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

Holiday blues: Four Mistakes We Make

Posted on Dec 17, 2017 in General Grief, Holidays

Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant, Opinion contributors –  Dec. 1, 2017

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg says she hopes her new book on grief will teach readers how to help others after a tragedy. USA TODAY

If you have a loved one who’s suffering, “Happy holidays!” can feel like a cruel joke. The most wonderful time of the year? Not for everyone.

We’ve all been there: Someone we know is suffering, and we’re not sure what to do. In Hilary Weisfeld’s case, her daughter’s teacher had a 4-year-old girl with leukemia who was admitted to the hospital. They weren’t close friends; Hilary had never met the little girl.

Hilary went to a toy store, bought a stuffed animal, and sent an email: “I’m coming to the hospital with a package for your daughter. I don’t want to invade your privacy or hers. If you don’t feel like coming down I’ll leave it at the front desk. No pressure.” The teacher replied immediately, inviting her up. As the girl unwrapped her new toy, the teacher thanked Hilary with tears in her eyes.

Although we all want to support others through hardship, knowing how to do that isn’t always intuitive. Every bookstore has a self-help section — but sometimes what we really need is a “help others” section.

The holidays are supposed to be a time of celebration — but if you’re dealing with illness, divorce, incarceration or grief, that festive spirit can feel like salt being poured on a wound. Holidays can make you painfully aware of the love, liberty or life you’ve lost.

If you have a loved one who’s suffering, phrases you’ve used a thousand times without a second thought —“Happy holidays! Season’s greetings!” — can feel like a cruel joke. The most wonderful time of the year? Not for everyone.

Many people are afraid to acknowledge others’ pain: They don’t want to bring it up. Only after Sheryl’s husband Dave died suddenly did we realize how ridiculous that is. You can’t remind her Dave is gone. She’s aware of that every day.

The elephant is always there. The best thing you can do is speak up instead of saying silent. But knowing what to say can be as hard as finding the courage to say something. For most of our lives, we’ve made four big mistakes.

Read More

Should I Send A Holiday Card?

Posted on Dec 10, 2017 in General Grief, Holidays

So you are one of those wonderful people who still sends snail mail holiday greetings. Your cards and list are in front of you, your pen is in hand, and stamps are at your side. Everything is going swimmingly until you come upon a person/couple on your list who has had a loved one die during the past year. Should you send them a card, you wonder?

Good question, and one I have never addressed on 

Read More

Our Holiday Series

Posted on Dec 3, 2017 in Holidays

Again, we are running our holidays series for readers who are newly bereaved. Our hearts are with those of you, as well as those who still struggle to get through the season without a significant loved one.

Holidays (in no particular order):

If you liked this post, please forward! Thanks!

Vicki Panagotacos PhD, FT is a grief counselor and life transition coach.  She writes for her blog,, is founder of, and author of Gaining Traction: Starting Over After the Death of a Life Partner.
Subscribe to Blog
Read More