• Wishing the Holidays Would Go Away: Tips for Coping

    December 5, 2017

    Many people love the first crisp, nip of fall in the air. To those who are grieving, it can coldly cut deep into the spirit and re-open the wound. While children are making wishes to Santa, those that are living with the pain of loss are wishing the holidays would go away. If only wishing […]

  • A Christmas Promise

    November 27, 2017

    On a long-ago Christmas Eve, I made my last visit to a patient as her hospice chaplain. I was honoring a promise made weeks before. While a December storm spit rain, and clouds played hide-and-seek with the stars, I held the hand of a dying woman. In the surrounding neighborhood, holiday lights flickered, inflatable Santas […]

  • How to Own Your Winter Grief

    October 9, 2017

    💨 🕶🍲☕🎃🎄☃ Something many of us learn through the course of years, losses and grief is that it’s far better to take control and OWN YOUR WINTERS, rather than to allow your winters own you. The seasons change & winters come (and go) in the midst of grief, ready or not. And long winters days and nights can […]

  • Grieving for Our Fallen Soldiers This Memorial Day

    May 29, 2017

    Memorial Day is on Monday, May 29th. It’s  a day to stop and reflect on all those who have fought for our freedom and country. Across all types of wars and conflicts, they have been on the front lines, putting their courage to work on our behalf. While we miss these loved ones, Memorial Day […]

  • Webinar: Survival Tips for Mother’s Day

    May 8, 2017

    There are many holidays which can be particularly tough for the bereaved, and Mother’s Day is a big one. Can you celebrate Mother’s Day if your child is no longer living? Of course you can, but you may benefit from some modifications. The Open to Hope show welcomes Dr. Darcie Sims, an internationally renowned speaker […]

  • The Blessing

    February 14, 2017

    Not long before Joanne, my wife, died, she told me she expected me to love again. She said it would “not be right to waste all the lessons we’d learned,” and I was “too young” never to love again. When I replied that I couldn’t imagine any love ever being as good as ours, she […]

  • Valentines Day After the Loss of a Child

    February 1, 2017

    How can you heal after the loss of a child? This is the hot topic on a special webinar of the Open to Hope Foundation, featuring Drs. Gloria and Heidi Horsley interviewing Dr. Bob Baugher. He teaches grief and loss at Highline Community College, is an author at Open to Hope, and has also authored […]

  • Do Our Loved Ones In Heaven Celebrate With Us? Yes!

    December 31, 2016

    For those of us who are grieving, holidays and special occasions can be bittersweet and very painful, as we wish our loved ones were right here beside us celebrating too. However, from my spiritual work and own personal experiences, as well as thousands of others I have ministered to since 1998, I have come to […]

  • I Need to Say Her Name: Surviving the Holidays

    December 21, 2016

    In 2007 my elder daughter died from the injuries she received in a car crash. Helen loved Christmas and the first one without her was indescribably painful. I thought the second Christmas without Helen would be easier for me. It wasn’t. In fact, my grief seemed worse. While my grief has eased during the passing […]

  • Family Traditions, Memories, Help Us Reach the New Year

    December 13, 2016

    I didn’t have a whole lot of experience with grief before my son, David, died 7 years ago. Since then my grief journey has taught me about myself, my family, and that grief is an individual journey we all have to travel at some point in our lives. Of course, the holidays, a time of […]

  • Managing Grief Through the Holidays

    December 12, 2016

    It was Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, the first Thanksgiving without my brother, just months after a drunk driver had ended his life. I needed to get some shopping done and I found myself at a mall. The instant I stepped inside, I was enveloped in holiday atmosphere. Everything shone and glittered, music rang out, scents […]

  • December is the Longest Month of Grief

    December 6, 2016

    December is the most difficult time of year for those of us who have children who are physically no longer with us. For me it begins in late September, with the anniversary of the day my son Richard died. Followed by Halloween. Richard loved Halloween…he took a lot of pleasure in introducing his youngest daughter to […]

