“Because You Were There”

Letters to my late husband in the first year following his death
by Sally Dalzel

sally_1When my husband died I thought I was ready to face what was to come. He was many years older than me and he had experienced deteriorating health for the thirteen years leading up to his death.

He had suffered awfully in the last year of his life, determined to hang on to the life he loved so much and had lived so well, despite complex medical issues. We had struggled in the last two years with grossly inadequate community care and an appalling lack of communication between the various services involved. More than sixteen emergency ambulance admissions for acute conditions in an eighteen month period provide some indication of how deficient community and health care cooperation had been in his case. By the end we were both exhausted.

Despite this he had an indomitable will to live and determination to enjoy life. In addition to his suffering, for which on many occasions I could do nothing, one of the hardest things to witness was the loss of dignity and interest in who he was by many of the professionals involved in his care. He simply became another old man with a series of conditions. Continue reading “Because You Were There”


Nina BinghamOnce the Storm is Over: From Grieving to Healing after the Suicide of my Daughter
by Nina Bingham

Raw and honest, the author shares her painful past: an abusive alcoholic father, a failed marriage, the rejection she suffered after she came out as a lesbian, and her own brush with suicide. What could have been a story mired in self-pity and misery, ultimately is a story of hope. Nina’s compelling life journey shows how pain and loss can be transformed into strength and purpose. This book is not only for survivors but for anyone facing depression with suicidal tendencies.

Study Request: How People Respond During a Period of Bereavement

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Karin Wang; I am a master student in clinical psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University. We are conducting a research project to understand how people respond during a period of bereavement. I am writing to ask whether you might be willing to share the study information with members of your grief support groups/subscribed populations who have had a loss of a loved one (see information and hyperlink below). The study is completely anonymous and confidential and can be easily completed from home in around 20 minutes.

The project is supervised by Dr. George A. Bonanno at Columbia University, who has been conducting research on bereavement for over 20 years. The questionnaires have all been validated by prior research, and there is no known risk associated with taking the questionnaire. The study is not intended as a bereavement intervention nor would it interfere with any therapeutic processes. Rather, it will contribute to the knowledge of the field, in the hope that a better understanding of how people react to loss can further our ability to help those who suffer the most. Not everyone grieves in the same way and some people suffer from prolonged grief reactions that impact their overall functioning for years; however, at present little is known about the emotional deficits that accompany prolonged grief reactions.

The link to the study is:

Please let me know if you have any questions, and thank you for your cooperation!

Karin Tong Wang, M.Phil.
Master Student, Clinical Psychology
Teachers College, Columbia University

Twenty Years

by Dorothy Gillon

Editor’s Note: I met Dorothy, Charlie and their children in 1984 when our family relocated to Martin, TN. From the very beginning, I knew that the Gillons were a special family; warm, loving and caring. Although many miles separate Dorothy and I today, I am honored to share her story with you. Many hugs, my dear friend.

In MemoryWhen Peggy asked me to consider writing an article for her newsletter, I thought what do I have to say about grief that would be helpful to others. But after thinking about it for a while, I thought I have a lot to say about grief and how our family got through it—actually still getting through it. So bear with me as I give you some background about our life.

Charlie and I were married on August 13, 1972. We had a pretty wonderful marriage, easy most of the time, even with our moves to Micronesia; Carbondale, Illinois; Philadelphia, Mississippi (where our son Jamie was born in 1976) and finally to Martin, Tennessee (where our daughter Kathleen was born on our anniversary). We experienced loss along the way with both of our fathers dying very early in our life together and my Nana Dora a little later. We held each other when we cried and remembered our loved ones very often by reminiscing with stories. Continue reading Twenty Years

Your Wife Has Cancer, Now What?

by Carson Boss

Carson and Cindy
Carson and Cindy

Upon my wife, Cindy’s, diagnosis of breast cancer in early 2011, I began to reach out to other husbands I knew whose wife had gone through cancer. I started writing down the counsel they gave me, and other bits of information I gleaned from my own research and pamphlets we received early on. It dawned on me after I had accumulated about 40 pages of notes and directions that it would have been nice to have been given a book dealing with all of that information at our very first appointment. Continue reading Your Wife Has Cancer, Now What?

A Remembrance To My Friend

by Sandy Fox

Sandy Fox
Sandy Fox

You always think your story of your child’s death is the worst…until you read about the next child or children who died for whatever reason, whatever age. You hear about them through the Internet, through the TV and through books. Whether it is an accident, an illness or some other cause of death, there is always a story, unparalleled in its riveting emotions.

One story recently on the news shocked me. Only when I read the family name in the newspaper did I realize it was my personal friend’s family. I was shocked and saddened to learn the details, none of which are important to this blog. What is important is that any loss in a family, no matter who, how many or under what circumstances is devastating. I dedicate my column today to my friend and her husband and hope that words of comfort from other friends and relatives will aid in the healing process. Continue reading A Remembrance To My Friend

Motherless Daughter – A Tribute to My Best Friend

by Martha King
Guiding Hearts with Hope

Martha King
Martha King

I was in South America in my senior year, preparing for finals and heading to college to be a surgeon. My mother was 37, and I was seventeen. My father was a pharmacist at the time, but working on a plan for all of us to visit North America after I graduated. My mother was very devastated with the idea. She questioned my father, “How can I be in two places at once (the North and the South)?” God had a plan from the beginning. She was pregnant at that time, and the baby was not due for another month. All the paperwork was completed a year in advance for our trip.

Saturday, May 28, 1977, 9:00AM. My mother gave birth to a healthy girl, her 6th child at home. There was a lot of excitement and happiness, but that was about to change. The private midwife said, “We have trouble!” My mother developed a headache right after the labor and started going into convulsions, her body became toxic, and she went into a coma. I remember very clearly, a few minutes before, the way she reached for my hand and said to my father, “I am scared, please don’t let me die”. We called for an ambulance and they took her, it was the last time I saw my mother alive. Each of her children, ranging in age from 17 to one day old, and my father, were left with little idea of how to manage the grief. Continue reading Motherless Daughter – A Tribute to My Best Friend

Alive on Canvas®–A New Way to Share the Memory of Your Loved One

by Gina Klawitter
Fine Artist Specialized in Serving Bereavement

Gina KlawitterWhat should families do with a deceased loved one’s personal belongings? This situation is hard to contemplate. Meaningful, memorable possessions usually end up stored in a basement or drawer, or displayed in a lifeless shadow box.

Now, there’s a poignant way for families to share and enjoy such cherished items. Artist Gina Klawitter creates life-like, celebratory keepsake portraits featuring her subjects’ personal clothing and belongings. From christening gowns to sports uniforms and play outfits, Gina artfully forms clothing and other items into custom collage paintings. She calls her unique collage art, Alive on Canvas®. Gina also offers a how-to book, Commemorate, Celebrate! for those who want to create their piece as a means of hands-on healing. (No art or craft skills required.) Continue reading Alive on Canvas®–A New Way to Share the Memory of Your Loved One