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
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 of a child. In her note Linda said that one of the mothers stated, “I’m done grieving,” which provoked Linda to ask us this two-part question: “Is it ever too soon to be done with grieving?” and “Are we ever really done grieving the death of our child?” We believe those questions and our response will shed valuable light on a very misunderstood aspect of grief and recovery.
In her note Linda said that one of the mothers stated, “I’m done grieving,” which provoked Linda to ask us this two-part question: “Is it ever too soon to be done with grieving?” and “Are we ever really done grieving the death of our child?”
We believe those questions and our response will shed valuable light on a very misunderstood aspect of grief and recovery.
Thanks for your note and questions.
We’re going to break your first question into two parts.
Part one: “Is it ever too soon to be done with grieving?
Grief is the normal and natural reaction to loss, and includes an incredibly wide array of human emotions. It’s also the most unique and individual of all human experiences based on our own personality, style, and information or misinformation about dealing with our feelings; and based on the one-of-a-kind relationship that we had with the person who died—or the person we were married to, in the case of a divorce.
And, as you will see below in our response to the second part, there are constant reminders of people who are no longer here, each of which may stimulate memories with emotions attached.
Grieving isn’t a time-based or even action-based event. It can get a little too intellectual to try to clearly define the words and ideas that relate to the emotions of grief. Our job is always to move people the critical 14 inches from their heads to their hearts. Incorrect or misstated language can keep people away from their emotional truths.
If we were talking to the lady who said, “I’m done grieving,” we’d probably determine in our conversation with her, that what she meant was that she was adapting to the painful unwanted reality of the death, and that the constant pain and tears, loss of focus, and other common reactions, had subsided. That adaptation though, wouldn’t necessarily mean that she was emotionally complete in her relationship with her child who died.
Part Two: “Are we ever really done grieving the death of our child?”
In order to answer your question, we have to modify it. In our Trainings and Workshops, we talk about the fact that we never use the phrase “get over” as it relates to someone important to us who has died, as that would imply that we could or would forget them.
Therefore we rephrase your question to ask, “Will you ever forget your child who died?” The obvious answer is NO!
Additionally we would ask, “Will you ever stop having feelings about your child who died and your relationship with her or him?” Again, NO!
Those last two points are obviously true when any important person to us dies, not just a child.
However, with the death of a child, there is a much greater awareness of the unrealized future that relates to what and who they would have become. Even years later, people who had a young child die will almost always be aware of children who are the age their child would have been now. When they see a group of kids that age they automatically remember their child and with that, often have some strong emotions. With the death of older children even when they are adults, we always have feelings about the things that never get to happen.
Some people erroneously believe that because they remember their child who died, and some of those memories come with sadness or other feelings attached, that indicates that maybe they are still emotionally incomplete. We don’t necessarily agree. We think you can miss someone and be sad just because they are no longer here, and because all that you had hoped would happen never came to pass.
From our hearts to yours,
© 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 2016 - 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 »
Memorial Day, 150 Years Later. 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.
October 2016Atlanta, GA -October 7-10, 2016
Bend, OR - October 7-10, 2016
Rochester, NY - October 7-10, 2016
Toronto, ON, Canada - October 14-17, 2016
Scottsdale, AZ - October 14-17, 2016
Sydney, NSW, Australia - October 15-18, 2016
Kansas City, KS - October 28-31, 2016
November 2016Reading, England - November 4-7, 2016
San Diego, CA - November 11-14, 2016
Nashville, TN - November 11-14, 2016
Denver, CO - November 11-14, 2016
Edmonton, AB, Canada - Nov 18-21, 2016
Los Angeles, CA - November 18-21, 2016
Princeton, NJ - November 18-21, 2016