On an ordinary September day, twelve-year-old Jack is swept away in a freak neighborhood flood. His parents and younger sister are left to wrestle with the awful questions: How could God let this happen? And, Can we ever be happy again? They each fall into the abyss of grief in different ways. And in the days and months to come, they each find their faltering way toward peace. In Rare Bird: A Memoir of Loss and Love, Anna Whiston-Donaldson unfolds a mother’s story of loss that leads, in time, to enduring hope. Visit her blog, An Inch of Gray
by Don Prince
None of us ever wants to admit defeat. It is not in our nature. What makes it even more difficult for people like us is what we do. We are the ones going in, giving aid, support, sacrifices and sometimes even our lives in order to save others. We are supposed to be the invincible ones and for the most part we are. But ultimately we are all human; we act and react differently to situations both in and out of the “job”.
Pressure, stress and pain are pretty much unavoidable in all forms: both physical and mental or a combination of any of them. How each one of us deals with these stresses; such as self-medicating and isolating, is what separates us from our families, loved ones and careers. (more…)
Your Wife Has Cancer, Now What?: What to Expect When the Unexpected Happens
by Carson Boss
When your wife is diagnosed with cancer, there is a lot of information to read and review. You get overwhelmed with pamphlets, books, and binders that discuss her type of cancer. There are support groups, hotlines and other organizations to assist her. But what about you? Written from the experienced perspective of someone who went through his wife’s cancer Your Wife Has Cancer, Now What? provides a practical overview of what you, as husband and best friend, need to know. Your Wife Has Cancer, Now What? includes information on how to overcome the shock and fear of diagnosis, how to talk to your family, choosing the right doctors, where and how to give support, the transition of normal household duties and how to manage those, the real costs of cancer both financial and emotional, how to continue and nurture your romance, how to manage your full-time job and other long-term issues that are critical to know and navigate.
Chemo-Therapist: How Cancer Cured a Marriage
by Mary Potter Kenyon
When Mary Potter Kenyon’s husband David was diagnosed with cancer in the summer of 2006 she searched libraries and bookstores for books on cancer and the caregiving experience. What she discovered was a plethora of technical and medically-oriented books or those written by a caregiver whose loved one had died, a scenario she refused to contemplate. While serving as David’s companion during Wednesday chemotherapy treatments, Mary began journaling about their experience as a couple and parents of young children as they navigated the labyrinth of cancer. It soon dawned on her that she was writing the very book she had searched for upon David’s diagnosis: one that goes beyond the cancer experience to give hope and inspiration to the reader. Chemo-Therapist: How Cancer Cured a Marriage is a moving testimonial of a relationship renewed by the shared experience of a life threatening illness.” Initially, after David’s diagnosis, I would cringe when I read books or articles by cancer survivors who stated that cancer had been a gift in their lives. How could all that David endured be viewed as a gift? The invasive surgery, the weeks of chemotherapy and radiation: a gift? Yet, after the cancer, David would often reach for my hand and say, “If it is cancer that is responsible for our new relationship, then it was all worth it.” And I’d reluctantly agree that cancer had been a gift in our lives. We’d both seen the other alternative: patients and survivors who had become bitter and angry, and neither one of us wanted to become that.
Refined By Fire: A Journey of Grief and Grace
by Mary Potter Kenyon
“Where is the handbook for widows?” Mary Kenyon lamented as she planned a funeral for the beloved husband whose triumph over cancer she chronicled in Chemo-Therapist: How Cancer Cured a Marriage. During the ensuing weeks, as she attempted to make sense of his untimely death, she filled two journals, blogged, and read the inspirational writings of others who had gone down the road of grief before her–authors like C.S. Lewis and Madeleine L’Engle. She eventually found herself studying grief and bereavement in her quest to unearth answers to alleviating the pain associated with profound loss. In the process, she discovered a strength and emotional reserve she didn’t know she had, along with an evolving faith that helped her face the impending loss of an eight-year-old grandson.
