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
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 homage to those who had given their lives, it soon evolved to also honor those who had survived. Within two years it was renamed Memorial Day, and over time came to symbolize our community need to stay ever mindful of those who had sacrificed their lives for our freedoms. Although the official birth of this annual event was in the North, the Southern states had parallel ceremonies, which were eventually joined as the national holiday we commemorate every year.
A tremendous amount has transpired in the intervening 146 years.
For millions of us, September 11, 2001, and subsequent events signaled the end of our metaphorical Disneyland. The fantasy that all is okay in our world has given way to the terrifying survival reality that is a daily diet for people in many corners of the globe. Sadly, we must face up to that reality.
With all of this going on, the need for a Memorial Day is as important as ever.
Since 9/11, we have been forced to re-examine how we live our daily lives, how we travel, and how we observe the normal events that swirl around our public movements. And with the death of Osama Bin Laden, we were reminded that we are still under potential daily assault by terrorists.
Most of us were not related to or even acquainted with anyone who perished on September 11. But most of us heard the recordings of those phone calls made by people on the doomed aircraft that day. What we heard provided us tangible proof of what the real "bottom line" is for us creatures called human beings. In the heart-stopping moments before the ends of their lives, the people who could, contacted their most precious loved ones to tell them how they felt about them just before they died.
None of those calls had anything to do with mundane, day-to-day details. They had nothing to do with money and possessions. They had only to do with one combined thing, love and relationships. There was no time for small talk, or anything other than, "Thank you" and "I love you" and "Take care of yourself and the children." And, "Goodbye."
We were deeply affected by what we heard in those recordings and the reports of calls from within the collapsing buildings and doomed aircraft. It opened a place in our hearts, in an inward spiral, first for those who had died, then for those who survived them, and finally for all the people—past and present—who had affected our own lives.
Our collective grief expanded our sense of love and connection to the single thing that stands out above all other things—our relationships with other people.
Little by little, our lives got back to normal. Our fears subsided. We re-boarded aircraft, and though still very alert, our hyper-vigilance was reduced to manageable levels. We stopped being glued to the news channels in dread terror of the next horrific chapter. We learned a lot about potential dangers and we may even feel better prepared to deal with a variety of life threatening possibilities, on behalf of ourselves and our families.
For a while, the impact of September 11 brought us together, at least in the ways we've mentioned here. But then we slipped back to pre-September 11 levels in our sense of relationship to those outside of our own inner circle.
And then came the terror alerts, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq 2, and the lingering aftermath.
Only this time, we are not joined together communally the way we were on September 12. We are divided into camps that split families and friendships apart. People can't seem to talk civilly with each other when they have opposing views. A friend of ours said, "The country is totally polarized and evenly divided." What a chilling comment. There is an abyss. It is one that overlooks the ultimate message that we needed to take from September 11. We must pull together not apart.
Lest we forget.
Memorial Day evolved from its original and singular idea to include a far-reaching concept of honoring all who had fought for us. However, somewhere along the way, like many holidays, it took a commercial detour that replaced the true intent of memorial.
As we drove to a meeting the other day, a voice on the radio announced that this Memorial Day was truly going to be one to remember. The voice went on to tell us that the cause of such powerful emotion was the incredibly low interest rate that was available on Memorial Day weekend for the purchase of an expensive luxury automobile.
You know it's true, you hear the same ads we hear.
We are not trying to change commerce. We are simply pointing out that the idea of honoring those who have made it possible for us to afford those cars and drive them safely inside our borders is getting lost in the shuffle.
We must remember all the brave souls who created our freedoms: in our American world; in the larger world; in our cultural, religious and philosophical worlds; and in the heart of our most personal family world.
We think it’s also appropriate for us to honor the memory of family members and friends who have died.
Lest we forget.
Above all, we must remember the real purpose of Memorial Day and make our communications as poignant as the ones we heard on those tapes.
To all the veterans who have served in situations beyond our comprehension, we say, "Thank you and we love you."
To all the veterans who have died for our way of life, we say, "Thank you, we love you, and goodbye.”
© 2015 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 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 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
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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.
April 2015Melbourne, Australia - April 9-12, 2015
San Francisco, CA - April 10-13, 2015
Memphis, TN - April 17-20, 2015
Denver, CO - April 17-20, 2015
Omaha, NE - April 24-27, 2015
Winnipeg, MB, Canada - April 24-27, 2015
Monterrey, NL, Mexico - April 24-27, 2015
Richmond, VA - March 13-16, 2015
Perth, Australia - March 19-22, 2015
Calgary, AB, Canada - March 20-23, 2015
Los Angeles, CA -March 20-23, 2015
Saltillo, Coah, Mexico - March 27-30, 2015