!

    December 25, 2014

    I sat in my car. I wasn’t sure I had the nerve to do it. I looked at the letter I held in my hand. Would this work? Could I possibly find peace after 26 years, merely by reading a letter aloud? It was a suggestion by a friend. Write your dad a letter and […]

  • How to Fill an Empty Stocking

    December 24, 2014

    It is the day after Thanksgiving, or “black Friday” as most of us refer to it these days. I imagine myself in my best holiday shopping outfit complete with new leather boots, a warm peacoat and a bright holiday scarf. I navigate the Vintage Faire Mall parking lot like a champion. With my non-fat, extra […]

  • Keep the Spirit of Your Loved One Alive at Christmas

    December 23, 2014

    When the holiday season arrives, it takes me back in time. It is a bittersweet relive of the memories of Christmas past. I gave birth to two sons, Chris was my youngest and Jason my first born. The boys were best friends and partners in crime. My holidays were full of joy and meaning because […]

  • We’ll Celebrate Her Life; We’ll Sing

    December 22, 2014

    When the doctor in the emergency room asked Dad, “How long has your daughter been drinking?”, it broke his heart and it made him mad. “You don’t know this girl,” he said. “You don’t know my daughter.” After Jilly died on July 3, 2014, Dad and I talked on the phone nearly every day for […]

  • How I Magically Found the Spirit of the Season

    December 21, 2014

    I thought this year was going to be different. The Thanksgiving holiday was here, and I showed no signs of the “Holiday Dreads.” That’s what I secretly call my emotional state when the holiday season arrives. You see, I am a 68 year old widow. I’ve been a widow since 2005, so I’m not a […]

  • Play Helps Lessen Grief

    December 17, 2014

    My grandson, Timothy, pulls his hood around his five-year-old face with the strings left dangling down his chest and his coat unzipped. A sock monkey droops its body half way out of the lime green backpack that bounces along the gravel driveway. Cold drizzle hit us in the face as we hurry to the car […]

  • Holiday Letter to a Young Widow

    December 13, 2014

    Dearest Heart, This season reminds me of endings, but also of a December long ago that was a beginning. After one of the most challenging periods of Gary’s cancer and time at an alternative clinic, he returned looking much healthier. With both of us rested, we could breathe, share a beautiful Christmas, and re-embrace each […]

  • Finding Christmas and Peace after the Death of a Child

    December 12, 2014

    Decades have passed since my infant daughter’s first Christmas. Baby Helen was only a month old when Christmas came. Because my husband and I were financially strapped, there were few presents under the tree, and most were for the baby. When I went to bed on Christmas Eve, I barely slept. All I could think […]

  • 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 […]

  • First Christmas Without Mom

    December 10, 2014

    I’m searching the internet for ways to get through this first festival of lights season without my mother. The articles I read about loss and the holidays offer helpful tips for getting through it. So many helpful suggestions: find meaning in your traditions, ask for help, plan ahead, discover what has most value to you, […]

  • Connecting to the First Christmas

    December 9, 2014

    No money down, no interest and nineteen months to pay, the holiday season is upon us. No other holiday brings up so much emotion as Christmas. There is a rise in alcoholism, abuse and depression. No wonder we feel the pain of the loss of our loved ones at this time. I think about the […]

  • Wishing the Holidays Would Go On By

    December 5, 2014

    At least I don’t have to deal with Christmas. It must be terrible for those who used to rejoice in the holiday. One less present under the tree. One less diner at dinner. One less reason to go on. And everyone else happy and smiling. It’s Christmas. The happiest time of the year. Rejoice in […]

  • What Bereaved Families Can Expect – Interview with Harriet Sarnoff Schiff

    December 2, 2014

    HEALING THE GRIEVING HEART What Bereaved Families Can Expect As Time Goes On Host: Dr. Gloria Horsley With guest: Harriet Sarnoff Schiff June 16, 2005 Today I am much honored to have as my special guest international grief expert and author Harriet Sarnoff Schiff. Harriet Sarnoff Schiff is the author of two classic works on […]

  • The Last Christmas Stocking

    November 30, 2014

    The first Christmas stocking I ever made was in 1960. I was 10 years old and living in Walnut Creek, California with my parents, Ted and Lillian. We didn’t have too many Christmas rituals, no church services or Advent candles. There was a china nativity set. It was small, but had all the important characters. […]

