Stephanie Groepper: Spouse Loss

Losing a spouse is unexpected, since you see yourself growing old with this person. Dr. Heidi Horsley talks to Stephanie Groepper, a military widow. She’s a psychology student and the founder of Washington Warrior Widows, a non-profit for widows and widowers in Washington State. Groepper’s daughter is seven years old, and was only four months old when her partner died. In the military, it’s the loss of both a spouse and a lifestyle. As part of the military, it can be a sudden loss of your community. You’re given one year to move off base if you live in military housing.

Children are ripped from their home, schools, and community. Groepper encourages other military widows to keep your head up and actively reach out. Military widows are in the shadows, but out there in full force. There are others who will empathize with you. Head to the Washington Warrior Widows’ website or Facebook page to instantly connect with fellow widows and widowers, and to get insight on support networks close to you.

When Hoping for the Best Fails

Being married to someone in the military comes with an innate risk. Still, nobody thinks such a heartbreaking loss will actually happen to them. You may assume there will be plenty of support from your military community, but that’s not always the case. Many times, widows and widowers need to be the ones actively seeking support. It’s out there, but it can take some work.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, ask a trusted friend or family member to research support resources for you. This can be especially helpful if you have children. It’s a lot to take on yourself, especially if you’ll be moving far from the base where you’re located. Know that you’re not alone, and that help is available.

 

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Heidi Horsley

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Dr. Heidi Horsley is an international grief expert, licensed psychologist, and social worker. She is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Open to Hope Foundation, one of the largest internet grief resources, with over 2 million yearly visitors. She hosts the award-winning Open to Hope cable television show and podcast. Dr. Heidi is an adjunct professor at Columbia University. She serves on the ​National Board of Directors for The Compassionate Friends, the largest peer to peer support organization in the world. She also serves on the National Advisory Board for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). TAPS has served over 50,000 military families who have suffered a loss. In addition, she serves on the National Advisory Board for the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation, and the Children's Brain Tumor Foundation. Dr. Heidi is on the VIP section of Marquis Who's Who in America, Madison Who's Who, and Who's Who of American Women. Dr. Heidi has co-authored eight books, including; Spouse Loss; Fresh Grief; Inspirational Stories for Handling the Holidays After Loss; Inspirational Stories of Healing After Loss; Real Men Do Cry; A Quarterbacks Inspiring Story of Tackling Depression & Surviving Suicide; Teen Grief Relief: Parenting with Understanding Support and Guidance; and Signs and Hope From Heaven. She has appeared on the ABC television show 20/20, has been interviewed by numerous media outlets, and has been a guest on hundreds of radio shows as well as quoted in dozens of media publications, including the Metro World News, Washington Post, Time Magazine, Newsday, Money Magazine, and New York Daily News. Dr. Heidi is also the author of numerous articles and academic book chapters. Dr. Heidi gives keynotes, presentations, and workshops throughout the country, and teaches continuing education workshops for health care professionals on support following trauma and tragedy. For 10 yrs., Dr. Heidi worked as a co-investigator for the FDNY-Columbia University Family Guidance Program; a study which looked at traumatic loss in families of firefighters killed in the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks. Through this 9/11 study, Dr. Heidi provided ongoing intervention and follow-up to firefighter widows and their children, and facilitated groups for bereaved siblings. In addition, Dr. Heidi supervised the school social work staff at Harlem Democracy Charter Schools in NYC for four years. Dr. Heidi's early career included work in a variety of clinical settings, including; Manhattan Psychiatric Center, California Pacific Medical Center Psychiatry Dept., University of San Francisco Mental Health Clinic, St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital Psychiatry Dept., and Hope Haven Residential Treatment Center in New Orleans. Her doctoral dissertation was on the sudden death of a sibling. Her academic credentials include a doctorate in Psychology (PsyD) from the University of San Francisco; a Masters degree in social work (LMSW) from Columbia University, and a Masters degree in mental health counseling (MS) from Loyola University, in New Orleans. Dr. Heidi splits her time between NYC and Tucson AZ.

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  • Kali says:

    Found this article when researching PTSD, my partner was killed when my eldest boy was 6 my youngest boy 12 weeks, on top of that we had to return to the UK from NZ , I have only recently been diagnosed with PTSD my partner died 2013′ can you let me know what help is available? As it is becoming noticeable that is is not ok to just pretend everything is ok
    Kind regards Kali