Author: ryan


October 9, 2018


It is human nature to share ideas and opinions with others. At times, it can be difficult to distinguishing the truth from an opinion freely given. Below are resources that may assist you in your personal growth along your grief journey. You determine, from what you learned if the information can assist you in your personal growth or not. The pain of grief comes in many different shades. As unique individuals we feel and respond differently. Discover your healing path with the help of a skilled grief counselor.

“Just as people do not live alike, they do not die alike. Death and dying occur in social context.”

– Cultural Competency in Grief and Loss, by Robin Florelli, MSW, LCSW, and Wanda Jenkins, MHS.

The resources provided below are a variety of recommended readings that may assist you or someone you love in the grieving process.

Recommended Readings and Online Resources

November 17, 2016

Recommended Grief Readings

Byock MD, Ira, The Four Things That Matter Most

Doka, K. editor (2009) Living with Grief: Diversity and the End-of life Care, Hospice Foundation of America.

Floyd, Maita, Caretakers the Forgotten People

Ginshurg, Genevieve Davis, Widow to Widow: Thoughtful, Practical ideas for rebuilding your life

Kuebelbeck, Amy, Waiting with Gabriel: A story of Cherishing a baby’s brief life.

Kushner, Harold S., When Bad things Happen to Bad People

Levang, Ph.D, Elizabeth, When Men Grieve: Why men grieve differently & how you can help.

Rutter, Phillip A. and Emil Soucar, Youth Suicide and Sexual Orientation, Journal of Adolescence, Vol 37 (146) Sum.2002, 289-299.

Staudacher, Carol, A Time to Grieve: Meditation for healing after the death of a loved One.

Tatelbaum, Judy, The Courage to Grieve: Creating Living, Recover & Growth through grief.

Wrobeskie, Adena, Suicide: A Guide for those Left Behind

Child and Teen Grief Readings

Buscaglia, Leo, The Fall of Freddy the Leaf

De Paola, Tomie, Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs

Varley, Susan, Badger’s Parting Gifts

Viorst, Judith, The Tenth good Thing About Barney

Grollman, Earl, Straight Talk about Death for Teenagers.

Online Resources for Child Grief

Dougy Center

National Alliance for Grieving Children

New York Life Foundation

National Center for School Crisis & Bereavement

Child Grief Awareness Day

Moyer Foundation

Recommended Reading for all Ages

Exupery, Antoine de Saint, The Little Prince, Harcourt Brace, Javanovich

Hague, Michael, The Velveteen Rabbit, Holt, Rinehart, Winston

Lewis, C. S., Chronicles of Narnia, Macmillan (set of seven books)

Mandino, Og and Kaye, Buddy, The Gift of Acabar, Bantam Books

Paulus, Trina, Hope For The Flowers, Paulist Press

Prepared to Respond

November 17, 2016

by Jeremy Brown, Bereavement Specialist

We live in a world where the potential of traumatic incidents and crisis is becoming an ever increasing reality. Each day we watch in disbelief as news outlets deliver information about the latest mass shooting, freak accident, or tragic death of a young child. It seems as though the news of these types of situations is inescapable. Everywhere we turn we are faced with the reality that there is no corner of our world which is exempt from crisis and trauma. The days of thinking and hoping that tragedy will somehow bypass our community are gone. This is why our community needs to be prepared to respond and support one another when a critical incident does occur.

Recently, several members of the Community Hospice Bereavement team attended a training which was focused on equipping people with the skills needed to respond to a variety of critical incidents in our community. The Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) training was held at the Turlock Unified School District office, and was led by David Williams, M.A., B.C.C.C. Williams has over 20 years of experience in working alongside emergency services personnel, and is a Board Certified Crisis Chaplain with the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress. Williams also holds several other certifications related to providing support and crisis intervention. During the three-day certification training, members of the Community Hospice Bereavement team were trained in both Group Crisis Intervention as well as Individual Peer Support.

As the training began, special attention was given to clarifying what a “critical incident” is. After all, in our fast paced social media driven world, words are powerful and can have a significant impact on people. For this reason, it is important to understand that critical incidents are defined as “unusually challenging events that have the potential to create significant human distress and can overwhelm one’s coping mechanisms.”(1) Upon hearing this definition, it is not uncommon to think, “Geez, I feel like I experience unusually challenging events that stress me out and overwhelm me all the time!” To some degree this is true. Life is indeed full of challenges that can feel overwhelming and cause a significant amount of stress. However, one of the keys to determining if a CISM response is needed is assessing whether or not a person affected by a crisis or traumatic event is able to respond and recover from the situation by using their normal coping mechanisms. With this in mind, we can see that CISM is more focused on a person’s response to a traumatic event rather than actual event itself. Some reactions following a trauma or crisis which may warrant a response from someone trained in CISM may include, but are not limited to: confusion or difficulty in decision making, anxiety, anger, panic, substance abuse, sleep disturbance, lack of appetite, withdrawal from normal social or workplace interactions, headaches, and even distorted vision.(2) In addition, a person in need of a CISM intervention is often unable to return to work, school, or other normal daily activities.

