John W. James
Founder of The Grief Recovery Institute®
Co-Author of The Grief Recovery
Handbook & When Children Grieve
Co-Author of The Grief Recovery
Handbook & When Children Grieve
Where were you when I needed you?
The saddest question we ever hear is, "Where were you when I needed you?"
That's what people ask when they find out what we do in helping grievers. We're presenting helpful and accurate information on this site, at the time you need it most, with the hope that you'll never need to ask that question.
It's an honor and a sad privilege to be addressing you, knowing that each of you has recently experienced the death of someone important to you. We also know some of you are reading this because of your care and concern for someone who is confronted by the death of someone important in their life.
We bring our personal experience in dealing with the deaths of people who were important to us, and our professional know-how in helping grievers for more than 30 years. We'll help you distinguish between the "raw grief" that is your normal and natural reaction to the death, and the equally normal "unresolved grief" that relates to the unfinished emotions that are part of the physical ending of all relationships.
A basic reality for most grieving people is difficulty concentrating or focusing. With that in mind, we asked Tributes.com to print our articles in a large type font to make them easier to read. Sharing our concern for grieving people, they agreed.
From our hearts to yours,
John & Russell
Articles & Media
Newtown, Connecticut—Our Grief, Because We Are The Family Of Humankind
Certain events have the power to propel us into an emotional numbness, as if a hidden thermostat inside our hearts shuts us off. The pain is too much to bear.
On Sunday, December 26, 2004, we bore witness to such an event. The recorded sights and sounds of the Indian Ocean Tsunami entered our consciousness on the all-too-graphic wings of televised news reports. As with the repeated images of the World Trade Towers collapsing to earth, we were left with feelings that seemed impossible to accommodate.
Those two paragraphs were the opening of an article we wrote in the aftermath of the tsunami that left 230,000 dead in its wake. The title of the article was because We Are The Family Of Humankind.
On Friday, December 14th, 2012, another shock wave hit us with the news from Newtown, Connecticut. Though the number of people who died is radically different from the tsunami, the preciousness of each life lost hits home with exponential force, regardless of their ages. Once more we must lead with, Because We Are The Family Of Humankind.
We’ve used that title or subtitle many times—too many times now. We also used it in describing our response 9/11, to the Columbia Space Shuttle Disaster, and the back-to-back Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the devastation they wrought.
In each of those events, we wrote about the fact that most of us never knew any of the victims of those tragedies, whether they were caused by nature at its most violent, man at his worst, or in the case of the Shuttle, pure accident. Even though we may not have known anyone who died in those events, we were all dramatically, emotionally affected. Because we are all children of someone. Some of us are brothers or sisters; husbands or wives. We are family. We are friends. And every relationship we have is precious.
When we hear tragic news, we naturally think about what we might be feeling if it were one or more of our people who were taken from us. And if we’re not directly involved, our hearts go to the people who’ve been in our lives, but are no longer here.
We write the same headline today Because We Are Still The Family Of Humankind.
The Holiday Season Collides with Grief
The travesty of Newtown puts grief in the forefront of our hearts and minds. There are many families who will sit down to holiday dinner tables this year very much aware of someone missing, someone who has always been there, who died during the past year.
For others it will be the first holiday table after a divorce, and though their feelings are caused by a different loss, their emotions are none-the-less powerful.
Some people will want to skip that holiday dinner, fearful of the feelings they know will surface. We hope they don’t stay away. We hope they not only come to the dinner, but that they talk openly about missing the person who’s gone.
Tears and Laughter and Stories Go Together
My mother died nineteen years ago the day before Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving day, I was on a plane flying to Florida, still shocked at my mother’s sudden death. In the daze my family was in, with brothers, sisters, and grandkids arriving from all over the country at all hours, we didn’t have a formal Thanksgiving dinner that year.
The next year was the first holiday gathering for me after my mother had died. We were at a friend’s house with about 20 people we knew. When we all sat down at the table, I took a liberty and stood up and offered the first toast. With tears in my eyes, and a crack in my voice, I toasted my mom—and everyone else who was missing.