“In the midst of the darkness of loss, I found light. Admittedly, in those first weeks, it might have been but a single small spark I sensed deep inside of me, but that spark guided me in the twisted, dark journey of grief. As I stumbled over the roots of hopelessness and despair, that light grew to illuminate my path, a path I sometimes felt very alone on. At some point in the journey I’d turned around, and there was God. That is grace.”
Life Happens: How to Maintain Family Strength and Unity in the Face of Adversity
by Teresa Clark and Taralyn Clark
It happens to every family. Things are humming along smoothly when suddenly they realize that life is not just a bowl of cherries. An unlooked for event, crisis, or trial threatens to upset the balance of all they consider normal. How will they ever survive and how will they ever get things to return to normal? Is it even possible? What if constant change and adaptation is what “normal” really looks like? In Life Happens Taralyn and Teresa Clark explore life realities and provide much-needed information gained from decades of experience to survive and ultimately thrive in spite of life challenges.
by John Feal
Founder and President
Director of the Zadroga Bill (HR 847)
In slightly more than an hour eleven years ago, nearly three thousand lives were tragically cut far too short. More than three thousand families were instantly re-directed; mourning the loss of their loved ones while wondering how they would navigate their futures without them.
The reaches of September 11th went well past the East and Hudson Rivers. The same terribly historic hour also propelled our nation’s armed forces into battle in two separate countries, causing the loss of hundreds more of this country’s youth and future leaders. Today’s eighteen-year-old servicemen were merely seven-years-old when the fate of their service was determined.
During that same summer hour, thousands of firefighters, police officers, emergency medical technicians, correction officers and emergency personnel converged onto the World Trade Center site in order to save their fellow Americans, hoping their skills and training could save the life of even one person. Soon after, the Twin Towers collapsed. First Responders realized that they would not save their peers, but that their skills would be needed in an entirely different mission, recovery. They would be joined in this mission during the hours, days, weeks and months following the attacks by tens-of-thousands of their brothers and sisters in the construction trades, communication industry and volunteers. The goal of recovery was not limited to the recovery of the personal effects of those lost, but the recovery of this country from one of its darkest moments. Over the next year, the combined efforts of First Responders enabled families to find closure in the burials of their loved ones. They removed the debris from the World Trade Center Site and provided these services with an unmatched dignity, professionalism and heroism. (more…)
by Sydney Vickers
When I think of Peyton, I see his dancing blue eyes and dimples. I see him doing what he loved most – helping others be their best. I see him wearing his University of Miami football shirt and celebrating a win. I see us walking hand-in-hand exploring a new city. I see him on the golf course. I see him at the grill and reading his paper on the patio. I see him at my side, always at my side.
When I think of Peyton I try not to see the cancer that took him in 24 months. I try not to remember hearing the diagnosis of esophageal cancer and the subsequent rounds of chemo, radiation and brutal surgery. I try not to remember a stranger telling me that the cancer had spread to his bones and that he had six months to live. I try not to remember Peyton’s face when I told him the news. I try not to remember when we were told to call Hospice.
When I think of Peyton I want to always be grateful for his worry over me and the way he wrote lists of things for me to do after his death. I want to thank him for his little book called the AP Book (After Peyton) with names and phone numbers of plumbers, electricians – anyone I might need to help with the house, finances or life in general. I want Peyton to know how much I appreciate how hard he fought for life, celebrating our 28th anniversary just a week before he died. (more…)
“Out of the Ashes: Healing in the Afterloss” by Benjamin Allen is a chronicle of the author’s journey through the loss of his wife and two sons to the same devastating illness. Over the course of 13 years, his family died one by one, leaving Benjamin alone in The Afterloss. The world of pain and grief left him reeling, but he did find his footing. His journey to peace is told in raw, vulnerable words that will help others heal as well. ∞
by Maurice Turmel, PhD
1) You will feel better knowing you are not alone with this experience of grief as a result of losing a loved one. Many individuals have traveled this path successfully and, those of us who study these processes, have been hard at work creating the tools and strategies necessary to help you safely negotiate the recovery experience.