  • Handling the Holidays After the Death of a Spouse

    November 22, 2016

    The holidays are often the most difficult time of the year for a grieving spouse. Dr. Heidi Horsley talks with Beverly McManus about how to deal with the holidays following such a tragic loss in this special Open to Hope webinar. McManus serves on the board of directors for the foundation and lost her husband […]

  • Grief’s Linking Objects: The Winnowing Process

    November 12, 2016

    Linking objects–things that belonged to a deceased loved one–are reminders of experiences and feelings. A bereaved son may wear his father’s watch, for example, and a bereaved daughter may use her mother’s dishes. At holiday time I put mother’s cut glass water decanter on the dinner table,  a reminder of her love, guidance, and all […]

  • Christmas Grief

    November 1, 2016

    Even though our daughter, Cyndi, died over 11 years ago, the season of Christmas is still the hardest time for me.  Remembering our little girl opening presents and playing with her five siblings as a child still sears my mind, and constricts my heart.  My husband and I were blessed with six children in 12 […]

  • Día de Muertos: Eat, Speak, and Remember

    October 28, 2016

    The Oxford English dictionary defines “remember” as to “have in or be able to bring one’s mind an awareness of someone or something from the past.” I have thought a lot about remembering or memory since our son Mack died on New Year’s Eve 2012, two weeks shy of his 9th birthday. Often a memory […]

  • Lost (and Found) at Sea: On Grief and Holidays

    July 4, 2016

    Today is July 4, a holiday for most people in our nation. One of the problems with grief, though, is that it rears its ugly head frequently during special occasions. Whether it is watching others celebrate or being reminded of past events including our loved ones, holidays and other milestones seem to coax out the […]

  • Father’s Day: A Duel Between Happiness and Sadness

    June 17, 2016

    The first Father’s Day I remember was when I was 8 or 9, and my dad and I were on an “Indian Guides” camping weekend with our “Tribe.” “Indian Guides” was a father and son organization run by the YMCA, and that weekend lots of fathers and their boys went camping in cabins, roughing it, […]

  • A Message for Mother’s Day: After Mother Has Died

    May 8, 2016

    Yesterday I received a text message saying, “I’m sorry I couldn’t call you back. I had a rough night.” I wasn’t keeping track and couldn’t readily remember what I’d called to say in the first place, so I asked if she was O.K. She responded telling me that a young friend had received a cancer […]

  • How I Survived my First Mother’s Day as a Grieving Parent

    May 5, 2016

    Our 19-year-old son Ben was buried May 2, 2008 – eight days before Mother’s Day. Even though I was still in shock, I knew enough to stay away from church that Sunday. Our minister had always made a big deal out of the holiday, and every mother left the service with a rose. My husband […]

  • A Letter to My Living Children for Mother’s Day

    May 3, 2016

    Dearest ones, Mother’s Day is quickly approaching. Each year, I’ve received beautiful hand drawn cards or beautiful crafts from you that I cherish and save. Your words of love and appreciation are an echo of the profound love and appreciation I feel for each of you. Not just on Mother’s Day, but every day. And […]

  • Webinar: How to Manage the Easter Holiday

    March 23, 2016

    Holidays can be a challenging time for those who have lost a loved one, and with Easter right around the corner, Dr. Gloria Horsley with the Open to Hope Foundation and Alan Pederson with Compassionate Friends have released a special webinar on handling this particular event. This webinar will also feature guest Kay Warren, founder […]

  • Three Years After Son’s Death, the Emptiness is Sacred

    January 8, 2016

    “It is your season, Elizabeth,” our priest greeted me, more than eight months pregnant and my body filled to bursting with our son, John, during Advent 2003. “It is,” I laughed. “I can’t wait to hold him!” Our daughter, Izzy, six at the time, was dubious about a little brother joining her domain in January. […]

