Your Curiosity Can Complicate My Grief & My Healing

As I watched the horrific shooting deaths of two young journalists captured live on video, my heart went out immediately to their family and friends. I cannot imagine how difficult this must be to have their very personal tragic losses played out over and over again in newscasts and social media across the United States and the world. I understand as a former broadcast journalist myself that this story is “news” but as the victim of a very public tragedy I also know that the public broadcast of your loved one’s death is going to complicate your grief journey. Each replay of the last minutes of those two journalists’ lives is another knife driven into the hearts of their friends and loved ones.

Twenty-four hours after the May 1993 multi-car accident that eventually took the lives of my two year old adopted daughter Katie and my thirty-five year old wife Cindy reporters were calling to talk with me in my hospital room about my reactions to my public, but very personal tragedy. To this day the anger I felt at a news reporter trying to make a sensational headline and story out of my family’s trauma and losses returns. How could they try to make a living off my personal, private grief? Why does their audience crave the gory details of someone else’s tragedy? Despite the journalistic mantra of “The people have a right to know,” the truth is that the details of my daughter’s and wife’s last minutes on earth are none of their business.

What good comes from the public or any prying person finding out the full details of your loved one’s death? It’s one thing if you as part of the grieving family and friends want to tell the story. It just might be therapeutic and part of your healing process. But curious bystanders outside of the loved one’s circle of family and friends need to curb that curiosity and be present only to support and encourage you or any other mourner.

Mourners, beware the emotional vultures that circle your tragedy and feed off your loss and pain. Although they pretend to care and be there for you, they are there with you only for their own voyeuristic needs. And what is sadder, is that they may not even be aware that they are using you and your crisis to benefit themselves emotionally. Also they are not aware how their questions and prying into your private life can cause additional trauma and emotional wounding for you.

Mourn and share your story only in places and with people who make you feel safe, supported and care for.   Just because somebody wants to know more doesn’t mean you are obligated to share all the details of how your loved one died or the situation surrounding the death, before or after.   Just because someone asks a question about your loss and grief, doesn’t mean you have to give them an answer.

Written by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  available online at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Never-LPC-S-Larry-Barber/dp/1613796005 ), Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-never-dies-lpc-s-ct-larry-m-barber-ct-larry-m/1104364890?ean=9781613796016).

The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” 

Both English and Spanish versions are available for Kindle and Nook. Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX  http://grief-works.org.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Ten Tips for Starting a Grief Support Group

Are you thinking of starting a grief support group in your community?  Here are a few suggestions to consider before you start the group.