Most of the people at that table had never met my mom, but one after the other, everybody stood up and toasted someone from their life. And there were tears, and there was laughter, and there were stories. And nobody was forgotten. It’s sad enough when those we love are no longer physically here. It’s even sadder when we don’t talk about them.
It is now a tradition that no matter where we are, I make the first toast and start the emotional ball rolling—Because We Are All Part Of The Family of Humankind.
© 2016 Russell P. Friedman, John W. James and The Grief Recovery Institute®. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint this and other articles please contact The Grief Recovery Institute at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone, 800-334-7606.
Two First Ladies — No Feelings, Please!
Preamble: On March 6, 2016, former First Lady Nancy Reagan died. In honor of her life, we thought we'd show how human emotions are often distorted in Read More »
Deaths of Celine Dion’s Husband and Brother Open Questions on Grief
The recent death of Celine Dion’s husband, followed a few days later by the death of her brother, opens questions about how grievers cope. By Read More »
Two Year Tragiversary of the Boston Marathon Bombings
Wednesday, April 15th, 2015 marks the second “tragiversary” of the Boston Marathon Bombings which killed three innocent people and injured 254 Read More »
The Art of Condolence
When an acquaintance has lost a loved one, it can be difficult to know what to say or do. Here’s some guidance on offering sympathy with grace. Read More »
The 4th of July—Another Reminder of Those Who Are No Longer Here
The common bond that connects all holiday celebrations is that they tend to be family-oriented events. Whether the holiday commemorates religious Read More »
The Boston Marathon Bombing, The Aftermath: Loss of Life, Loss of Safety, Loss of Trust, and Loss of Innocence
April 15, 2013, the date of the Boston Marathon bombing, joins the list of dates we’d rather not remember, but we can’t forget. It takes its sad Read More »
Post-Holiday, Grief-Related Blues!
Many people are rightfully concerned about the powerful impact the end-of-year Holidays can have on their friends who've recently experienced the Read More »
In the wake of the recent deaths of Robin Williams and Joan Rivers, this preiviously published article has good advice for all.
Today I feel compelled to write about a personal loss, that just happens to be one of the national obituaries currently featured on the home page of Read More »
Newtown, Connecticut—Our Grief, Because We Are The Family Of Humankind
Certain events have the power to propel us into an emotional numbness, as if a hidden thermostat inside our hearts shuts us off. The pain is too much Read More »
Veterans Day—Lest We Forget
In its day, World War One was called "The War to End All Wars." Sadly, it wasn't. WW I officially ended on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day Read More »
Dealing with Grief During the Holidays
Dealing with Grief During the Holidays While there are other critical dates and times that affect grieving people, the holiday season is the biggest Read More »
We Never Forget The Important People In Our Lives.
We recently received a note from a woman named Linda, who had a child die, and who interacts with other parents who’ve also experienced the death Read More »
On Crying—Part Two
In Crying—Part One, we focused on the idea that it can be dangerous and counterproductive to attach our personal ideas and beliefs to how other Read More »
On Crying—Part One
Almost everyone has some questions and confusion about crying. How much crying is enough? If I start crying, will I be able to stop? Do I have to Read More »
9/11: The Aftermath, Loss of Life, Loss of Safety, Loss of Trust, and Loss of Innocence
By Russell FriedmanSeptember 11, 2001 now lives in our language in the same emotional way as December 7, 1941 and November 22, 1963. Nearly everyone Read More »
Am I Going Crazy?—An all-too frequent question from grievers.
“Since my mother’s death, I’ve had the experience of being in one room, deciding to go to another room to do something, and when I get there, I Read More »
Father’s Day 2015 - My Dad, Babe Ruth, and the Ball That’s Still in Orbit
In the kind of emotional reviews our minds and hearts make on chronicling days like Father’s Day, we often discover a level of appreciation that Read More »
What a Difference a Day Makes—Lest We Forget!
