Not Every Dead Person Was Loved

Posted on May 14, 2017 in Fresh Grief, General Grief

What if your deceased parent was hell on wheels behind closed doors, and God’s gift to the outside world when they were alive?  What if they were consistently uncompromising, selfish, and neglectful… possibly cruel and abusive to you?

How do you cope with the death of a parent who was a hypocrite and/or a bad parent?

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Losing a Dog Can Be Harder

Posted on Mar 25, 2017 in Fresh Grief, General Grief, Pet Loss

I recently read an article (link below) entitled “Why Losing a Dog Can Be Harder than Losing a Relative.”

If you can’t understand the phenomenon, you likely haven’t experienced 15-18 years of sweet, eager, unconditional love from a pet. Nor have you experienced your own sweet, eager, unconditional love for your pet.

Lost and found

I have had clients who have deeply grieved the death of a spouse, but admit that losing their beloved dog was tougher experience to tolerate. It is not surprising as we aren’t often loved without expectation, i.e., without someone wanting us to look, act and think a certain way.

On the other hand, I have watched in amazement as a struggling bereaved individual comes alive and starts to rebuild their life – after getting a new pet.

Honor the loss

So if a family member, friend or co-worker is grieving the death of a pet, bite your tongue before you say “it’s just a dog, for heaven’s sake.”

Enjoy the article and the latest research on our relationship to our pets!

>read article



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Someone Died 4 – End of Life Rituals

Posted on Sep 4, 2016 in Fresh Grief, General Grief

(Excerpt from coming book, Help! Someone Died!)

Ancient Egypt: Tomb of Ramos - Funeral Procession

Ancient Egypt: Tomb of Ramos – Funeral Procession

Evidence of the desire to reunite a decedent’s soul with their ancestors in the spirit world goes back to Neanderthal man. This ceremonial quest for immortality continued, for the most part, to be the norm up to and into our contemporary western funerals. *

Until the 1960’s.

The 1960’s Revolution

The 60’s brought revolutionary change to every facet of society as young people disrupted and deconstructed the socio/political process and pulled away from organized religion.

Today, our American culture continues to shift from the sacred to a secular end-of-life service, except for active Catholics, High Episcopalians, Muslims and members of the Orthodox faiths.

The ever-evolving end-of-life practices

  • Obituaries: In the past a short obituary ran in the local newspaper giving the deceased’s name, date and cause of death, and time and place for the visitation and funeral service. Now, if an obituary is published in a local paper or online, the primary focus in on the deceased’s life. The cause of death is often omitted, and service details may or may not be listed.
  • Visitation: In the past, one or two evenings were set aside prior to the funeral so friends could gather at the funeral home and view the deceased in an open casket. (The exception: Jewish tradition required burial within 24 hours of death.) Now visitations are less common because younger generations consider an open casket barbaric.
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Understanding the Black Experience?

Posted on Jul 27, 2016 in Fresh Grief, General Grief


Sometimes a person writes of their experience of deep grief—from a place so outside of my own—that I post their entire article.

Today’s post is one of those times.

I am not black, and I can’t authentically write about the black experience. Nikole-Hannah-Jones is and she can.

Nikole’s article does not report an opinion; she invites you into her experience. Remember, trauma is not an event, it is an experience.

And so I thank Nikole, a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine and 2016 Peabody Award winner, for writing The Grief White American’s Can’t Share.

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Help! Someone Died 3 – What To Do Cont.

Posted on Jun 11, 2016 in Fresh Grief, General Grief


(Excerpt from book due to be published in late 2016)

Here are some suggested “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for speaking to, and being around, the bereaved family.  Don’t be overwhelmed by the length of the list and don’t let what you read paralyze you to the point of being speechless. My goal is arm you with a bit of knowledge so you feel more comfortable.

Hopefully you will accept that

  • words can’t comfort the bereaved, but your presence can;
  • the less said, the better; and
  • saying something wrong is better than saying nothing at all.

List of comments that will be appreciated.

  • “I am so sorry for your loss.” (This can precede and follow most of the following.)
  • “I wish I had the right words, but I don’t. Just know that I care.”
  • “I don’t know what to say. I wish I had the right words to comfort you.”
  • “You and your loved ones (family) are in my thoughts and prayers.
  • “Your (parent, sibling, child) was always so nice to me. One of my favorite memories is …”
  • “She/he will be missed by so many people.”
  • “I can’t imagine what you’re going through.”
  • “I can’t imagine how tough this must be for you.”
  • “We all need help at times. I will call next week to find out how I can help you.”
  • “You can count on me in the coming months.”
  • “I’m your friend—and I’m here for you.”

Follow any of the above with “I care about you.” You matter to me,” or  “I love you” when it is appropriate.

A list of comments best left unsaid

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Help! Someone Died 2 – What to Do

Posted on Jun 4, 2016 in Fresh Grief, General Grief


(Excerpt from book due to be published in late 2016)

What to do upon hearing of a death? (continued)

Our last blog post was too long for a quick read so we split it up. Here is the second installment.  If you haven’t read the first installment  of What to do upon hearing of a death? or want to refresh your memory,  click here.

What food is best to take to the bereaved family immediately following a death?

There are likely to be a lot of people visiting  and/or staying with the bereaved immediately after a family death, and people have to eat!

Often the family ends up with too many casseroles and not enough staples. Keep in mind that practical and tasty is often better than a gourmet spread. It is also a good idea to include freezer wrap or a freezer container for cooked food so it can be easily frozen and brought out a few days later.   If you are using your own kitchen/dinnerware, be sure to put your name on the bottom.

The following is a variety of suggestions.  Remember you are trying to help, not impress.

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