  1. Make  sure that your grief support group meets a real need:
    Before launching a grief support group, it would be best to prepare by researching the need for the group you want to start in the community.  Take time to formally assess the interest in grief support groups (and your specific type of support group) in your community.  These are some of the questions you will want to use to find data that justifies starting a new grief support group:
  • What kinds of grief support groups already exist in the community to be served?  Are they successful or not?
  • What needs are not being met by current grief support groups in the community?  Can your group meet those some or all of these unmet needs?
  • Are there already enough or too many groups in the community?
  • Who else (besides just you) is willing to commit time and effort to make the grief support group you want to start successful?
  1. Determine what format your grief support group will use.
    What kind of group would you like to provide? Consider the following:
  • A group combining education and support?
  • A self-help group led by bereaved people who have already worked toward their own reconciliation of the death of someone loved? Or can the facilitators of the groups be any person who is knowledgeable about grief and has a heart to help hurting people?
  • A therapy support group led by professional therapists and limited to a small number of members?
  • A social support group usually intended for people who have been working through their grief and could benefit from social contact with other bereaved people?
  • An “open-ended” grief support group with no set number of sessions and in which members come and go depending upon their needs?  These groups are on-going with old members dropping out and new members coming in.  These tend to be open-discussion groups with no set curriculum for each session.
  • A “closed-ended” grief support group with limited group membership and meeting for a specific number of days or weeks?  Most “closed-ended” grief support groups meet for six to eight weeks and then terminate.  Once the group begins, no new group members are added.
  1. Decide who can be a member of the grief support group
    Depending upon what your goals for your grief support group is you will want to ask:
  • Will people wanting to participate in the grief support group be required to register in advance? 
  • Will group members be required to pay a fee to cover the costs of the group leader’s time and any written materials provided?
  • Will group leaders or facilitators prescreen potential group members? 
  • What will be the qualifications be for candidates for the group?  Will there be a formalized evaluation tool used by those screening members for the group?
  • Will the group be a loss specific group (loss of spouse, loss of child, loss of parent or grandparent, loss by violent crimes, loss by suicide, etc.) or a general loss group (accepting participants with various types of losses)?
  • Will the group members be given assignments to perform between sessions?
  1. Getting  a location for the grief support group
    Group leaders need to investigate all options including:
  • Will a sponsor (business, agency, organization, church) provide space and at what time? 
  • Can space be rented for the group?
  • Is the location easily accessible?
  • Will the location provide a professional, safe, confidential setting where participants will feel comfortable in attending and sharing their private grief experience?
  1. Make sure the space has the right atmosphere for a grief support group:
    Consider the following as you pick and prepare your meeting space:
  • The meeting room needs to be free of distractions.  A feeling of privacy and confidentiality should be attempted by having the meeting room away from other people and activities.
  • The room shouldn’t be too large or small for the group.  Large rooms cut down on the feeling of intimacy.  Small rooms can create feelings of claustrophobia.
  • Soft lighting is preferable to bright overhead lights.
  • Ideally the room should feel more like a comfortable room in someone’s home.  To encourage intimacy and sharing in the group, have participants in a circle of comfortable chairs (be sensitive to spacing and others’ need for personal space).
  • For grief support groups where participants are expected to take notes or do written exercises, form tables and chairs into a “u” boardroom type setting.  The group facilitator should be positioned at the top of the “u.” 
  1. Determine the size of the grief support group
    The number of group members will depend upon the type of group you are leading.  To encourage interaction try to limit your group to 8-12 members.
    When groups get too large, the sense of safety and freedom to be verbally expressive diminishes.  When groups become large, they are more of a class than a grief support group.

Don’t be surprised if your group is small when beginning the grief support groups.  Sometimes it takes word of mouth and consistency in providing the groups to build the groups to larger sizes.

Also don’t be surprised if members drop from the group during the sessions or if members don’t attend all the sessions regularly.

  1. Decide how long and how often the group meets.
    Groups can meet weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.  You will also want to consider what time will be most beneficial and convenient…daytime or night time sessions.Most groups meet for an hour and a half to two hours.   Make the group long enough so that everyone who has the need to share has time to.  At the same time, don’t let members hijack the group and use the whole time by monopolizing the time available.
  2. Make rules for the grief support groups and enforce them.
    Create an appropriate list of ground rules for the group.  The rules allow group members to know what to expect from you and what is expected from them.  Rules should set reasonable boundaries and encourage mourners to share their experiences and grief emotions.Establish the ground rules by reading through the list in the first group meeting.  You may even want to consider having group members read the rules and sign a group agreement to  show their commitment to the group and its members.  
  3. Make certain mourners in the community know about the group.
    Since grief support groups are generally non-profit, free publicity is yours for the      asking.  Local newspapers will often put support group information submitted in a community calendar.  Write news releases and distribute them to radio and TV stations.  Use posters or flyers.  Mail them to funeral homes, churches, hospices, hospitals and area counseling agencies.When starting the group, don’t neglect to call or meet personally with those who can help to get the word out about your group – ministers, health care professionals, funeral directors, hospice, hospitals, etc.
  4.   Keep in touch the group members between group sessions.
    You can cut down on the number of members missing meetings, by calling each group member every week to check on how they are doing and reminding them of the next meeting date and time.  Remember: grief can make mourners forgetful and unfocused.If you are unable to call each person, you might want to send notes to encourage them and to remind them of the next meeting date and time.

