• Hope

    After Loss of a parent

After Loss of a parent

Stories of others who have lost parents will inspire and support you. Read, listen and watch. Hope is the bridge between loss and recovery.

Articles

  • At My Father’s Desk: Dementia’s Silent Toll

    July 20, 2015

    Grief can elbow its way into life long before death. This I remember . . . I visit my parents’ home. Only Mom lives there now. Because of dementia, Dad has resided in a memory care facility for nearly three months. He sleeps often. Awake he can be silent. Alert, he will often express himself […]

  • Fatherly Influence: Transcending Biology and Time

    June 20, 2015

    The first time my adoptive father, Taner, tried to teach me a lesson was over green peppers that had formed a pile on the side of my plate. I was five years old with classically frustrating picky-eater syndrome, and I didn’t want those peppers. But being the new father figure in the previously single-parent household, […]

  • Running from Dad’s Death

    June 16, 2015

    “I need to see Dad,” I said to Mom. I stood in my parents’ bedroom. My mother’s clothes were strewn on the floor and the bed was unmade. “I’m in a hurry, Elaine. I have to get to the hospital.” “I know,” I said. “Take me with you. I want to see Dad. He’s MY […]

  • Emergency 2009: A Father Falls

    June 14, 2015

    It’s getting close to dinner time and I’m in the kitchen, ingredients on the counter and a pan heating up. The phone rings. It’s my mother. It’s not a usual time for her to call, but I don’t think much of it. “Cheryl, something terrible has happened.” I have that strange feeling you get when […]

  • The Death of My Father: Lingering Guilt

    June 13, 2015

    January 11, 2003, I sat on my father’s bed chatting with him at the Mercer Island Care Center. At age 80, he was attempting to recover from a bout of pneumonia. At around 9:30 pm, I kissed him good-bye, got up from the bed and said I’d see him tomorrow. I can still see him […]

  • My Fathers in Heaven

    June 11, 2015

    Both my fathers are in Heaven. For me, it has always been this way. If God watched me from the moon, Daddy rested on the brightest nearby star. I grew up dreaming of the time I would get to meet my Daddy, face to face. I sought out his footsteps, so I could somehow follow […]

  • A Letter to My Daddy in Heaven

    June 10, 2015

    Dear Daddy, It’s been a long time since I’ve written to you. I miss doing that. We shared so many big and little things in our frequent emails and phone calls. Our conversations shrank the distance and connected us every day. Now that you’re gone from this earthly plane, I miss those exchanges dearly. Our […]

  • Gone Too Soon: A Father’s Day Remembrance

    June 8, 2015

    Fathers are so important in our lives. To those fathers who are still with us, Happy Father’s Day. To those fathers who preceded us in death, who are gone too soon, we remember you. A special shout-out to all of the single fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers, father figures, uncles, clergy, godfathers, neighbors, counselors, support group facilitators, […]

  • Is it Still OK to Cry?

    May 20, 2015

    It was Mother’s Day weekend, and life was especially good. With our kids scattered across the country, the idea of traveling to Colorado to spend a couple days with our daughter, Amy, seemed like the perfect way to celebrate. I stopped in an airport restaurant for breakfast and crossed paths with one of the friendliest […]

  • Mother’s Day Haikus

    May 9, 2015

    Editor’s note: We recently asked our contributing writers to create Haikus related to Mother’s Day. Here are some of the poems. Hard being a mother When your child is far away Hug them in your heart – Neal Raisman An angel you are A bright light among the stars And for you, I weep – […]

  • What is Mother’s Day after Mother is Gone?