2) You will feel better as you become aware of how manageable the healing experience can be while you grow accustomed to using tools that will help you get in touch with your feelings. Once aware of what you are feeling, you will be encouraged you to express those feelings and see for yourself how your stress level will begin to recede. Strategies of denial, anger, withdrawal and repression will be abandoned as they should because you are now aware of what’s necessary to safely manage your recovery experience. (more…)
by Doctor Joel Brende
Editor’s Note: It has been stated many times that first responders have a kinship with Vietnam Veterans. Why? Because, like these Vets, they are asking – no, demanding! – help in coping with the horrific images, nightmares, and the other mental and emotional casualties of their professions. Lewis Epright, Sr., a Vietnam Veteran and firefighter, has asked me to share these twelve steps that he and others have found invaluable in coping with their traumas. Thank you, Lewis, for your service and your friendship.
Step One (Power)
Our first step is to accept the fact that we have become powerless to live meaningful lives. Even though we had the power to survive against the worst combat conditions, we must admit we have become powerless to win the battle against a new enemy—our memories, flashbacks, and combat instincts. Some of us have become powerless over the continuing wish to gain revenge over those sudden impulses to hurt those who cross us or unsuspectingly annoy us. We even hurt those who try to love us, making it impossible to love and care for our friends and family. So we isolate ourselves and cause others to avoid, dislike, or even hate us. Our attempts to live meaningful lives and fight this psychological and emotional hell which imprisons us seems to be in vain. We now find ourselves powerless to change it. (more…)
Memorial Pet Portraits from your Photos
by Emma Kaufmann
When you lose a pet you can feel overwhelmed with emptiness. There is that aching feeling at the center of your days. Something is missing - some essential part of you. For a long time you feel that loss. Sometimes it is hard for your friends to understand that a pet you loved so much is gone and that is why you feel lost without your pet companion.
I have talked to those who have lost a pet and know that they feel very alone with their grief. I tell them they need to reach out to friends and family – people who understand and will listen to them in their time of crisis.
I also tell people to surround themselves with laughter. Yes, this might seem odd to you if you have just lost a pet, but finding ways to laugh at yourself and to surround yourself with positive, funny people is one way to move forward from your loss. Laughter is the best medicine. (more…)
Addiction and Post Traumatic Stress: Avoiding a Crisis in Your Home, Workplace and Community
Presenter: Peggy Sweeney, The Sweeney Alliance
Depression, addiction, and post traumatic stress are today’s hot topics. National, state and local leaders scramble to find a “fix” for these problems, but are coming up short on results. Budgets are being stretched, medical costs are increasing, and family cohesiveness is being strained. The numbers of those most in need are growing at an astounding rate. Sadly, too many waiting for help are turning to suicide to cope. This workshop addresses these issues and provides valuable resources available to every person, including our community first responders – law enforcement officers, 911 dispatchers, firefighters, and emergency medical service personnel.
by Peggy Sweeney
The Sweeney Alliance
Grief is overwhelming. We confront grief whenever we experience a loss or a traumatic event. Divorce, loss of a job, a missing child, catastrophic illness, disabling injury, addiction, abuse, the aftermath of a fire or flood, post traumatic stress, caring for a loved one at the end of their life, and, of course, the death of a family member or friend are some examples of grief. Healing our grief is a life-altering and very personal experience. No two people will work through their grief experiences in the same way.
Because grief affects each one of us differently, I have included some resources here that may be of interest to you, especially in the early days, weeks, and months that you are in mourning. Be sure to search for articles on this blog under the heading Healthy Grieving for specific articles on this topic.
This is just a short list of recommended reading. For additional titles, you can view our current list of books in the Good Grief Books section. If you would like to recommend a book(s) you found helpful, please let me know. Include a brief synopsis and why it was beneficial for you. If possible, I will invite the author to share an article for one of our newsletters. firstname.lastname@example.org. (more…)