Written by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  available online at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Never-LPC-S-Larry-Barber/dp/1613796005 ), Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-never-dies-lpc-s-ct-larry-m-barber-ct-larry-m/1104364890?ean=9781613796016).

The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” 

Both English and Spanish versions are available for Kindle and Nook. Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX  http://grief-works.org.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Don’t You Tell Me How to Grieve!

We all like to know what to expect. No surprises. Nothing unexpected. That’s the way most of us like our lives to be. So it’s not surprising that when we lose a loved one we go to the “experts” in grief to find out a game plan, a set of rules or a “to do” list for grief that lets us know what’s going to happen, when it’s going to happen and what we’re supposed to do when it does happen. In grief we mourners and our caregivers want to be prepared. No surprises. Nothing unexpected.

But grief is not predictable. In fact, each grief and every mourner is different. There are no two losses or resulting griefs that are exactly alike, even when the losses are right-down-to-the-details identical. There are just too many factors that shape each grief and all those factors in every loss differ in some way.

Even when we are in a family, neighborhood or community where all of us experience losing the same person to death, each individual mourner experiences the loss of that one person differently. Also each mourner will have different needs to help them get through their grief and to adjust themselves and their lives to the same loss.

Why? Because the major factor shaping your loss and your grief is the unique, one-of-a-kind in-all-the-universe relationship you had with that person. There is no other relationship exactly like the relationship and memories you have with your loved one who died.

So don’t fall for the cookie cutter grief formulas that give you a set of rules, predictable stages or levels, or a “to do” list of things you have to do in order to heal or have “normal” grief. And stay away from the grief guide who tries to orchestrate your grief to fit how he or she thinks is the only right way to grieve. Because of the unpredictability of grief and the uniqueness of each mourner and his or her grief, what works for some may not work for others. To try these rigid models or guidelines for mourning, only sets up the grieving person for possible failure, disappointment and the resulting feeling of being abnormal or wrong in your grief. They say to themselves “I tried the fool-proof grief process and failed so there must be something majorly wrong with me!”

Go with the grief experts who know that only you can teach them about your unique grief. Only when the caregiver or counselor has been taught about your grief by you, can they walk alongside of you to find out what is natural and healthy for you in your grieving process to meet your unique needs.

Also, look out for those who try to rush your grief. Grief has its own timetable and forcing mourners to try to move through grief quickly can cause more emotional trauma and struggles for the mourner. Let your caregiver or counselor know that you are wanting to move through grief in a manner and at a speed that will be healthy for you. You don’t want to do anything in your grief that will hurt you or others around you.

Written by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  available online at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Never-LPC-S-Larry-Barber/dp/1613796005 ), Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-never-dies-lpc-s-ct-larry-m-barber-ct-larry-m/1104364890?ean=9781613796016).

The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” 

Both English and Spanish versions are available for Kindle and Nook. Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX  http://grief-works.org.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Do Not Fall for These 11 Myths About Grief

MYTH # 1:

Grief is a negative experience which must be gotten over quickly. Life must go on. Truth: Grief is a normal, appropriate reaction to loss. Grief gives the individual time to do self-evaluation and to reconcile themselves to the change in the relationship with the person who has died. The only way to get through grief is to experience and cope with it. Embracing grief and its painful emotions leads to healing. In grief and loss, emotions are neither good nor bad. They just exist.

MYTH # 2:

Grievers are best left alone to grieve. Truth: Occasional solitude can be helpful for mourners. To be alone with your thoughts now and then can be helpful. Mourners need opportunities to share their memories and receive comfort from others. Community and support systems play an important part in a healthy grief journey.

