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
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 incomplete when someone important to you dies. Medical, psychological, societal and family experts all approach the issue from different perspectives.
It is not uncommon for us to hear of people being told by a mental health professional, "It's too soon to begin your grief work, you're not ready yet." We grit our teeth every time we hear that comment. Imagine that you have fallen down and gashed your leg and that blood is gushing from the wound. Then imagine someone walking by and saying: "It's too soon, you’re not ready for medical attention yet."
What if circumstances and events have broken your heart? Imagine that you are experiencing the massive and conflicting emotions caused by the death of someone important to you. Then imagine a friend, or worse, a professional, saying to you: "It's too soon, you’re not ready for emotional attention yet."
You Can Begin Recovery Actions Immediately
Most grieving people need and want to talk about "what happened" and about their relationship with the person who died. The time they most need and want to talk about it is in the days and weeks immediately following the death. It preoccupies them, just as the person with the gashed leg is preoccupied with their accident, the pain, and the need for medical help. Those who do not want to talk about it will let you know.
When a person learns of the death of someone important to them, an almost automatic review process begins. In reviewing the relationship, the grieving person remembers many events that occurred over the length of the relationship. Some of the events are happy and produce fond memories, some are unhappy and produce sad memories.
During this automatic review, grievers usually discover some things they wish they'd had an opportunity to say or do, things they wish had ended "differently, better, or more." It is those unsaid and undone things which need to be completed, even though that cannot be done directly with the person who died. The review is most intense and most accurate in the time immediately following the death. It is the time when we are most focused on the person who died and our relationship with them. We will rarely have another opportunity to remember the relationship with such detail, clarity and emotional intensity. As soon as you become aware of the review process going on inside your head and your heart, it is time to begin the actions of Grief Recovery.
Even if your loss occurred many years ago, do not despair, those actions can help you recapture the review that took place and may have been repeating itself over and over. You will be able to complete what the death left emotionally unfinished for you.
A note about LESS THAN LOVED ONES
You may have noticed that we repeatedly say “death of someone important to you,” rather than the more common phrase “death of a loved one.” In fact we’ve said it three times in this article. Without diminishing any reader’s relationship with someone who has died, we know that an awful lot of people are affected by the death of someone who might better be called a “less than loved one.”
We know that many people are trapped by the phrase “loved one” when it doesn’t fit the relationship they had with the person who died. This is especially true when the person who died was a family member or other who “should” have been a loved one. The fact that a relationship was not warm and fuzzy does not mean that the surviving person is not a griever. Amongst other things, they mourn the fact that what should have been a positive relationship, wasn’t. They mourn the fact that the death robs them of the opportunity to resolve the differences they had with the person who died.
The review that follows the death of a "less than loved one" is the same process and requires the same actions you would take when a loved one dies, with the obvious difference that there may be many more negative aspects to the relationship than positive ones. The actions of Grief Recovery are spelled out in detail in The Grief Recovery Handbook, which is available at most libraries and book stores.
© 2014 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.
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 of the end-of-year Holidays that can have on their friends who've recently 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 2013 - 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.
December 2014Seattle, WA - Dec 5-8, 2014
Dallas, TX - Dec 5-8, 2014
Toronto, ON, Canada - Dec 5-8, 2014
Jacksonville, FL - Dec 5-8, 2014
Princeton, NJ - Dec 5-8, 2014
January 2015Phoenix, AZ - Jan 16-19, 2015
Columbus, OH - Jan 16-19, 2015
Mexico City, D.F., Mexico - Jan 23-25, 2015
Monterrey, N.L., Mexico - Jan 23-26, 2015
Atlanta, GA - Jan 23-26, 2015
Bend, OR - Jan 23-26, 2015
Los Angeles, CA - Jan 30-Feb 2, 2015