  • Healing Through the Holidays

    November 29, 2014

    The holidays approach. “Holidays” meaning Thanksgiving, then Advent, Hannakah, Solstice, but ultimately Christmas, and then New Year’s. ‘Tis the season…to be jolly. Increasingly it is a commercialized, consumer event of trees and trimmings, treats and gifts—purchasing an experience of gaity, cheer, warmth, togetherness, presence. When absence is a constant companion, when loss is fresh and […]

  • 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 […]

  • One Solstice: A Family Ritual of Love, Remembrance, and Hope

    November 27, 2014

    My son Anthony arrived from California around three a.m. After a few hours’ sleep, he woke up groggy-eyed, made a pot of coffee, and took a run. He didn’t have much to say, so I let my words rest. My sons and I have been through big changes since their dad, my husband Vic, died […]

  • Mourning Mother

    November 25, 2014

    Exactly a month after my mother’s death, I’ve boarded a plane for Toronto, Canada to train with the cancer center there in their protocol, CALM (Managing Cancer and Living Meaningfully). It’s hard to leave home right now. I stick close to my wife and become easily overcome by the many details of living. On the […]

  • 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 […]

  • She Called Me Sweetie

    November 17, 2014

    There wasn’t one definitive phone call that I could point to and say that this was the moment when I knew to I had to go home and visit her. There were a few conversations with various people, my mother, brother, my Uncle Charles* (not by blood, nor was She, just my parents dear friend’s. […]

  • Never Give Up

    November 16, 2014

    When things are bad and don’t seem to be getting better, don’t give up hope. There is always a better way if you are willing to keep looking until you find it. ~John Pete ❂ ❂ ❂

  • 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 […]

  • Activities to help Children Process Grief: Interview with Dr. Natalie Carlos

    November 15, 2014

    At the annual ADEC (Association of Death Education and Counseling), I spoke with Dr. Natalie Carlos, who works in the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, about her work with children and grief. Natalie got into this field after being motivated and inspired by her own personal experience. Natalie’s mom died after a two-year battle with […]

  • Bereavement and Adolescents: Interview with Dr. David E. Balk

    November 13, 2014

    At the annual ADEC (Association of Death Education and Counseling), I spoke with Dr. David E. Balk about grief and adolescents. David is the author of a book called Dealing With Dying, Death, and Grief During Adolescence. In the video below, David discusses social media and the internet and how it has changed the face […]

  • 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 […]

  • 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 […]

Open to Hope Radio

  • Military Loss of a Son: Don Lipstein

    January 22, 2015

    Don Lipstein, is a Peer Mentor Support and Training Coordinator for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors of Military Loss (TAPS).  Don joined the TAPS Team in July, 2012, after receiving support due to the suicide death of his oldest son, Joshua.  He plays an important role in providing hope and healing to military survivors […]

  • Military Loss of a Spouse: Kim Ruocco MSW

    January 15, 2015

    Kim Ruocco MSW, is the Manager for Suicide Outreach and Education Programs at The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors of Military Loss (TAPS).  In 2005 her husband Major John Ruocco, U.S. Marine Corps, a decorated Cobra gunship pilot and father of two sons lost his life to suicide. He had returned from a tour in […]

  • 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 […]

  • Bereavement Support: Dr. Wendy Lichtenthal

    January 1, 2015

    Dr. Wendy Lichtenthal, PhD is a clinical psychologist who directs the Bereavement Clinic at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.  Early losses have driven her to focus her research on developing effective interventions for the bereaved and identifying those in need of bereavement support.

  • Handling The Holidays After Loss: Melissa Pettignano

    December 25, 2014

    Melissa Pettignano is the CEO of MPettignano Enterprises, LLC. One of the biggest losses she had to deal with was losing a family member in the September 11th, 2001 World Trade Center Attacks. Melissa is an Award-Winning Professional Music Artist, Songwriter, Author, Entrepreneur, inspirational Speaker and Humanitarian.