MYTH # 3:

Giving into grief and its emotions shows weakness, a lack of faith or spiritual strength. Truth: All people, whatever their religious or spiritual beliefs or practices, experience grief at the loss of a valued loved one. Spiritual and religious beliefs can be a comfort and can provide additional resources to ease mourning, but they cannot eliminate completely grief or the pain of loss.

MYTH # 4:

Grief is a predictable process and takes place in successive stages. Truth: Although common emotions and grief tasks toward healing are experienced by all mourners. grief is not a linear, predictable process. Grief is a progressive, individualized journey to healing.

The often cited grief stages of Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance have led mourners and many caregivers to think of grief as following a set pattern or predictable steps that must be followed exactly toward healing. These stages were developed by Dr. Elisabeth Kubhler-Ross, a death education pioneer, originally as five stages experienced by dying patients. Although mourners go through similar experiences in grief, there is no one blueprint or map for the path through grief.

MYTH # 5:

Grief can finally end. Truth: Time gives people an opportunity to heal and to learn new coping skills, but the process and pain of grief can last a life time. The good news is that the intense mourning period immediately following the loss does not have to last a lifetime. Grief and the mourner change over time.

The closeness of the relationship with the person lost determines the difficulty of the grieving process. We grieve for lost loved ones in direct proportion to the love and emotional investment we have in our relationship with them.

MYTH # 6:

Individuals must grieve in appropriate ways and places. Truth: When I hear this myth I think people are actually advising mourners to grieve as quietly as possible and far away from them. Sometimes the “comforters” surrounding the mourner are uncomfortable with outward signs of grief.   “Comforters” are many times pained at seeing mourners hurt and at a loss for what to do. Out of their discomfort with the mourner, they may suggest that more appropriate grief expressions and places might work out better.

Often grief and its accompanying emotions are uncontrollable and demand to be expressed. Mourners are advised to grieve in places where they feel safe and with people who make them feel comfortable and supported.

MYTH # 7:

Grief is an emotional reaction. Truth: Grief is a process involving the entire person. Therefore, grief has physical, emotional, spiritual and social aspects. Mourning meets deep needs of the person in all these areas. It is exhausting work demanding the full resources of the mourner.

MYTH # 8:

Grievers must “let go” or “detach” from their lost loved one. Truth: Mourners cannot let go of the people they love. They can learn to accept the reality of the death, its impact on their lives and the loss of their relationship with the loved one as it was. They can maintain a loving, healthy and healing relationship with the one who died.

MYTH # 9:

Only family members and close friends grieve. Truth: Everyone who feels an attachment to the deceased experiences loss.

MYTH # 10: People just grieve loss caused by deaths. Truth: All losses are grieved. In fact, we spend our a good portion of our lives mourning what psychologists call “small deaths,” losses caused by crises and life changes.

MYTH # 11:

Loss is a perfect opportunity to teach important lessons about life and death, sin and punishment, faith and eternal rewards. Truth: Loss provides us an opportunity to minister to people’s most intimate needs. A mourner can always learn throughout the grief process, but a good lesson about life and death is not what they most often need initially. In their darkest times of grief, mourners need support, encouragement, comfort and hope.

Compiled by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  available online at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Never-LPC-S-Larry-Barber/dp/1613796005 ), Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-never-dies-lpc-s-ct-larry-m-barber-ct-larry-m/1104364890?ean=9781613796016).

The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” 

Both English and Spanish versions are available for Kindle and Nook. Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX  http://grief-works.org.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

10 Ways to Cope with Loneliness

Know that Loneliness is a State of Mind, Not a Life Sentence

Loneliness is depression resulting from an inability to cope with the fact of life that this side of heaven every one of us has times when our yearnings to be heard and understood and appreciated by another human are not met.

Realizing the loneliness is normal and accepting the fact that you can’t feel love and fulfilled all the time, can make periods of loneliness more tolerable.

Learn How to Like Yourself

It is usual for people who dislike themselves to wrongly imagine that other people will also dislike them. Expecting to be disliked and rejected, they tend to withdraw from people, thus perpetuating their loneliness.

