Sunday, February 28, 2010

Recommended Web Sites and Blogs

    For Bereaved Parents:
    Hello Grief: A Place to Share and Learn about Grief - Powered by Comfort Zone Camp and made possible by a generous donation from New York Life, this helpful and informative Web Site is for parents, teens, mentors, friends and everyone else.  Features include community support in the form of a discussion forum, helpful articles and stories, and links to helpful resources:  “Hello Grief provides information and resources about grief in order to break through the current culture of avoidance that surrounds death and loss. Instead, Hello Grief addresses bereavement head-on for those who are helping others cope, as well as those who need support on their own personal journey with grief. In a world that doesn't get it, we do.”

    Partnership for Parents - An online resource for parents of seriously ill children,  this site also includes Sharing Wisdom, a number of articles written by bereaved parents from all walks of life, most of whom lost children to serious illnesses.

    The Loss of a Child - A mother whose adult son died suddenly at age 37 shares her personal grief journey, offers insights and resources, and introduces her book, Living, Loving, and Losing a Son.
     
    Gratitude in Grief - This extraordinary blog journal was created by freelance writer Kelly Buckley to document her journey following the tragic loss of her 23-year old son Stephen on July 4, 2009. Kelly is a gifted writer whose posts are filled with wisdom, resilience and hope:  “One thing has helped me breathe, and that is finding at least one little thing to be grateful for each day, in spite of the pain.”  Kelly’s blog is based on her newly published book of the same name, Gratitude in Grief. Her hope is that her writings will help others find their "one little thing" as well.

    GrievingDads.com - After losing two babies to death in the span of two years, bereaved father Kelly Farley “made a promise to Katie, Noah and myself that once I was strong enough, I would reach out to other dads who’ve lost a child and help them come to terms with their loss and to help them find their way.” He developed his Web site as a way “to reach out to all bereaved dads and to provide a conduit to share their stories.”  In addition to raising awareness of the impact of child loss on fathers, Kelly’s ultimate goal is to create a book that represents a cross-section of bereaved fathers.  “I want anyone who picks up this book to be able to relate with someone else’s story so that they don’t feel so alone in their journey through grief.  To let them know that other dads have traveled this path or are currently on the same path.”  Bereaved dads interested in participating in his online survey will find more information here: Share Your Story

    For Bereaved Spouses:
    Journey Through Grief - Developed by Janelle Shantz Hertzler, a wife and mother whose husband was killed by a drunk driver in 2005, this site offers several well-written articles about the normal grief process. It is packed with creative ideas and practical suggestions to help others work through grief – by using memory books, journaling, poetry reading and writing, and much more.  Janelle is the author of the forthcoming book Seasons of Solace: A Story of Healing through Photos and Poems.

    After-Words - Here blogger LeighSW offers a useful road map of basic actions that need to be taken during the first few months after the death of a loved one.

    For the Chronically and Terminally Ill and Those Who Care for Them:
    Dying: A Book of Comfort – Author Pat McNees describes her Web site as an expansion of her book by the same title, which offers healing words on loss and grief, not only for the chronically and terminally ill but also for those who love and care for them.  A wealth of useful information is included on her site, from managing life for the elderly and disabled to the healing powers of recording life stories and writing ethical wills.  (Pat's beautiful book, Dying: A Book of Comfort is available as a paperback from Amazon, but if you decide to order it directly from the author, you'll receive the Guild hardcover edition which, according to the author, is nicer for gift-giving and costs less.)

    For Survivors of Suicide:
    The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) invites those who have lost a loved one to suicide to join their e-survivor network. Members learn about new resources and initiatives and play a role in mobilizing support for research and education. As a tool for communication and for action, the e-Network addresses topics of interest to survivors and empowers those who wish to become advocates for suicide prevention.  Click here to sign up for Survivor E-network E-mails, and here to learn more about the AFSP’s Suicide Prevention Survivor Outreach Program

    Numbers to call
    if you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts:
    • Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK
    • Suicide & Crisis Hotline 1-800-999-9999

    Saturday, February 27, 2010

    Selected Tweets, February 21 to 27

    The best tweets and re-tweets from GriefHealing's Twitter stream this week:

    Saturday, February 20, 2010

    Selected Tweets, February 14 to 20

    Listed below are tweets (and re-tweets) selected from GriefHealing’s Twitter stream this week. (You can follow Grief Healing on Twitter @griefhealing)
    • Helpful article by Harriet Hodgson,Writing Affirmations Can Help With Grief http://bit.ly/dmHZYo   

    Thursday, February 18, 2010

    Recommended Articles

    In The New York Times column New Old Age: Caring and Coping, Paula Span encourages empathy for seniors experiencing grief and loss, Words for Seniors Facing Loss

    A woman asks how to comfort her mother following the death of her beloved canine companion, Mom Upset after Burying Her Dog

    BBC News Magazine asks How Much Can You Mourn a Pet? 

    On her blog Gratitude in Grief, bereaved mother Kelly Buckley describes how, without saying a word, her "Wonder Dog" Rudy comforts her in her grief, in Animals and the Grieving Heart.

    Psychologist/author Pavel G. Somov, PhD  offers a clear and simple definition of mindfulness in Mindfulness is Ignorance (Bliss) on Demand 

    Grief counselor Lauren Zeefe, LPC, CT offers helpful suggestions for mourners in her guest blog post, Healing Grief

    Author and psychology student Sonia Neale explains the important differences between friendship and a therapeutic relatonship in Why You Can’t Be Friends with Your Therapist – Ever!

    Ann D. Foster, Director of the State Bar of Texas Lawyers' Assistance Program, discusses suicide warning signs in Suicide Prevention: How to Help Colleagues in Crisis

    In preparation for the anticipated (May 2013) publication of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), the American Psychiatric Association has posted online the preliminary draft revisions to the current diagnostic critera for psychiatric diagnoses.  Since they were made available for review and opened for public comment, the proposed changes have sparked considerable debate.  See, for example, Opening Pandora's Box: The 19 Worst Suggestions for DSM-V and A Review of the DSM-5 Draft.  Do you have any comments you'd like to share?

    Sunday, February 7, 2010

    Singing Their Song

     If their song is to continue, then we must do the singing. ~ Elaine Stillwell

    In the three YouTube video clips below, psychologist and songwriter Anna Huckabee Tull (profiled here in an earlier post, Custom Crafted Songs) appears as a guest on Shrink Rap with hostess Szifra Birke.

    In Part 1, Anna tells the story of how her song Bright Eyes came to be, and later she performs it for us. She wrote the song two years ago when a father -- who was dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease and no longer able to speak -- commissioned it for his young daughter. (It is later disclosed that the CEO of the ALS Association heard the song and asked Anna to perform it live for his Board of Directors.  He then invited her to perform it for the largest-ever gathering of ALS patients and their families at the 2009 Public Policy Convention in Washington, D.C. The song can be purchased on iTunes, with all profits going to ALS Research.



    In Part 2, Anna talks about the therapeutic benefits of her work, and how she uses her song-writing “as a way to give voice to the places” inside the hearts and minds of her clients.



    In Part 3, Anna shares the response song from the daughter to her father, entitled Daddy. Written two years after Bright Eyes, it was commissioned by the daughter (who is now a teenager) for her father (who is now completely immobile and kept alive by a respirator).



    Anna says she thinks of her unique and beautiful work as yet another way to help her clients heal. “Some things in life really are painful,” she observes, “and one important message this song sends is that it’s okay to hurt.” You can learn more about commissioning a song from Anna here: How It Works

    Thursday, February 4, 2010

    Resources for Service Members and Their Families

    [Note: Since its original appearance in 2010, this post has been updated with links to additional resources ~ most recently on September 4, 2017.]

    World War II was the last war fought in which the President asked Congress for a declaration of war. Nevertheless, United States armed forces have been engaged in combat operations ever since ~ most recently in Afghanistan and Iraq. Never before has our country been engaged in battle for so long a period of time, and never in our history has such a heavy burden been placed on our service members and their families, with no end in sight.  Like most Americans, I am deeply grateful for the sacrifices these dedicated people are making for the rest of us, and I worry about them, too.  How will these brave men and women reintegrate back into their families and into society when they return from military combat, and what is the military doing to facilitate that?