Memorial Day as we know it today began as Decoration Day in 1866, in upstate New York, after the cessation of the Civil War. First conceived as an Read More »
Mother’s Day! Remind Me—Remind Me Not—Remind Me
In mid-April there are two things you can count on in the United States. One is the due date for filing your tax return. The other is the arrival of Read More »
BECAUSE WE ARE THE FAMILY OF HUMANKIND
BECAUSE WE ARE THE FAMILY OF HUMANKIND [March 11, 2011]At 11:15 PM on March 10th, 2011, my heart was burning and my stomach was churning. I was Read More »
Am I Paranoid, Or Are People Really Avoiding Me?
The simple answer to the question posed in the title of this article is, “No, you’re not paranoid, people really may be avoiding you.” Even Read More »
Valentine’s Day—For Many, The Most Painful Holiday
The traditional Holiday Season begins around Halloween, continues through Thanksgiving, crests with Christmas and Hanukkah, and ends with New Read More »
Our Reaction to The Tucson Tragedy – Because We Are the Family of Humankind!
Within a two year span, from February 1, 2003 to December 26, 2004, we used the title “Because We Are the Family of Humankind!” for articles we Read More »
Uh-oh, it’s that time again. Grief and the holidays
Many Grievers Wish They Could Skip The Holidays And Jump From Late October To Mid-January The holidays are approaching. A joyous time. A festive time Read More »
Stages of Grief: Are There Actual Stages Of Grief?
Is there any truth behind the idea that grief and loss recovery comes in stages?We are often asked if there are actual stages of grief or grieving. Read More »
Is It Ever Too Soon To Recover?
Conflicting opinions from a wide variety of sources confuse the question of when to begin a process of completing what was left emotionally Read More »
Why Won’t Anyone Let Me Feel Sad?
If we were forced to quantify the problems grieving people encounter, there’s no doubt the number one offense they must confront is being told that Read More »
Six Major Myths – The Short Version
There are six major myths about grief that are so close to universal that nearly everyone can relate to them. This is true not only for those of us Read More »
Do I Have to Cry To Grieve?
"My father died recently. I have been very sad, but I have not cried. Do I have to cry to grieve?"That is a question we get all the time from people Read More »
When Your Heart Is Broken, Your Head Doesn’t Work Right And Your Spirit May Not Soar
For most people, the immediate response to the death of someone important to them is a sense of numbness. After that initial numbness wears off, the Read More »
If I Start Crying Will I Be Able To Stop?
Grieving people sometimes hold back their tears based on the fear that if they start crying, they won’t be able to stop. To the best of our Read More »
Time Doesn't Heal - Actions Do
I have heard that it takes two years to get over the death of a loved one, five years to get over the death of a parent, and you never get over the Read More »
I’m Fine And Other Lies!!!
Approximately 20% of your ability to communicate is verbal, leaving about 80% as non-verbal. Non-verbal communication includes tone of voice as well Read More »
Normal and Natural reactions to the death of someone important to you.
Grief is the wide range of normal and natural reactions to the death of someone important to you. The seven most common reactions are: Read More »
If you or someone important to you wants help with grief: Look for a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist℠ in your community. The Grief Recovery Institute ® trains and mentors Certified Grief Recovery Specialists℠ throughout the United States & Canada.
Workshops & Training Schedule
The Grief Recovery Institute ® offers Certification Training programs for those who wish to help grievers.
May 2016Dallas, TX - May 13-16, 2016
Princeton, NJ - May 13-16, 2016
Seattle, WA - May 20-23, 2016
Los Angeles, CA - May 20-23, 2016
Regina, SK Canada - May 20-23, 2016
June 2016Pittsburgh, PA - June 3-6, 2016
Birmingham, AL - June 10-13, 2016
Boston, MA - June 10-13, 2016
San Francisco, CA - June 24-27, 2016
St. Louis, MO - June 24-27, 2016
Toronto, ON Canada - June 24-27, 2016