Work to break the bondage of chronic loneliness by remembering your worth is not found in the perception of others but in your Heavenly Father’s unending love for you.

Avoid Dependency on Another Human for Your Own Happiness

To put responsibility for your happiness in someone else’s hand is a scary thought, unless that person happens to be always available, never fails, never changing yet never boring, all-wise, all-powerful, immortal, and is always unselfishly devoted to maximizing your long-term happiness. People, not matter how well intentioned and loving they are, can disappoint and fail to meet our every need.

Much of the pain of loneliness is nothing more than pining for things that only God can ever give. Hoping to find these qualities in a human, rather than in God, is like hoping to find refreshment in a mirage.

Instead of craving for substitutes, go for your best and always faithful friend, God.

Exercise & Take Care of Yourself

A good, brisk walk several times a week can be surprisingly effective in picking up your spirits and making your world a whole lot brighter. It produces chemicals in the body which are natural antidepressants.

Fake It Until You Make It

No matter how unhappy you are, the very act of smiling triggers the brain to release chemicals that make you feel better. A smile also brightens your face, improving your looks better than almost any makeover. Moreover, smiling is a magnet that attracts people to you.

People instinctively sidestep a person whose unsmiling face suggests he or she might be grumpy or angry or preoccupied. It makes them wary, heightening their own fear of rejection.

Maximize the Advantages of Solitude

Even Jesus needed time alone. Follow His example and make the most of your time alone. Make it time for you to exercise your spiritual disciplines and as devotional time spent praying to and listening to Lord.

Avoid the “Poor me” Syndrome

It is alright to feel lonely. We were divinely created with a need for human companionship that can be satisfied by nothing else. Just as God could miraculously eliminate our need for oxygen, he could eliminate our need for human companionship, but he rarely does, because we can bring eternal glory to ourselves by the way we respond to this longing.

Use your loneliness as a motivation to serve others in a ministry that gives God the glory.

Focus on Giving, not Receiving

In our desperation to fill the emptiness inside us we can fall into the hole of subconsciously becoming obsessed with our needs and discounting the needs of those around us. Be like Jesus who looked with deep compassion upon the crowds who thronged to Him.

We reap what we sow. So seek to give to others what you would like someone special to give to you. It is in giving that you receive.

Don’t Give in to Desperation

It is terrifyingly easy to sell your soul in a crazed attempt to find a quick fix for loneliness. Your actions decide whether loneliness leads to honor or shame. To become entangled in unwise relationships is to sentence oneself to life-long regret. Not only is loneliness a test of character, it is a challenge in which there could be no higher stakes.

Act in haste and you could move from temporary loneliness to permanent remorse. Take time, pray and let God lead you into relationships that will be meaningful, fulfilling and productive.

Turn Being Alone into a Blessing

Let God use your life situation to shape you into the image of his Son (Romans 8:28). All that happens to us, good and bad, God can use for good and to His glory.

Posted by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  available online at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Never-LPC-S-Larry-Barber/dp/1613796005 ), Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-never-dies-lpc-s-ct-larry-m-barber-ct-larry-m/1104364890?ean=9781613796016).

The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” 

Both English and Spanish versions are available for Kindle and Nook. Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX  http://grief-works.org.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How Your Words Can Complicate My Grief

Thank you for trying to help me during my grief.  I need to let you know some things you do and say that can make my grief harder for me:

  • When you tell me to be strong in my grief and stop crying, I worry that my grief makes me look weak to others. The truth is that it takes courage to face the reality of loss and to express my emotions in healthy, appropriate and constructive ways.
  • When you tell me that I need to get busy and get my mind off my loss, you make me feel like grief is something bad to be avoided. The truth is I need to process the loss in healthy ways and move toward healing.
  • When you tell me to quit talking about my grief because no one wants to hear about it, I become reluctant to share my thoughts or feelings with anyone. I don’t want to burden other people or make them feel uncomfortable with my grief. The truth is I need to review my loss and how it has impacted my life in order to pick up the pieces of my life and move on.  Telling my grief story is therapeutic for me.
  • When you tell me you thought I would be doing better or be over my grief by now, I feel guilty and that something may be terribly wrong with me.   The truth is that grief is a natural response to the loss of someone significant in life. Grief cannot be rushed through. Grief is a process, not an event.
  • When you tell me that if I had more faith that I wouldn’t struggle with grief so much, you add to my guilt and stress. Part of that stress may be a concern that I and my grief are not pleasing to God. The truth is that no matter what you believe or how strongly you believe it, you are not exempt from the grief experience and all its emotions.
  • When you tell me that I should be happy that my loved one is in a better place or that they are no longer suffering, you make me feel selfish for missing them. The truth is I can be happy for them and sad for myself at the same time. The truth is simply I long to be in my loved one’s presence.
  • When you tell me that life must go on, you make me feel resentful toward you and life. The truth is that I am going on with my life in the best way I know how. What more do you and life want out of me?
  • When you tell me that I need to forget my loved ones and leave them in the past, I feel like you’re asking me to act as if they never existed and their lives weren’t important. The truth is my grief is because of my ongoing love for them and their value to me. All the grief emotions I experience and all the mourning behavior I display are in honor of their meaningful lives.
  • When you tell me that all things happen for a reason or that the death is God’s will, you make me question my grief, my life, my spirituality and my sanity. The truth is that you or any other human being cannot provide me or any other mourner with the answers to questions that come with a loved one’s death. You are simply saying something to make yourself feel comfort.

I know you mean well and that you want to help and support me in my grief.  I need you to quit trying to come up with answers to my questions.  I need you to talk less and listen more without judging or giving unsolicited advice.  I need you to let me know that you have heard me and are trying to understand me and my grief.  Quit trying to fix me and simply be there for me.

Written by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  available online at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Never-LPC-S-Larry-Barber/dp/1613796005 ), Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-never-dies-lpc-s-ct-larry-m-barber-ct-larry-m/1104364890?ean=9781613796016).

The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” 

Both English and Spanish versions are available for Kindle and Nook. Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX  http://grief-works.org.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Ten Tips for Reaching Out to Mourners on the July 4th Holiday Weekend

  1. When you think about them, immediately email, text or call them to just say “Hi” and let them know you are there for them.
  2. Send a personal note of encouragement, comfort and support.
  3. Give them a meaningful gift that evokes special memories of their loved one.
  4. Share your favorite memories of their loved one.
  5. When you make your favorite July 4th meal, invite them over to eat or deliver them a meal.
  6. Offer to take them to a summer blockbuster movie or a concert.
  7. Invite them to Independence Day parades, celebrations and fireworks displays.
  8. Give a donation in honor of their loved one to a charity or cause they support.
  9. Let them know you are keeping them and their family in prayer.
  10. Assure them that they are free to share whatever emotion they experience.  You won’t judge what they say or feel.  You will just listen and share the moment. 

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”  Romans 12:15 NIV

Remember to not let your fear of saying or doing the wrong thing or intruding in the life of a mourner keep you from doing anything at all for them.  Mourners need you and others for support, encouragement and comfort.  They need to speak honestly and to be heard.  They need to know they have been heard and understood.  By being there for a mourning friend or family member, you can be a catalyst in the healing process.

Written by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  available online at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Never-LPC-S-Larry-Barber/dp/1613796005 ), Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-never-dies-lpc-s-ct-larry-m-barber-ct-larry-m/1104364890?ean=9781613796016).

