Thank God It’s Not Me

Posted on Jan 6, 2019 in General Grief

On Being this week features Pauline Boss, professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota. She is the author of Loss, Trauma, and Resilience: Therapeutic Work with Ambiguous LossLoving Someone Who Has Dementia, and Ambiguous Loss.

You can read the transcript or listen to Krista Tippett and Pauline on the podcast. I urge you to do one or the other. It will help you better understand yourself, and when isn’t that a good thing?

>Read Transcript

On Being: The Myth of Closure

There is no such thing as closure. In fact, Pauline Boss says, the idea of closure leads us astray. It’s a myth we need to put aside, like the idea we’ve accepted that grief has five linear stages and we come out the other side done with it. She coined the term “ambiguous loss,” creating a new field in family therapy and psychology. She has wisdom for the complicated griefs and losses in all of our lives and for how we best approach the losses of others.

Read More

We Are Not Who You Think

Posted on Oct 7, 2018 in General Grief

Aksel Holland, age 17, died on April 10, 2018. Everyone who knew Aksel talks about how warm, loving, and intelligent he was.

His poem sets the bar for all of us.

How it really is

It’s not tragic
It’s not your disease to pity
It’s not something for you to feel lucky
that you don’t have to deal with

It’s an illness. disgusting
It takes people and changes them
Ugly shadows of what they could have been
had their mind not revolted

You sing praises for those who can function
Those who shower, work, talk
And condemn the ones who need help the most
“Look at that crazy homeless man”

If I yell at the air, you draw back
If she bleeds from her arms you recoil. gross.
If he can’t get out of bed, he’s lazy
Illness is only valid when it’s ‘normal’

The only tragedy you are allowed to mourn
the only moment not reserved for us
is the loss of a soul, a life
that couldn’t stay above the current

Do not look at me with pity
do not look at me with disdain
I am just as human, just as real
as you, and I need your help

I am not the storm
We are not who you think
We are fighters, warriors against everything
that you refuse to see


Read More

Eric Rhoads’s Sunday Coffee: When Moments Matter

Posted on Mar 4, 2018 in Facing One's Own Death, General Grief

I have a passion for art so every Sunday I look forward to reading Eric Rhoads’s blog, Sunday Coffee. Eric is a painter, who was once in radio and now owns the publishing company that markets Fine Art Connoisseur and PleinAir Magazines.

Recently Eric wrote about his trip to Portland to see Sean, a friend who had suffered a stroke. As he prepares for his trip, he moves through all of the questions we all ask ourselves when we know we are going to face a person who has little time to live.

Here are the highlights of Eric’s post, When Moments Matter.

Read More

The Thing about Sheryl Sandberg

Posted on Jan 14, 2018 in Book Testimonials, General Grief

Copyright by World Economic Forum.
Photo by Moritz Hager

I think there might be something special about Sheryl Sandberg. More than just the fact that she presents well and functions on little sleep.

If you don’t know Sheryl, she is COO of Facebook, known for her cutting edge book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, and having the unfortunate first hand life-doesn’t-behave-as-expected experience of becoming a young widow. With the death of Dave, she deserved privacy, but was given little. Subsequently she co-authored Option B with Adam Grant, addressing how to be resilient in face of loss.

If you don’t remember her from the above, possibly you will remember her recently fielding questions before a Congressional hearing regarding Facebook’s responsibility in Russian interference in the last presidential election. She was no fool: she didn’t serve FB up on a platter, and yet she openly addressed Facebook’s responsibility to society.

All of it impressive.

But that’s not what I am talking about when I say I think there is something special about Sheryl Sandberg.

Read More

The Holiday Letter

Posted on Dec 20, 2017 in General Grief, Holidays

The other side of the coin: recently posted What’’s article about writing a holiday card to someone who is grieving. Today we approach the dilemma from the griever’s point of view.

Carolyn Parr offers a simple outline and a very good reason why we should write others when we are struggling: “Your own truth-telling may free others to face their own situation with courage.”

Grief taught me to write the perfect holiday letter

Carolyn Miller Parr

In October of 2015 the man who had been my husband for fifty-six years died. December found me still numb with grief. As my children and I struggled to navigate the season without a compass, we were feeling a lot of things. Joy wasn’t one of them. If it was there, it was buried under a thick layer of pain.

It was time to write the annual holiday letter Jerry and I had always written together, but I felt lost. Should I just skip it and leave friends wondering whether they’d been abandoned? Should I spill tears all over the page? Should I put on a happy face to hide the pain?

Read More