    April 26, 2015

    What is Mother’s Day? A day to honor mothers. To me, it’s also the day that American University hosts its graduation. May 13, 2007, I sullenly watched David Gregory give a very witty speech about something I’m fairly certain was inspirational. My mother died the year before and I wasn’t in the mood for Mother’s […]

  • Returning: When the Matriarch Dies

    April 11, 2015

    “Where are we going?” she asked again. “We are going to get your hair done,” I tell her for the third or fourth time in the last few minutes. I look over at my mother-in-law, “Min” as her grandchildren had renamed her. She nods and looks out the window. Her hair is a mat of […]

  • 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 […]

  • 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 […]

  • 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, […]

  • 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. […]

  • 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 […]

  • 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 […]

  • 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 […]

  • 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 […]

  • 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. […]

  • 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 […]

  • The Chauffeur’s Flower: Memories of an Early Loss

    July 26, 2014

    The day of my father’s funeral stands out in my mind. I remember blue sky and sunshine. It was six days after my eleventh birthday. At the end of the day, the chauffeur from the limousine handed me a carnation he had been wearing. I took it home, pressed it and always remembered the kindness […]

  • Father-Daughter Bond Continues Beyond the Grave

    June 15, 2014

    My last visit with my father began three days before his passing. I had known him as a man of few words, so the intensity and depth of the conversation we shared about the life we had spent together marked me indelibly. He emphasized that he wished he “had been able to do more [for […]

  • My Father’s Final Gift

    June 14, 2014

    I would like to share my father’s final gift with you – a gift he unknowingly gave to me in death.  I received this most precious gift on a beautiful sunny day in April.  I’ll never forget the sky, it was so blue and the air was so crisp – God had created a simply gorgeous […]

  • Letter to a Lost Father

    June 13, 2014

    Dear Dad, It’s been 26 years since we last celebrated Father’s Day together. I think about your time here on Earth and I rejoice in your spirit. Born in the early 1900’s, you saw so many things. You were raised Jewish, yet you chose to let us be who we were; it did not matter […]

  • 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 […]

  • Unravelling of Life … My Sweater

    June 3, 2014

    The sweater clothed me It sheltered me daily It covered my wounds It kept me safe It was comfortable   The occasional yarns that dangled or sprout forth Were quickly yanked away or shorn down No need for them. What I had clothed me   One day Father Jim hugged me A priest on a […]

  • 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 […]

  • Playwright Ann Randolph on Writing about Grief

    May 28, 2014

    How is a performance and a post-show creative writing workshop sparking a national discourse on grief? This and more when memory artist Nancy Gershman sits down with playwright and comedian, Ann Randolph to talk about her one-woman show, LOVELAND – and the transformative and healing power of writing about grief.  Learn more about Randolph’s week-long “Write Your Life”workshops, by visiting […]

  • 3 Ways To Find Hope After Loss: Interview with Dr. David Meagher

    May 18, 2014

    At the annual ADEC Conference, I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. David Meagher and discuss with him ways that people can find hope again after loss. Dr. Meagher is a pediatric surgeon who practices in Ohio, but he is originally from New York.  I’m a fellow New Yorker as well, and as we […]

  • Childhood Grief: An Interview with Chase Roberts

    May 17, 2014

    In this video, Jesse Roberts, the author of Katie the Ladybug: Explaining Emotions of Grief to a Child, speaks of his own experiences and encourages those who are helping grieving children to be honest, concrete, and sensitive when discussing the topic of death. Losing both of my parents before the age of 16 inspired me […]

  • Grieving for Dad: Interview with Lara Rogers-Krawchuk

    May 17, 2014

    By Lara Rogers-Krawchuk In this video, I will share lessons learned from my long time work as an oncology social worker, therapist, adjunct professor, and lover of the contemporary concept of meaning making along a grief journey.  I will also offer personal insights from being the daughter of a dad who died much too young […]

  • Write Your Mother A Letter

    May 13, 2014

    Many of us are missing our mothers who reside in Heaven. Because God provides that they still see and hear us, it is never too late to talk to them or write them a letter. For Mother’s Day, please consider writing your mother a letter and then reading it out loud to her. Have a […]