The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” 

Both English and Spanish versions are available for Kindle and Nook. Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX  http://grief-works.org.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Why I Wrote “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope & Promise”

Why did I write the popular, faith-based grief survival guide Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope & Promise?  Here are the reasons that I felt this important book needed to be written:

  • I am convinced that the burden of grief can be changed and lightened by altering how mourners, caregivers and culture think about grief. I want mourners as much as realistically possible to have opportunities in their grief journey to be encouraged rather than discouraged.
  • I understand that grief is never easy. I also understand that with knowledge about the true nature and purpose of grief and with support, comfort, and encouragement from others, grief can become easier.
  • I have observed that long-held misunderstandings of grief by mourners, their caregivers and supporters, and the culture often create unnecessary complications for mourners in their grief and in their lives.
  • I wanted to share with others insights, knowledge and perspectives of grief which have proven to be helpful, encouraging and healing to a majority of those in grief. Most of all I wanted to share what I wished I had known about grief as I started my grief journey over nineteen years ago.
  • I take seriously the charge given to those who have experienced the comfort of God in the message of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4:
    All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside of us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort–we get a full measure of that, too.”
  • I want mourners to discover hope that they and their grief can change over time and the promise that they have available to them the resources to get through grief in healthy and healing ways.

Written by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  available online at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Never-LPC-S-Larry-Barber/dp/1613796005 ), Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-never-dies-lpc-s-ct-larry-m-barber-ct-larry-m/1104364890?ean=9781613796016).

The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” 

Both English and Spanish versions are available for Kindle and Nook. Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX  http://grief-works.org.


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Mother’s Day for Grievers Can Be Painful

It would soon be Mother’s Day again, and I was dreading it.  I wasn’t dreading the day for myself, but for my children who had lost their mother Cindy and two-year-old sister Katie six years ago after a traffic accident.  Every Mother’s Day after my wife’s death had been shear torture for my family as in church services the congregation took out time from worship to honor the mothers attending the service.

I didn’t begrudge the families that special time honoring their mothers, but each Mother’s Day ceremony was just another reminder of the tremendous losses my family endured.  I knew it was a painful flashback to my wife’s sudden and tragic death.  But I still had my mother at the time, and I could only imagine how painful it was for my son and daughter as they watched a carefully crafted, loving collage of photos of other mothers and their children.  To make it worse, the barrage of pictures had a soundtrack of “sappy” music meant to evoke an emotional response.  My gut response was to grab my children and exit the church sanctuary, flee into the parking lot, load up the car and head for the shelter of our home, but I didn’t.   I just endured the experience.

Some Mother’s Days my family had just stayed at home to avoid the experience.  I was tempted to play hooky from church again, but one Sunday before Mother’s Day something in me told me that I needed to let the church leadership know how I and my children felt on Mother’s Day without our family’s mother.  Surely there were others who had lost their mother and felt the same way.  Maybe we could honor mothers in a different way that was less distressing for those mourning the loss of a mother.

I saw the minister walking to his office after the service, and I knew what I had to do.  I stopped him and asked if I could request a favor.  “This Sunday could we do something special for those who don’t have their mothers with them anymore?” I asked.

The minister’s face softened as he said, “Well, I don’t know, Larry.  Let me talk with the staff and see what we can do.”  The minister knew our story because he had spoken at Cindy and Katie’s double funeral

I walked away feeling relieved that I had let someone know how I felt.  Maybe things would change, and maybe they wouldn’t.  At least I had made my needs known.

On Mother’s Day much to my dismay the traditional collage of pictures of mothers and children and the “sappy” music began.  I have to admit that I was disappointed.  The usual painful feelings and the hurt for my children returned.  Maybe I had not given the minister and the church staff enough lead time to make a change in how we observed Mother’s Day.  The pictures and the music seemed to go on forever.

Then the pictures and music stopped.  Before my family could get seated, the minister stepped up to the pulpit and said, “Now I would like to ask all those of you who no longer have your mother with you in this life to please stand as we say a prayer over you.”

“Dear Father God,” the minister said as we and others around the sanctuary remained standing. “We thank you for the blessings of mothers in our lives.  At this time though we pray a special blessing and care for those standing now who no longer have their mothers in their lives…..”