  • The Place of Transition: Finding Purpose After Loss

    December 23, 2015

      The following is a sermon by Michelle D. Jarvie, written as a reflection on Isaiah 61 for an Advent Service of Remembrance and Hope.    “I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is […]

  • Keep the Spirit of Your Loved One Alive at Christmas

    December 23, 2015

    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 […]

  • First Christmas Without Mom

    December 22, 2015

    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, […]

  • Snow Globe of Emotions at Christmas

    December 6, 2015

    Reflecting on where I was last Christmas brings up a snow globe of emotions. Sadness, joy, anger, frustration and even relief swirl all around me. A flurry of feelings from my head down through my heart and into my stomach, then back up to my throat and eventually they escape in the form of tears. […]

  • First Christmas without a Son

    December 4, 2015

    The first year my husband and I were married, we lived in Nurnberg, Germany. He was in the army, and I was not about to let him go to Germany for a year without me. We celebrated our first Christmas in Nurnberg. It was a fun time, it was a tough time. We had always […]

  • The Grief Breakfast Club’s December Meeting

    December 3, 2015

    It was December and the last monthly meeting of the “Grief Breakfast Club” for the year. No one could quite remember exactly when it started, but it had been Old Widow’s idea. She wasn’t necessarily “old,” but she had been living without her husband for a number of years which made her “Old Widow” compared […]

  • Not Home for the Holidays

    December 3, 2015

    I vividly remember the day that one of my one of my closest friends called me at 1:30 AM to tell me that her Dad had just died. She had left the hospital and although she was audibly distressed, she was still able to drive herself home. “Do you want me to come over?” I […]

  • Is Christmas Still Christmas?

    December 2, 2015

    Anyone who has lost someone they love knows the numbing-down effect that death brings. Life becomes in some ways a pantomime, a surreal going-through-the-motions of reality. Especially, this is true at the holiday seasons. Three months after our son’s death, I was on my way to have breakfast with a close friend. I began crying […]

  • A Lasting Memory of Christmas Past

    December 2, 2015

    I had kissed Abby and David “good night” and was started back down the stairs, when I stopped at the top riser and paused before heading downstairs. The scene laid out below me, in the living room, was what we often lovingly refer to as “Christmas has thrown up all over our house.” I would […]

  • Cobwebs in December

    December 1, 2015

    By Catherine Lee It feels like a losing battle. Grief is like cobwebs: I am always running into stray bits stretched across my backdoor. No matter how often I attack the baseboards or upper corners of the living room, reaching my broom and duster, no matter how proficient I become at managing my daily domestic […]

  • Winter Grief Activities and Projects

    November 29, 2015

    The long winter months can be especially confining, isolating and challenging when grieving a loss. But you can also engage in unique ways that will help you bear your loss. Here are some ideas for winter (or any time of year): start an indoor gardens/terrariums/terrarium memorial garden take up a new hobby/craft, learn new skills/enhance existing […]

  • Holiday Candle Lighting and Cooking

    November 18, 2015

    The Executive Director of The Compassionate Friends, Alan Pedersen, joins Drs. Gloria and Heidi Horsley during a special holiday edition of The Open to Hope show. He offers advice for bereavement throughout the holidays, which is often the toughest time of year no matter how long ago the loss was. A video segment from the […]

  • Assemble Your Holiday Survival Kit Now!

    November 17, 2015

      It’s here again—the time to assemble my Holiday Survival Kit. I do this every year, well before Thanksgiving, because my deceased daughter was born on this day, and it’s difficult for me. Almost nine years have elapsed since she died, and as the years passed, the contents of my kit changed. What’s in this […]

  • Then and Now: The Roller Coaster of Being ‘Thankful’

    November 16, 2015

    THEN (2008) “Michelle? Are you there?” It was a good question. As the basket passes with blank cards – a tradition in our family for Thanksgiving – my arm seizes, refusing to lift itself and accept the basket. I know what is coming, and so the logical and emotional sides of my brain slip on […]

