Elizabeth Edwards was a voice of compassion, forgiveness, wisdom and strength to bereaved parents around the world for several decades. All of us owe her a measure of gratitude for illuminating the world of what it means to lose a child and live on honorably.

I had the honor of meeting her last year as part of a panel discussion on grief led by Maria Shriver at The Governor’s Conference on Women in Long Beach California.  Elizabeth was as grief literate as I had imagined but, even more so, she embodied a rare sense of warmth, grace and courage in the way she faced the subsequent losses in her life. I cherished our brief time together and will hold Elizabeth Edwards in my heart with great affection and respect always.

The public nature of Elizabeth’s passing will surely invoke great sorrow from those who share my respect and affection for her. But it will also open and reopen the doors to speculative commentary about her marriage, ex-husband, children and illness.

Taking “the high road” in our moment of sorrow will mean focusing on honoring this wonderful woman’s life. Not digging up dirt.  Showing great concern for her children and family members means showing genuine compassion and respect, not judgment, gossip, blame, condemnation or projection.  With the end of life comes the opportunity to either shut down and become bitter — or to turn our love for the deceased outward into the world in the form of good and honorable deeds of kindness.

Bless you, Elizabeth, from all of us at the Jenna Druck Center, where we will light a tall candle in your name and remember your courage always.

Dr. Ken Druck

Ken Druck

Dr. Ken Druck, Ph.D., a bereavement specialist with the San Diego-based Jenna Druck Foundation (JDF), founded the organization in 1996 to honor the life and death of his daughter Jenna. At age 21, she was killed in a tragic bus accident in India while traveling abroad. The achievements of her youth are the foundation for the organization’s programs: she was selected San Diego’s Young Woman Entrepreneur at age nine; co-founded a leadership camp for high school students and selected a Presidents Leadership Institute Scholar before the age of 19; and was President of her sorority at the University of Colorado. JDF’s Young Women’s Leadership Program, celebrating its 10th anniversary, identifies and provides leadership training to thousands of “undiscovered young teenage women” every year. The Foundation’s award-winning Families Helping Families program provides grief support to families who have experienced the death of a child. After 20 years in clinical practice with leaders in business and government, Dr. Druck founded Druck Enterprises Inc. (DEI), a leading executive coaching and team-building firm based in San Diego. He was one of the first consultants to use the term “Executive Coaching” in the late 1970s. His broad base of clients has included Microsoft, Pfizer, Sempra Energy, IBM, YMCA, Titan, The San Diego City Attorney’s Office and the San Diego City Schools. Recipient of LEAD San Diego’s “Visionary of the Year” award in 2004, Dr. Druck is often called upon to consult in national trauma situations, such as in New York after 9-11 and at Columbine and Santana High Schools after school shootings. Dr. Druck has worked with the FDNY and the U.S. Justice Department and assisted in the rollout of California’s historic violence prevention legislation (SB 1667) in 2004. He was recognized by President George Bush and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani at the one-year anniversary of 9-11 held at Ground Zero - and selected “Family Advocate of the Year” by the California Psychiatric Association. Dr. Druck addresses wide-ranging audiences around the country on the topics of grief literacy, violence prevention, parenting and the healing process, including The Harvard School of Public Health and Young Presidents Organization. He also gives high school assemblies on “Life Lessons from Grief.” He is the author of “How To Talk To Your Kids About School Violence,” “The Secrets Men Keep: Breaking the Silence Barrier” and “Healing Your Life After the Loss of a Loved One,” a spoken word CD which has been distributed worldwide. Dr. Druck has been featured on “Larry King Live”, “Oprah”, “CBS News with Dan Rather”, “ABC News with Peter Jennings”, HBO, FamilyNet and PBS specials, as well as in major newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, USA Today, Christian Science Monitor, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Parade Magazine. He received his doctorate in clinical psychology from the Fielding Institute. Dr. Ken Druck appeared on the radio show Healing the Grieving Heart to discuss “Helping Families After Loss.” To hear his interview with Dr. Gloria & Dr. Heidi Horsley, click on the following link: www.voiceamericapd.com/health/010157/horsley121808.mp3

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