Open to Hope TV

  • Episode 49: Trauma Treatments

    May 7, 2015

    On this show Dr. Gloria Horsley and Dr. Heidi Horsley discuss with Dr. Bessel Van der Kolk author of The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma EMDR and Neurofeedback for repairing faulty connections and connectivity patterns. Dr. David Fajgenbaum joins the group to discuss how the death of […]

  • 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 […]

Open to Hope Radio

  • Creating a Grieving Sanctuary: Alexandra Kennedy MA MFT

    April 9, 2015

    Alexandra Kennedy MA MFT is a psychotherapist and author of Honoring Grief: Creating a Space to Let Yourself Heal, Losing a Parent, The Infinite Thread: Healing Relationships Beyond Loss,and How Did I Miss All This Before? Waking Up to the Magic of Our Ordinary Lives. She offers a unique perspective to grieving through her work […]

  • Writing Through Losses: Neil Chethik

    April 2, 2015

    Neil Chethik is the author of the book, FatherLoss: How Sons of All Ages Come to Terms With the Deaths of Their Dads. He is the articles editor of the Open to Hope website. He is also a bereaved sibling. In 2011, his brother Peter died at the age of 55 after 35 years of […]

  • Spirituality and Grief: Lisa Irish

    February 12, 2015

    Lisa Irish is no stranger to loss. At age 2, her mother’s paralyzing car accident changed a normal childhood. At 11, her father died, and at 25, her mother died. She learned to look through the lens of loss, felt its power and trusted its teaching. Today she understands herself as a woman of hope […]

  • 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 […]

  • 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.

  • Rebecca Soffer: Modern Loss Coping with Grief in a Digital World

    October 30, 2014

    Rebecca Soffer is the co-founder of Modern Loss a website geared to young adults addressing the many permutations of loss, from miscarriages to a parent’s death.  Ms. Soffer lost both her parents, her mother to an automobile accident and her father to a heart attack.

  • Jill Smolowe: Resilience In A Time of Grief

    October 16, 2014

    Within 17 months award-winning journalist and author Jill Smolowe lost her husband, sister, and mother.   Jill, a senior writer for People, desiring to help others, used her experience to write Four Funerals and a Wedding:  Resilience In A Time Of Grief. Jill then became a grief and transition coach helping clients learn how to restore […]

  • Navigating Grief and Trials: Kathleen D. Hamilton

    July 24, 2014

    Kathleen D. Hamilton has suffered a number of tragedies including the deaths of her mother and twelve year old daughter.  She has coped with a brain-injured son and has grieved two broken marriages. Reaching out to help others she has been a facilitator with “The Compassionate Friends” and has worked in the funeral industry. She […]

  • Handling Grief, Loss of Our Parents: Nina Impala

    July 3, 2014

    Nina Impala has both personal and professional experience with bereavement.  She has lost both parents and has recruited and trained hospice volunteers.  Nina is a Spiritual Grief Counselor who gives people tools to cope through her process of using HeartSight™.  She is the author of Dearly Departed: What I Learned About Living From The Dying.

  • Julie Saeger Nierenberg: Death of My Dad

    June 26, 2014

    Julie is a writer, editor and author coach. Inspired by the journey of love and release through her father’s end of life. Julie writes to contribute to a cultural shift in how we prepare ourselves and support others in the final chapter of life. She is the author of Daddy, this is it. Being-with My […]

  • 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 […]

  • 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.

  • Beth Marshall: Getting Unstuck from Grief

    May 22, 2014

    When Beth Marshall lost both her parents within a few short years, she searched for light at the end of the tunnel… hoping it wasn’t a train! Surviving loss, recovery and ultimately finding new purpose led her to write A Time to Heal, a grief journal.

  • Beth Rotondo: Hope For Those Who Grieve

    May 8, 2014

    Beth Rotondo has worked in the bereavement for 20 years.  She has lost an infant, parent, and sibling.  Her losses and expertise have made her a comforting companion for those who grieve.  She is the author of Threads of Hope and The Big Chair.