    My interest in this question prompted me to listen to a riveting 90-minute Webinar, Understanding PTSD and the Military's Role in Resilience, Recovery and Reintegration for Service Members and Families.  Moderated by Steve Robinson, veterans advocate and key military advisor to This Emotional Life, and featuring Brig. Gen. Loree K. Sutton, MD, director of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE), the program focused on military combat-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the resources available to assist warriors and their families.

    “The unseen wounds of war are real,” Gen. Sutton asserted, "and a new model is needed to prepare our troops and their families in advance for their return home."  They need specific strategies and skill sets, ready access to resources, and a referral network to – as one soldier aptly put it – “adjust from being a target to shopping at Target.” 

    In order to promote the processes of building resilience, facilitating recovery and supporting reintegration of returning service members, veterans and their families, Gen. Sutton advocates early intervention, making certain that warriors, their buddies and their family members know and recognize the signs and symptoms of post-traumatic combat stress reactions and related mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.  It’s also important, she said, for them to have hope, knowing that help for these conditions is effective and readily available.

    Accordingly the DcoE has undertaken a number of initiatives and developed programs to help keep our warriors and their families psychologically strong and encourage them to reach out for help when needed:
    • The Real Warriors Campaign combats the stigma associated with seeking psychological health care and treatment, and encourages service members to increase their awareness and use of these resources. It promotes the processes of building resilience; facilitating recovery; and supporting the reintegration of returning service members, veterans and their families.  
    • The DCoE Outreach Center provides a 24/7 call center staffed by experienced and compassionate health resource consultants to provide confidential answers, tools, tips and resources about psychological health issues and traumatic brain injury. The Outreach Center can be reached toll-free at 866-966-1020, via e-mail at resources@dcoeoutreach.org or through online chat at Real Warriors Live Chat.
    • Sesame Street Workshop’s Talk, Listen, Connect helps young children (ages two to five) cope with the deployment cycle and challenges of a parent in danger. Additionally, For Military Families allows families and friends to stay in touch through messages, artwork, photos and video clips. Both Sesame Street resources also offer communication tips for parents.
    DCoE offers a variety of psychological health and traumatic brain injury resources (including websites and mobile applications) for service members, veterans and their families. Check out the DCoE Resource Catalog for a complete list.

    See also Military One Source, which  offers help with a wide variety of needs including education, relocation, parenting, and managing stress. Available by phone or online, this free service is provided by the Department of Defense for active-duty, Guard, and Reserve service members and their families. The service is completely private and confidential, with few exceptions.

    Veterans Home Care is designed to provide immediate assistance to qualified veterans and their surviving spouses. By providing a personal care coordinator to assist in the application process, the program personally aids veterans and surviving spouses in assembling the information required by the VA to qualify them for their benefits.

    Your feedback is welcome! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question, or share a tip, a related article or a resource of your own in the Comments section below.
    If you’d like Grief Healing Blog updates delivered right to your inbox, you’re cordially invited to subscribe to our weekly Grief Healing NewsletterSign up here.

    Related:
    © by Marty Tousley, RN, MS, FT, DCC  [Updated September 4, 2017]

    Monday, February 1, 2010

    Grief and Mourning: History, Culture, & Science

    Meghan O'Rourke
    In the February 1, 2010 issue of The New Yorker, writer and bereaved daughter Meghan O’Rourke explores the history, culture and science of mourning and grief in her comprehensive and well written article, Good Grief: Is There a Better Way to Be Bereaved?

    In the accompanying podcast, Losing Rituals, New Yorker Out Loud host Blake Eskin talks with Meghan about her own mother’s death and the loss of mourning rituals in American culture. Topics include mourning rituals and expressing condolences, the difference between grief and mourning, the stages theory of grief, what is normal in grief, public vs. private mourning, the role of the Internet as community in grief, the concept of resilience, and the importance of being patient with the process.

    A contributing writer for the online magazine Slate, Meghan O'Rourke also has documented her journey through mother loss and grief  in the eight-part series Grieving: A Study of Bereavement
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