  • Hope for the Holidays: Grief Guidance

    November 15, 2015

    These are some concerns that have surfaced for others; it is my hope that the conversation is helpful to you. These are guidelines and are not intended to replace counseling, should you feel the need for personal assistance. Q: My husband and I, along with family and friends, are grieving the death of our 7-year-old […]

  • Candle Lighting Ceremony for the Holidays

    November 8, 2015

    Alan Pedersen, Executive Director of The Compassionate Friends, joins Drs. Gloria and Heidi Horsley during this special holiday edition of the Open to Hope show. Pedersen shares a segment from The Compassionate Friends, where Dr. Heidi Horsley currently serves on their board of directors. This is an organization for anyone who’s lost a sibling, child […]

  • The Empty Holiday Plate

    November 4, 2015

    The holidays. Thanksgiving. Christmas. Chanukah. Kwanza. Times to be happy and celebrate. For others, but not for me. For me, it is a time of an empty plate at the table. A remembrance of my child. My child used to sit at that plate heaping turkey and potatoes on his plate. A smile on his […]

  • Inspiring Attitudes and Holiday Help

    November 3, 2015

    I have had the honor of working with people who had or have life limiting conditions. When I was prearranging a funeral for a client who had been given a serious diagnosis, he decided to get his affairs in order. Widowed, he called an old sweetheart and found that she was not in a relationship. […]

  • Helpful Tips For Managing the Holidays For the Bereaved

    October 1, 2015

    While grieving, we go through many firsts as important dates come up on the calendar. Whether it’s the first anniversary, birthday or holiday, it’s good to have coping strategies in place to rely on to help us cope. The holidays can be a particularly difficult time. While we are used to being with our family […]

  • Tips for Handling the Holidays – A webinar from The Compassionate Friends and Open to Hope Foundation

    September 17, 2015

    This exclusive webinar focuses on how to deal with the holidays following a loss. It features Drs. Gloria and Heidi Horsley along with Alan Pedersen, Executive Director of The Compassionate Friends. “You don’t walk alone on your journey,” says Dr. Gloria Horsley, and she knows this can be a very challenging time of year. The […]

  • Summer Memories of my Father

    August 3, 2015

    Summer always comes with the memory of my father, Col. Billy F. Nunley’s funeral.  The funeral service was on July 2nd and that made the fireworks and military tributes of  July 4th a painful echo of the ceremony performed by the Air Force Honor Guard. The sky was a clear blue, the kind of day […]

  • Melissa Pettignano: The Holidays After Loss

    July 15, 2015

    Singer/songwriter Melissa Pettignano joins Drs. Gloria and Heidi Horsley to discuss the death of her aunt during the 9/11 tragedy. Pettignano transitioned from singer to inspirational speaker, today specializing in both and committed to helping others find hope after a tragedy. “When 9/11 happened I was 13 years old, and my aunt was missing…it was […]

  • 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 […]

  • Finding the Good Stuff on Father’s Day

    June 10, 2015

    I will always remember my Uncle Steve in his work clothing, coming home from a long day of repairing cars and trucks. His boots were worn, and his clothing stained with grease. He would be so tired that he would lie down on the carpet. Often, he would fall asleep there from sheer exhaustion. When […]

  • For the Ones Left Behind: A Guide for Helping Loved Ones After a Death

    May 23, 2016

    A death can shatter the lives of those left behind. Now, there are so many things to do. Who do you call? Where do you start? How can you help? Managing to survive in the aftermath of a loved one’s death is a daunting task. For the Ones Left Behind, A Guide for Helping Loved […]

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  • Episode 61:Finding Hope During The Holidays: Tips and Advice

    December 14, 2015

    On this Holiday show Dr. Gloria Horsley and her co-host Alan Pedersen, Executive Director of The Compassionate Friends discuss with Dale Dullabaun and Denise Petersen, bereaved parents of little Dale and Sean, the challenges of getting through the holidays after a loss. Tips and techniques are given to reduce holiday stress. Denise shows crafts that […]