Whether a critical incident happens at or affects a school, business, hospital, church, sporting event, or any neighborhood here in Modesto, we want to be a support and come alongside those people who are most affected. As we look back through history we see convincing evidence “that many disorders could be nipped in the bud if prompt attention could be given.”(3) In addition, Critical Incident Stress Management is proactive in that it aims to promote “the resolution, repair, reconstruction, restoration, and rebuilding of the human spirit, mind, and body after sustaining the damages incurred by prolonged, extreme or overwhelming distress.”(4) This is why members of the Community Hospice Bereavement team attended the recent CISM training. We are committed to our neighbors here in our local and surrounding community, and we want to offer the highest level of compassionate and quality care to everyone we come in contact with. Regardless of what challenges someone may face, they can count on Community Hospice. Our team is so grateful for the opportunity we had to attend the recent certification training in Crisis Stress Management, and we are prepared to respond.

(1) George S. Everly, Jr., PhD, ABPP, FAPA, Assisting Individuals in Crisis, (International Critical Incident Stress Foundation, Inc., Ellicott, MD, 2015), 6.

(2) Jeffrey T. Mitchell, PhD., Group Crisis Intervention, (International Critical Incident Stress Foundation, Inc., Ellicott, MD, 2015), 41-43.

(3) Ibid.

(4) Ibid, 17

The First Call

November 17, 2016

“I am good.” Those are three of the most commonly used words. We use them when we see an acquaintance at the grocery store. We use them when we walk past a coworker at our job. We use them when we are greeted by a waitress at a restaurant. However, the reality is that those three simple words are often a major misrepresentation of how we are actually feeling, especially when someone we love has died.

When we spend so much time in life telling others that we are “good” or “doing ok”, we can actually begin to isolate ourselves from other people in an attempt to avoid dealing with the real pain of grief that we are experiencing. As a result, we don’t naturally tend to let other people know that we need support. We don’t ask for help. This is why making the first call to ask for grief support can be so difficult. When we make the choice to physically pick up the phone, make the call, and speak the words “I need help dealing with the grief I’m experiencing”, we are taking a step to let other people know that, in all actuality, we are not “ok.” In fact, when someone we love dies it can feel as though our heart is being broken and torn apart. The grief we experience when someone dies can leave us feeling devastated.

Each day we receive phone calls from people who are experiencing the pain and challenges of grief. Many of these calls come from people who are picking up the phone to ask for help for the first time. We know that this can feel like one of the most difficult tasks in life. Sometimes, when people call us for the first time they are unable to even speak because they are sobbing from the weight of their grief. That is ok. One time, I talked to someone who was literally sitting in their closet because they didn’t want anyone else in their house to hear them cry or know the depth of their grief. To call a stranger and let them know that someone you deeply love has died is a very personal thing. We understand that completely. It is feel vulnerable risky to make the choice to share your thoughts and feelings with a stranger. However, regardless of how difficult or even impossible it may seem to make that first phone call to ask for grief support, it is also one of the best choices you can ever make. Time and time again, I have heard people share with me about how grateful they are that they decided to call Community Hospice and ask for grief support. Time and time again, I have heard people tell me that their first phone conversation with us gave them true hope.

When someone makes the decision to call us, they often realize that they are not alone. The person who reaches out to us for support will quickly discover that there is another human being who genuinely cares about what they are going through. In fact, there is an entire team of people here at Community Hospice who deeply cares about them.

We are here because we want to walk alongside you during one of the most difficult times of your life. We are here to listen and if you would like, we can give you some helpful tools to use on your journey of grief. The first call may be one of hardest things you do, but I assure you, you will not regret it. It is one of the best choices you can make. It is a choice that will help you to take another step down the road. We are here to take that step with you.

Jeremy Brown, Community Hospice Bereavement Specialist

Memorializing Our Losses

November 17, 2016

Bereaved individuals express their grief in a variety of ways, such as creating a memory stone, planting a tree in remembrance of the deceased loved one, having a quilt made with remnants of their loved one’s clothing, donating to a favorite organization or hobby of the deceased, jogathons, lighting a candle, visiting their gravesite, having ashes placed into a piece of jewelry, or writing a song or poem.

