Why We Read and Write Our Grief Stories

By Richard Beck

As I ponder what to write in my first article for the Open to Hope Foundation, I imagine what it feels like to read about the universal challenges that face us after we experience a loss.

Loss is universal in that death is inevitable for all of us. Some losses leave us without words to describe the pain, the hurt, the rage, the sadness, and the grief that engulfs our souls. As a fisherman, I know that the ocean, Mother Nature herself, has no compassion and no conscience. When storms occur, good sailors can die.

What is the pull to read everyone’s stories of loss and recovery? What is the author’s pull to write their stories of surviving horrific losses?

I believe that this is a two-fold yet related process. We read others stories to not feel alone. We write our stories to feel understood.

Nobody lives in a vacuum.  Loss can make people ill.  It takes people to help people overcome loss.  The readership of these posts are a group who learn from, relate to, and benefit from hearing about the other’s experiences.

We give each other hope, as we learn how other’s have endured, survived and overcome loss. The foundation is the “Open to Hope Foundation.”  I believe that hope is the key for all of us as we live our lives and endure losses of all magnitudes, large and small.

In my future articles, I hope to share how my work with trauma survivors, done in groups, provided a safe container within which safety and trust could become the foundation and cornerstones by which hope could be cultivated and living life fully again could be resumed.

RICHARD BECK, LCSW, BCD, CGP, FAGPA is an adjunct professor at Fordham University School of Social Work, and a psychotherapist in Private Practice in New York City, with expertise in treating trauma and working with individuals, couples and groups.  Richard both trains and treats therapists who work with trauma. After the events of 9/11 and the Hurricanes of 2004, Richard conducted well over 1000 hours of trauma groups with survivors, their families, witnesses and rescue workers. He continues to lecture, teach and lead demonstration groups throughout the country, dealing with trauma and the importance of groups following a traumatic event and loss. Richard recently published the “Unique Benefit of Group following Traumatic Events,” and co-authored an American Group Psychotherapy Association Trauma Protocol entitled “Lessons Learned in Working with Witnesses, Survivors and Family Members after Traumatic Events.”

Richard Beck

Richard Beck

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RICHARD BECK, LCSW, BCD, CGP, FAGPA is an Adjunct Lecturer at Columbia University School of Social Work;  a Psychotherapist in private practice in New York City, with expertise in treating trauma and working with individuals, couples and groups; was recently elected President of the International Association of Group Psychotherapy and Group Process; is a Lecturer in Social Work in Psychiatry (Voluntary) at Weil Cornell Medical Colleague and a Professional Associate (Psychiatry) - Social Work- New York Presbyterian Hospital. The son of two Holocaust Survivors, Richard began his grief/trauma training very early in life. Richard Beck was recently awarded the Social Responsibility Award by the Group Foundation for the Advancement of Mental Health.  It is awarded to AGPA members who have "Provided "Exceptional Acts of Service that have Benefited the Community at Large." Recent presentations have been in Belfast, Ireland, Pretoria, South Africa, Cairo, Egypt; Istanbul, Turkey, Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia, Malmo, Sweden, Berlin, Germany and Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and has upcoming Keynote Presentations in Greece, and upcoming Keynote Lectures in Greece, Italy, and Egypt. Richard has conducted well over 1000 hours of trauma groups with survivors, their families, witnesses and rescue workers after the terror attack on September 11th, 2001. Richard went to Baton Rouge to conduct groups for therapists after Hurricane Katrina. Richard co-authored an award-winning article about the experience of a therapist traumatized by the same event as the people he was treating in groups.   Recently, Richard coordinated the grief response after a crane accident in New York City and also participated in the American Group Psychotherapy Association response to a film company after an FDNY firefighter died during the filming of a movie. Recent publications and presentation have a focus on Loneliness and the Desire to Connect; “Unique Benefit of Group following Traumatic Events";  “Lesson’s Learned in Working with Witnesses, Survivors and Family Members after Traumatic Events”.   Cooking, gardening, and fishing all over the world continue to be of Richard’s passions.  Richard was a guest expert on the radio show Healing the Grieving Heart, discussing Recovering From a Traumatic Event. To hear his interview with Dr. Gloria and Dr. Heidi Horsley. click on the following link: https://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/33572/recovering-from-a-traumatic-event

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