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 4th of July—Another Reminder of Those Who Are No Longer Here
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The Boston Marathon Bombing, The Aftermath: Loss of Life, Loss of Safety, Loss of Trust, and Loss of Innocence
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On Crying—Part Two
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On Crying—Part One
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Am I Going Crazy?—An all-too frequent question from grievers.
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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!
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BECAUSE WE ARE THE FAMILY OF HUMANKIND
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Am I Paranoid, Or Are People Really Avoiding Me?
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Valentine’s Day—For Many, The Most Painful Holiday
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Is It Ever Too Soon To Recover?
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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
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I’m Fine And Other Lies!!!
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Normal and Natural reactions to the death of someone important to you.
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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.
July 2014Atlanta, GA - July 11-14, 2014
Phoenix, AZ - July 18-21, 2014
Chicago, IL - July 18-21, 2014
Los Angeles, CA - July 25-28, 2014
Toronto, ON - July 25-28, 2014
August 2014Omaha, NE - Aug 8-11, 2014
Singapore - Aug 11-14, 2014
New York, NY - Aug 15-18, 2014
Houston, TX - Aug 22-25, 2014
Tampa, FL - Aug 22-25, 2014