In the past twenty (20) years another creative expression of grief has grown: the memorial tattoo. In the United States there are over 45 million people with tattoos – 40% are persons 26-40 years old. Tattoo artists are seeing a strong increase in clients who wish to honor a deceased loved one, a fallen soldier, or even a pet. Others are commemorating a tragedy, such as the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Bereaved persons are encouraged to seek support and to find a way to live with their loss and, when they are ready, to go on with their lives in a new way – creating a new normal. Another grief theory is to look at grief as a “change” rather than as an end to a relationship. Grief is a reaction to loss and the ink of a tattoo puts a stamp on those reactions. The boom in memorial tattoos is an outward expression of an inner process – a language of grief – that gives voice to loss, allows for a continuing bond with the deceased, and offers solace to those still living.

Some of those who have chosen to get a memorial tattoo have shared that they have experienced continued connection with their deceased loved one in a personal and novel way; that resiliency and hope are as much a part of their narratives as grief; how great strength is required to ink their bodies and put their loss “out there” to the world; and that as healing begins, giving back to the bereaved community often adds new purpose and direction.

A memorial tattoo may not be a consideration for every bereaved individual, but it is clear that they invite conversation. And when we open others to ask about our losses, we make our loved ones present, even beyond death; we don’t just talk about their deaths, we talk about their lives.

Excerpts from Memorializing Loss Through Tattoo
By Susan Salluce, MA, CT

Susan Salluce, MA, CT is a Certified Thanatologist and former facilitator for Friends for Survival. She is the best-selling author of the psychological fiction book Out of Breath, a contributing author to Pathways to Purpose and Hope: A Guide for Creating a Sustainable Grief Support Organization for Families and Friends after a Suicide Death, and author of GriefINK: Tattoo as the Language of Grief.

Survivor’s Bill of Rights

November 17, 2016

I have the right to live my life “guilt-free”
I have the right to feel my emotions, at the time they occur,
as long as they do not infringe on the rights of others

I have the right to peace, because I have suffered enough

I have the right to the truth – not to “have my feelings shared”
whether it is family or others involved

I have the right to talk about the death and circumstances surrounding it,
when necessary

I have the right to feel devastated – because I am

I have the right to feel angry – as long as that anger IS NOT all consuming
or harmful to myself or others

I have the right to take the time to grieve

I have the right to take the time to fully recover and heal

I have the right to feel hopeful in future endeavors,
although there may be “bleak” days ahead

I have the right to NOT feel responsible for my loved one’s death

I have the right to go on

I have the right to a new beginning in my life

I have the right to love and be loved again

I have the right to BE.

Shar Joyce, Survivor of a Suicide Loss, South Bend, IND
From: The Ultimate Rejection, September 1984.

Exerts from Men and Grieving

November 17, 2016

Most differences in how men and women grieve are the results of social responses and gender- specific roles. Not dealing with feelings can lead to depression, anxiety, isolation, physical problems and abuse. Be a man; don’t cry. This is a message little boys are given, which often impairs them from doing this natural part of grieving as adults.

Men don’t need help. Many men would rather drive around lost than ask for help. During grief, this may be how they feel- lost and reluctant to ask for help. Seeking help is a sign of weakness. Because men are already work oriented they can us that excuse to further avoid dealing with grief and hurt. They suffer in silence, believing they need to be strong, and that no one cares. Society puts this on men, so they often repress and suppress their feelings.

It is okay for men to be angry, but it isn’t okay to feel hurt, scared, to display tender feelings, or to cry. Society projects this macho image on the male identity, thus making it difficult for men to feel comfortable with expressing their feelings.

“Even though men have those needs to be strong for others, and to protect, we must remember that they defiantly grieve when they lose a beloved family member or friend. Grief is like a wave that knocks us down over and over again. Whether or not men talk much about it, they feel the force.” Judy Baker, MFT

Bereavement Ministry, 1997 Harriet Young

Suicide – From the American Federation for Prevention of Suicide

November 17, 2016

Suicide is an important topic which is affecting many people and their loved ones in our society. Although we hear about young people who die by suicide more prevalently, they are not the age group that is most affected. Older people actually have twice as many suicides in a given year than people 30 or younger.

However, every 12.8 minutes someone in America completes suicide. This is a lot of people while 78% of the actual suicides are male, 75% of the non-fatal attempts are female. The method people use are genera;;y: 51% firearms, 24.5% hanging, and 16% poisoning (which is most usually a drug or prescription overdose) Men tend to mostly use the more traumatic methods.

While many people feel that holiday times such as Christmas, etc. will bring on more suicide attempts, this is actually not borne out of statistics. The spring time (primarily the month of April) actually shows a higher incident of suicide. It is important to keep in mind that suicide is not caused so much by difficult life situations, but by medical and psychological problems. Over 90% of suicide victims have been diagnosed with such things as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or other mental and emotional concerns. This should be something of a comfort to the loved ones, who tend to take on a lot of guilt, thinking they should have been able to prevent the loss.