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
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 to bear.
On Sunday, December 26, 2004, we bore witness to such an event. The recorded sights and sounds of the Indian Ocean Tsunami entered our consciousness on the all-too-graphic wings of televised news reports. As with the repeated images of the World Trade Towers collapsing to earth, we were left with feelings that seemed impossible to accommodate.
Those two paragraphs were the opening of an article we wrote in the aftermath of the tsunami that left 230,000 dead in its wake. The title of the article was because We Are The Family Of Humankind.
On Friday, December 14th, 2012, another shock wave hit us with the news from Newtown, Connecticut. Though the number of people who died is radically different from the tsunami, the preciousness of each life lost hits home with exponential force, regardless of their ages. Once more we must lead with, Because We Are The Family Of Humankind.
We’ve used that title or subtitle many times—too many times now. We also used it in describing our response 9/11, to the Columbia Space Shuttle Disaster, and the back-to-back Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the devastation they wrought.
In each of those events, we wrote about the fact that most of us never knew any of the victims of those tragedies, whether they were caused by nature at its most violent, man at his worst, or in the case of the Shuttle, pure accident. Even though we may not have known anyone who died in those events, we were all dramatically, emotionally affected. Because we are all children of someone. Some of us are brothers or sisters; husbands or wives. We are family. We are friends. And every relationship we have is precious.
When we hear tragic news, we naturally think about what we might be feeling if it were one or more of our people who were taken from us. And if we’re not directly involved, our hearts go to the people who’ve been in our lives, but are no longer here.
We write the same headline today Because We Are Still The Family Of Humankind.
The Holiday Season Collides with Grief
The travesty of Newtown puts grief in the forefront of our hearts and minds. There are many families who will sit down to holiday dinner tables this year very much aware of someone missing, someone who has always been there, who died during the past year.
For others it will be the first holiday table after a divorce, and though their feelings are caused by a different loss, their emotions are none-the-less powerful.
Some people will want to skip that holiday dinner, fearful of the feelings they know will surface. We hope they don’t stay away. We hope they not only come to the dinner, but that they talk openly about missing the person who’s gone.
Tears and Laughter and Stories Go Together
My mother died nineteen years ago the day before Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving day, I was on a plane flying to Florida, still shocked at my mother’s sudden death. In the daze my family was in, with brothers, sisters, and grandkids arriving from all over the country at all hours, we didn’t have a formal Thanksgiving dinner that year.
The next year was the first holiday gathering for me after my mother had died. We were at a friend’s house with about 20 people we knew. When we all sat down at the table, I took a liberty and stood up and offered the first toast. With tears in my eyes, and a crack in my voice, I toasted my mom—and everyone else who was missing.
Most of the people at that table had never met my mom, but one after the other, everybody stood up and toasted someone from their life. And there were tears, and there was laughter, and there were stories. And nobody was forgotten. It’s sad enough when those we love are no longer physically here. It’s even sadder when we don’t talk about them.
It is now a tradition that no matter where we are, I make the first toast and start the emotional ball rolling—Because We Are All Part Of The Family of Humankind.
© 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.
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The Art of Condolence
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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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Post-Holiday, Grief-Related Blues!
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Newtown, Connecticut—Our Grief, Because We Are The Family Of Humankind
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Dealing with Grief During the Holidays
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On Crying—Part Two
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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 2015 - 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
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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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Our Reaction to The Tucson Tragedy – Because We Are the Family of Humankind!
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Stages of Grief: Are There Actual Stages Of Grief?
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Is It Ever Too Soon To Recover?
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Why Won’t Anyone Let Me Feel Sad?
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Six Major Myths – The Short Version
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Do I Have to Cry To Grieve?
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When Your Heart Is Broken, Your Head Doesn’t Work Right And Your Spirit May Not Soar
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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.
August 2015New York, NY - Aug 7-10, 2015
Perth, WA, Australia - Aug 13-16, 2015
Bend, OR - Aug 14-17, 2015
Pittsburgh, PA - Aug 21-24, 2015
Monterrey, N.L, Mexico - Aug 28-31, 2015
September 2015Melbourne, VIC, Australia - Sept 3-6, 2015
Des Moines, IA - Sept 11-14, 2015
Gatwick, England - Sept 18-21, 2015
Detroit, MI - Sept 18-21, 2015
Houston, TX - Sept 18-21, 2015
Los Angeles, CA - Sept 25-28, 2015
Thunder Bay, ON, Canada - Sept 25-28, 2015
Mexico City, D.F., Mexico - Sept 25-28, 2015
Atlanta, GA - Sept 25-28, 2015