Born in Brooklyn, New York and now living in Westchester County, New York, Anne Byrnes thought that “living happily ever after” was a way of life for her. She was blessed with a husband who loved her and four healthy children. She lived that life for 20 years. In 1984 “living happily ever after” ended in the blink of an eye when her 17 year old son Jimmy was killed in an alcohol related car crash. To say the shock was severe is an understatement. Shock waves continue today, especially as the anniversary of his death approaches. The whole family was shattered; emotionally, physically and spiritually. Anne believed no one could understand the depth of her pain except another bereaved parent, so her husband, her priest and she developed a monthly self-help support group for grieving parents. This group met for approximately 15 years. After Anne took responsibility for the group, she realized the need for credentials. While working full time she accomplished her college career; an undergraduate degree in Human Services and a Master’s in Counseling. Proud of her accomplishments in grief and bereavement counseling, she took the job as Director of Bereavement Services of a palliative care center in The Bronx, New York. This was the job her experiences and empathy were made for. She developed and oversaw support groups for grieving parents, children, spouses. She held training programs for professionals and led workshops on various types of grief and bereavement. Anne and her priest developed and coordinated spiritual retreats for bereaved parents. She led these spiritual renewing retreats for ten years. Since the sudden death of her husband, a hero New York City Firefighter, Anne realized the need for time and space for her own bereavement process, so she stepped down from her position. She now volunteers her time and expertise facilitating bereavement support groups for her church, a local bereavement center. She is thrilled to be offered this opportunity to be a contributing author for Open to Hope. Anne appeared on the radio show Healing the Grieving Heart to discuss “Losing a Child & Then a Firefighter Husband in the Aftermath of 9/11.” To hear her interview with Dr. Gloria & Dr. Heidi Horsley, click on the following link: www.voiceamericapd.com/health/010157/horsley041907.mp3
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