The Shadow of Suicide

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The recent reports of well-known celebrities dying from suicide have brought this topic to our national attention. The statistics are stunning – 43,000 suicide deaths in 2016 make it the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., and in the 15-34 age group, the second leading cause of death. These … [Read more...]

A Broken Heart

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“My heart is broken” is a lament often spoken by those who mourn. While that description is poetic, rather than literal, what is the physical impact on the heart and the rest of the body when a loss occurs? The day after the funeral and burial of former First Lady Barbara Bush, her husband was … [Read more...]

No Words

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A bereaved father whose daughter died in a car accident described an experience to me that frightened him. “It was a surge of feelings that started in my feet and traveled through my whole body and came out in a primal sound that did not seem like my voice,” he said. Anthropologist Renato … [Read more...]

Continuing Bonds

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In a bereaved parents’ meeting, I recently spoke about the desire many parents have to continue the emotional bond with their children who have died. The signs of relief were audible. “I am tired of the pressure to ‘get over’ the death of my daughter,” one mother said. “I will love her and feel … [Read more...]

A Cookie on Christmas Day

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“May we do something from my culture today?” our Japanese daughter-in-law asked us last Christmas day. “On holidays, we take food to the cemetery and leave it on the graves of our relatives.” And so we did. We loaded up the cars and drove to the cemetery where several of our family members are … [Read more...]

Both And

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I hear confusion from those who grieve in this holiday season because they experience conflicting emotions. The collision between the expectations of holiday happiness and the personal reality of grief can create confusion. “My feelings go back and forth from the sadness I feel from my loss this … [Read more...]

What Do I Say?

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Dear Readers, This post is longer than usual but due to a recent news event, I wanted to offer some specific ideas about how to respond to the bereaved. President Trump recently asked his Chief of Staff the question "What do I say?" as he prepared to call a Gold Star family. Who among us has not … [Read more...]

What Was Big Is Now Small

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A bereaved father recently shared this story with me: “I had to walk out of a work meeting the other day. It was my first week back to work after my daughter’s death, and I found myself completely impatient with my team. The topics were so trivial, and they were so worked up as they talked. At first … [Read more...]

A Season With Myrrh

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It is a story often repeated this time of year. The three magi come from the east, following a star to find the Christ child. When they find Him they worship Him and present three gifts – gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Theologians and Bible scholars have offered ideas about the symbolic meaning … [Read more...]

Grief, Bereavement and Mourning

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Grief, bereavement and mourning are words often used to describe the experience of loss. Each of these words describes a different aspect of this experience. Grief is the noun used to describe all of the feelings inside us after a loss. Bereavement means to be deprived of someone by death. … [Read more...]