  • A Good Goodbye: Gail Rubin

    December 18, 2014

    Gail Rubin, CT, is author and host of the award-winning book and television series A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die. She’s a Certified Thanatologist, that’s a death educator, a Certified Funeral Celebrant and a speaker who uses humor and films to get conversations started on death, dying, advance directives […]

  • Dating After The Loss of a Spouse and a Child; Guest: Abel Keogh

    December 11, 2014

    At age twenty-six, after the tragic suicide of his wife and the death of their 9 day old baby Abel Keogh unexpectedly found himself a young widower and bereaved parent.  Abel works in marketing for a technology company and is also the author of the memoir Room for Two, and four relationship guides. His current book […]

  • Hope After Loss: Guest Angela Miller

    December 4, 2014

    Angela Miller is a writer, survivor, bereaved parent of Noah, and grief advocate who provides support and solace to those who are grieving worldwide. She is the author of You Are the Mother of All Mothers: A Message of Hope for the Grieving Heart. Angela writes candidly about child loss and grief without sugar coating […]

  • Dr. David Fajgenbaum: Support Network For Grieving College Students

    November 20, 2014

    While a student at Georgetown University, David Fajgenbaum, MD, MSc founded Students of National Students of AMF Support Network, a peer-led grief support group and service program, in memory of his mother, Anne Marie Fajgenbaum. Dispite health challenges David carries on with his work and is currently an MBA Candidate at The Wharton School of Business.

  • Michele Neff Hernandez: Soaring Spirits

    November 13, 2014

    Michele Neff Hernandez is a bereaved spouse and the founding President, and Executive Director of the Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation providing resources and peer support to people grieving the loss of a partner. Soaring Spirits has met the needs of over 500,000 widowed people around the world, and continues to increase their reach through innovative […]

Open to Hope TV

  • Episode 40: Helping Families Deal With Drug and Alcohol Overdose

    January 14, 2015

    On this show Dr. Gloria Horsley and Dr. Heidi Horsley interview Barbara Allen whose son, Jim, overdosed on heroin and alcohol in 2003.  She is the founder of  “Shatter the Stigma” an organization with the goal of bringing the disease of addiction into the light of hope and healing.  Joining her on the show is […]

  • Episode 39: Finding Hope After Multiple Deaths

    January 14, 2015

    On this show Dr. Gloria Horsley and Dr. Heidi Horsley interview Jill Kraft Thompson an amazing woman who has re-built her life after losing five people she loved the most. She survived the car crash that killed five members of her family – her husband Bart, her two sons, Ben and Sam, her mom and […]

  • Episode 38: Traumatic Loss 9/11

    January 14, 2015

    On this show Dr. Heidi and Dr. Gloria Horsley interview Susan Esposito Lombardo whose father Billy Esposito, vice president and partner at Cantor Fitzgerald was killed on the 104th floor of the north tower on 9/11.  In his memory the family founded A Caring Hand, The Billy Esposito Foundation and Bereavement Program helping grieving children […]

  • Episode 37: Sibling Loss

    November 30, 2014

    On this show Dr. Gloria Horsley and Dr. Heidi Horsley discuss with comedian Jordon Feber and Keith Singer the impact of the loss of their siblings and how they have found hope after loss and gone to inspire others who have lost brothers and sisters.  Both Jordon and Keith are involved with The Compassionate Friends […]

  • Episode 35: Grieving Disability and Death

    November 11, 2014

    On this show Dr. Gloria Horsley and Dr. Heidi Horsley discuss with  Louise Bruce, bereaved mom the experience of losing two special needs children, Laura and Chris.   Louise has honored the children by starting the LaChris Connection serving families of kids with disabilities.  The second guest is Isabel Stenzel Byrnes, Hospice social worker, Cystic […]

  • Episode 34: Making Meaning After Loss– Golden Gate Bridge

    November 11, 2014

    On this show Dr. Gloria Horsley and Dr. Heidi Horsley interview Sue Story and David Hull both bereaved parents whose children died after jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.  Sue and David have gone on to honor their children by advocating for safety changes in the bridge and suicide prevention.  David is the co-founder of […]

  • Episode 32: Treating Trauma (EMDR)

    November 11, 2014

    On this show Dr. Gloria Horsley and Dr. Heidi Horsley discuss with Dr. Christopher Sato-Perry and Dr. Jean Schellenberg their use of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) in treating trauma. The show closes with music by Peter Anderson and Randy Cookson.