As I began to cry, my knees buckled, but I made an extra special effort to remain standing in honor of my children’s mother and my wife.

The minister continued, “Be with them today and watch over them.  Let them remember the wonderful gifts that their loving, sacrificing mothers have given them.  Fill their hearts with gratitude for their mother as they review the special memories of their mother’s life.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.”

I looked through tears at my children with their heads bowed in prayer, and I thought how proud their mother must be of them.  That was the best Mother’s Day ever.

Written by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  and the Spanish version “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble . Also available for Kindle and Nook. Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX http://grief-works.org.

Written by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  available online at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Never-LPC-S-Larry-Barber/dp/1613796005 ), Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-never-dies-lpc-s-ct-larry-m-barber-ct-larry-m/1104364890?ean=9781613796016).

The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” 

Both English and Spanish versions are available for Kindle and Nook. Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX  http://grief-works.org.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Over Twenty Years…And Still Grieving?

Over twenty years ago!  I can’t believe that this month May 2015 marks the 22nd anniversary of the deaths of my 37-year-old wife Cindy and my two-year-old adopted daughter Katie.  Twenty two years!  That’s nine years longer than the 13 years Cindy and I were married before her death.  They have both been gone from my life much longer than they were in my life.

I cannot believe that 22 years have passed.  And I cannot believe still that they actually died.  Along the way the time often has seemed like an eternity.  At other times during the grief journey it has felt to me like the losses had just taken place.  That is the strange, warped time perception that exists in grief.

Have I progressed?  Have I healed?  Am I where I’m supposed to be in my grief journey?  I don’t know.  Grief has been a part of my life for so long it is almost hard to imagine what it was like before that day – May 15, 1993 – when a multi-car  accident in Arlington Texas changed my life and my family so drastically.  Sometimes I wonder if grief hasn’t become too familiar to me.

Things continue to change drastically in my life and for my family but at a much slower pace now.  My children, Christian and Sarah, are mature adults living lives successfully on their own.  That’s as it should be.  I am proud of them and what they have become.  I am now a grief counselor and minister, two professions that I probably never would’ve chosen had the accident and the deaths not occurred.  Well-wishers and encouragers have told me that I am so blessed that God has made it possible for me to have a ministry to those struggling in grief.  I am blessed, and I thank God for my blessings every day.  But deep in my heart I know that I would gladly trade this ministry to have my wife Cindy and my daughter Katie back with me physically.

Just like every other mourner I have to learn to accept the reality of the deaths and my losses that my soul and my heart continually cry out in denial and protest over…even after 22 years.  I have accepted my new reality, but I still don’t have to like it.  Does that make me pathological in my grief?  Does that mean I am abnormal and suffering with complications that need professional help?  I don’t think so, but sometimes when I’m very tired and had enough of the grief, I wonder.

Grief is the overwhelming love for a person no longer physically present.  Mourning in healthy ways after the deaths of loved ones honors their valuable lives.  I never want to stop remembering, honoring and loving my wife Cindy and my daughter Katie.  Therefore the overwhelming love in my heart for them even in their absence must be expressed.  That overwhelming love comes out in my continuing grief.

22 years this May 15th. This anniversary is a milestone I would much rather forget.  But it is a milestone that helps to remind me of how far my family and I have come.  This twentieth anniversary is also a milestone that helps me to remember, to honor and to mourn the loss of two valuable people.  Please believe me that as much as I hate my grief journey, I know that my grief and my life well lived are the best monuments I can build to my wife and daughter.

I pray that God will continue to bless me and my family as long as the grief journey continues.

Written by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  available online at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Never-LPC-S-Larry-Barber/dp/1613796005 ), Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-never-dies-lpc-s-ct-larry-m-barber-ct-larry-m/1104364890?ean=9781613796016).

The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” 

Both English and Spanish versions are available for Kindle and Nook. Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX  http://grief-works.org.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments