• 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 […]

  • 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 […]

  • 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 […]

  • 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 […]

  • 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 […]

  • The Thankful Day: Remembering My Loved Ones

    November 14, 2014

    I live in Minnesota, the land of more than 10,000 lakes, spectacular fall colors, and breathtaking spring times. As soon as the fall leaves start to turn yellow and orange and red, I start to prepare myself for Thanksgiving. It is a difficult holiday for me, and just thinking about Thanksgiving can make my body […]

  • 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 […]

  • 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 […]

  • 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 […]

  • 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 […]

  • Helping the Bereaved Parent Survive the ‘Season of Cheer’

    September 23, 2014

    Once you become a bereaved parent, events that you once looked forward to, you now dread. Everything from the start of the school year right through to Memorial Day is filled with memories that now evoke as much pain as laughter. For most of us, however, it is that period of time between Thanksgiving and […]

  • 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 […]

  • July 4 in Minnesota Lifts Spirits

    July 4, 2014

    With the grueling winter behind us, I, like most Minnesotans, cherish these hot days of summer. Families gather for picnics, hang out at their lake cabins, and squeeze in every bit of outside time they can. Minnesota may be known as the “The Land of 10,000 Lakes,” but on America’s Independence Day, it becomes “The […]

  • 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” […]

  • 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 […]

  • New Year’s Resolutions for the Caregiver

    January 2, 2014

    By Carol O’Dell –

  • New Year’s Resolutions After a Spouse-Loss

    January 1, 2014

    Give yourself a big pat on the back! You’ve just survived the holidays, one of the toughest times for anyone grieving a loss. Now you’re probably looking ahead and wondering how you’ll ever make it through the next twelve months. Here are five suggestions to help gently ease you along the bumpy road of bereavement: […]

  • Holidays — Survival or Defeat?

    December 30, 2013

    The forthcoming holidays are often the most difficult times of the year for bereaved parents, now childless. I have some suggestions that will hopefully assist you during this season. My husband and I have attempted some of the following since our daughter, Rhonda, died and others are ideas from other bereaved friends. YOU WILL SURVIVE […]

  • Good Grief, It’s Christmas

    December 25, 2013

    I am troubled by the many people I know who are suffering today, Christmas Day. Many are grieving recent deaths. Others are grieving deaths that get revisited every Christmas. Almost a week ago, my friend Martha posted on Facebook something to the effect that “Holidays may be nice for other people, but not for me. […]

  • Our First Christmas Without Clint

    December 24, 2013

    My life is divided into before and after, so each holiday or special event that happens my mind rushes back to compare the before and the after. Before Clint’s death, we had the traditional Christmas celebrations. After his death, it was too painful to think of having a Christmas without him. I tried for the […]

  • 10 Ways to Help a Family with a Loss During Holidays

    December 23, 2013

    During the holidays, one of the most difficult events that can happen is when someone passes away. What do you say to or do for the family without adding to the holiday dark cloud? 1. Strictly avoid a holiday “tie in.” In other words, don’t link the death with the holiday by saying something like, […]

  • Keeping Traditions Helps Us to Keep Hope

    December 18, 2013

    My husband has been hospitalized for weeks, most of this time in intensive care. I visit him three times a day, an erratic schedule that doesn’t leave much time for Christmas shopping or baking. “I don’t care if we have a Christmas tree or not,” I announced to my granddaughter. “Putting it up is work […]

  • Holidays Don’t Have to be Harder Than Other Times of Year

    December 16, 2013

    The holidays are here.  This time of year can bring all kinds of stress and anticipation for you and for your living children. Sometimes, just the anticipation can be the hardest part of the holidays.  You may find that you anticipate that the holiday it is going to be difficult.  You may anticipate that it […]

  • Good Grief: The Holiday Edition

    December 9, 2013

    Grief and the holidays are a tough combo. They go together about as well as peanut butter and pickles. Awful. Mourning a loss during this season of joyful celebration is an exercise in endurance and suffering. I know of what I speak: I lost my father, husband, aunt, and step-brother all in December—three in the […]

  • How Someone in Grief can Survive the Holidays

    December 6, 2013

    As the holidays loom, instead of the common anticipation and excitement, individuals who are grieving often feel a sense of dread. Common sentiments are, “How will I be able to cope with the memories and the heartbreak?” or “There is so much pressure to be cheerful and festive, but I’m not in the mood. I […]

  • Holidays and Bereavement: A Different Way to Cope

    November 27, 2013

    All over the web, people are posting “how to survive the holidays” articles. It’s true – this time of year adds an extra measure of pain to people already bearing more than they can, more than they should ever have to. There is the empty seat at the table, the heaviness of all the ways the […]

  • For Those With Bereavement: Healing Music

    November 21, 2013

    The holidays are almost here. Very shortly, some of us will prepare a list of things so we can get ready for the season. It may look like this… Christmas cards? Check! Hanukkah candles? Check! Gifts for children, spouse and parent? Check, check, check! Though Hanukkah and Christmas are joyous occasions for most, they can […]

  • Bereavement and Holiday Traditions

    November 20, 2013

    The first big celebration without my son, Christopher, was his 23rd birthday. He was killed March 21st (1996) and born in May 15th (1974)–I still get the dates mixed up because they are both so significant to me (both months starting with M doesn’t help). We were all so unsure what to do to celebrate […]

  • Embracing Holiday Bereavement

    November 18, 2013

    I had to face it, holidays would never be the same after my husband died. I soon realized that I was never going to share time with my loved one again. There would never be the traditional Christmas shopping together, putting up Christmas decorations, shopping around town for a real Christmas tree, or going to a Christmas party […]

  • Holidays and Bereavement After the Loss of a Child

    November 8, 2013

    Today we usher in the month of November. The holidays are quickly approaching – first Thanksgiving and then Christmas quickly followed by New Year’s. I remember well the pain of those first holidays without Joseph. Prior to his death we were very traditional in the ways we celebrated, but now we didn’t know how to […]

  • Mom Wears a Mask on Halloween

    October 28, 2013

    Monday is Halloween, and although we do not celebrate it like we did when my daughter Marcy was alive and young enough to enjoy the night, we still answer the door to the goblins and fairy princesses from our neighborhood. “How pretty you look,” I say to the young children wearing long princess dresses. “And how […]

  • Enjoying the Holidays … Differently

    October 26, 2013

    By Chris Mulligan – It’s time to party! the television advertisements say this time of year. Party? How could I party when some days I did not even want to get out of bed? I did not want to go to work. I did not want to confront my day. How could I party when […]

  • Twelve Things to Remember about the Holidays and Grief

    October 23, 2013

    1. That I could not predict how I would feel or react at any given moment.  2. That as much as I missed my loved ones I would miss them even more during the holidays.  3. That my feelings were normal.  4. That I have a right to be sad. Someone I loved very much […]

  • Hanging On Through the Holidays

    October 21, 2013

    The music, smell of gingerbread, and shimmering lights usually stir up warm holiday memories, but this year something is missing. Actually someone is missing, and the holiday cheer seems to be making things worse. My most intense journey of grief came suddenly, beginning weeks before the holidays with the death of my mom. “Beazy” was […]

  • Getting Through Halloween after Child’s Death

    October 20, 2013

    On the evening I type this, the nip in the October air is a reminder that the major holidays are just around the corner. Halloween decorations have been in the stores since July and Christmas décor even as early as August. For those of us who are bereaved parents, siblings and/or grandparents this means the […]

  • How the Graveyard Became a Place of Peace

    October 18, 2013

    There’s the joke about the cemetery. “How many dead people are in there?” The answer: “All of them.” Or, “People are dying to get in there.” It brought a smile to my lips the first time a ten-year-old told me. But after my son died, I was wondering why there are so many jokes about […]

  • Thoughts of Holiday Gifts and My Deceased Daughter

    October 17, 2013

    Holidays are a time of reflection and self-discovery for those who mourn.  Four years have passed since my daughter died, and I am still overwhelmed with memories at Christmas time.  Since this was her favorite holiday, I naturally think of her.  I remember the thought she put into selecting and making gifts.  I have dreamed […]

  • Holiday Sorrows and Precious Gifts

    October 13, 2013

    I am sure that I am not alone in approaching American Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years with sorrow in my heart over the death of a loved one.  I hope these reflections will provide guidance for reaching through the sorrows of loss in the coming season. During the holidays, the pain of separation from loved […]

  • Grief Marathon

    August 22, 2013

    Two weeks after her husband’s death on June 30, 2000, trying to get the grief behind her, Diane Dettmer accepted a new position as a literacy staff developer. Traveling with colleagues to training sessions in various parts of the country added more stress and did little to speed up the grief process. Diane and her […]

  • Getting Through Special Occasions

    June 23, 2013

    I will never forget how difficult it was to get through all the special occasions after my husband died. There were just so many “firsts,” whether it was Thanksgiving, Christmas, new babies being born, and Memorial Day. Whatever the occasion was, it was hard. What I learned from that was you just have to do […]

  • A Bike Ride With My Father: His Father’s Day Gift to Me

    June 16, 2013

    Bicycle bicycle bicycle I want to ride my bicycle bicycle bicycle  I want to ride my bicycle I want to ride my bike I want to ride my bicycle I want to ride it where I like From the Song: Bicycle Race, by Queen    “I Have A Thought” At 9:00 am today (6/15/13), I […]

  • Father’s Day Eve…

    June 15, 2013

    Ok, so obviously this isn’t a real holiday, but it is to me.   This made up holiday, is the day before my toughest day of the year, Father’s Day.   It is the one day of the year where I feel really different from everybody else, and only a few people in my life […]

  • The Shadow of My Father

    June 15, 2013

    The following article was originally published by The Grief Toolbox ( on November 21,2012. I received a strong nudge to repost this article about my father on this site on Father’s Day weekend. My dad was only a part of my life for five years, but  he has taught me more in death than he […]

  • Soap on a Rope: A Father’s Day Tribute

    June 11, 2013

    “Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap on a rope.” Bill Cosby Unless you are hiking in the Austrailian outback or cruising the Mediterranean, you probably know Father’s Day is coming up. There’s no escaping the TV and internet images of families grilling out and celebrating dads. This year you might be […]

  • Father’s Day: Time to Discard Anger and Guilt

    June 11, 2013

    By Sandra Pesmen – If you want to celebrate any holiday, especially Father’s Day, you have to learn to deal with anger and guilt. Whether we widows admit it or not, when our spouse dies, most of us feel guilty because we survived. We fear we may not have been as kind as we could […]

  • A Different (But Good) Father’s Day

    June 9, 2013

    Father’s Day is the day that I least look forward to on the calendar.   I know what you’re saying, “Come on Eric, Father’s Day is 4 months away.”   Absolutely right, but bear with me.   As all of you know you have lost a loved one close to your heart, it could be […]

  • Suddenly Single: How To Find Renewal After Loss

    March 24, 2014

    Death is the great equalizer. Be you rich or poor; savvy or naive; any religion; or any race, there is not a family that goes untouched by death or some other type of loss and the subsequent grief that follows. After the death of a loved one, a person is usually vulnerable and, consequently, open […]

Open to Hope TV

  • Grief Relief Television: Handling Death and the Holidays

    December 13, 2013

    Drs. Gloria and Heidi Horsley and their guests will present Handling Death and the Holidays This show is dedicated to giving a voice to grief and recovery, and empowering the bereaved. Special guest Dr. Darcie D. Sims, Ph.D. is a bereaved parent and child, and a nationally known speaker. She is a grief management specialist […]