Grieving shouldn’t just be a passive process—but many people need help being proactive about it. Dr. Gloria Horsley from the Open to Hope Foundation recently spoke with proactive grieving expert Mitch Carmody of Heartlight Studios about what it means to grieve in a proactive manner. Carmody brings his own experience to the table, having lost his son 27 years ago and experiencing more losses throughout the decades. “Trying to navigate this dark journey, I grieved like my mother used to,” he says. In the past, grief was something you hid away, and that’s still an approach used (and even encouraged) today.

“Put it behind you, buck up and get over it,” is how Carmody explains it. However, as an artist, he just couldn’t do it that way. Instead, Carmody committed to bringing his son Kelley “back” by establishing a new kind of relationship with his son. “That brought my life back,” he says, and proactive grieving is born. If something’s broken, including your heart, there are only a few options: Throw it out, fix it, put it away to forget or repurpose it. Carmody recommends repurposing it.

Claiming Your Grief

It’s possible to “sit on the shelf” and “coast through life.” Others throw their heart away, be it through suicide or simply by not living life. Carmody explains that by handpicking what works for you, and with a lot of work, you can bring the joy back into your life. “We need to get out the tears because they’re toxins,” but don’t forget about the joy. “Turning your loss into a legacy” is what Carmody preaches, and how he recovered himself.

You’ll discover a plethora of things within you to make your life joyful, while still keeping that “lost” life alive and present within you. Many people around you may avoid talking about your lost loved one, but “we crave having the name said,” says Carmody. Encourage those around you to talk with you about your loved one who’s passed. Most people don’t know how to provide comfort, but they want to be told and they want to deliver. “Say the name, keep your loved one present,” he says.

You won’t get over it, but you can learn to live with the loss.


Mitch Carmody

After suffering many familial losses from a young age and ultimately with the death of his nine-year-old son of cancer in 1987, Mitch Carmody, has struggled with the grief journey and how grief is processed and perceived in this country. He published a book in 2002 called “Letters To My Son, a journey through grief." The book has now reached the bereaved in every state and 7 other countries. From the book’s success he now travels locally and around the country lecturing on the grief process and/or conducting workshops on surviving the loss of a loved one. He has also conducted a variety of workshops with The Compassionate Friends and Bereaved Parents USA as well as a sought after speaker for many keynote presentations. As a trained hospice volunteer, he has also helped many loved ones and their families through the dying process. Mitch has published several articles in national bereavement periodicals, is a frequent contributor to TCF Atlanta On-line and currently a staff writer for Living with Loss Magazine. Through email correspondence on his website he council’s the bereaved on a daily basis. Since the death of his son 19 years ago, Mitch has dedicated his life to helping those individuals and families whom are trying to navigate in the uncharted territory of death, dying and the bereavement process. Through his compassionate insight and gentle spirit he will touch your heart and hopefully give you tools to aid you on your journey Mitch lives in rural Minnesota with my wife of thirty years, he enjoys riding my horses, gardening, writing, helping others, giving blood monthly and creating works of art. He is also a proud first time grandfather to the daughter of their surviving daughter Meagan. To learn more about Mitch and his work, go to: Mitch appeared on the radio show “Healing the Grieving Heart” discussing “Letters From My Son.” To hear Mitch being interviewed on this show by Dr. Gloria and Dr. Heidi Horsley, click on the following link: Mitch appeared again on the radio show “Healing the Grieving Heart” discussing the Holidays, Helpful or Hurtful? To hear Mitch interviewed by Dr. Gloria & Dr. Heidi Horsley, click on the following link:

More Articles Written by Mitch