Tag Archives: grief process

My Goal: Helping Others Achieve a More Fulfilling and Joyful Life


While I was attacking the grief process, I ran onto someone who really opened my eyes.  She is a woman who lost her husband when he was only 33 years old when they had a four year old son.  They had just relocated to a new home.  The second day she woke up to find her husband dead in bed next to her.  You can appreciate that this had devastating results on her and her four year old son.  Being a writer by trade and always maintaining a personal journal, she documented her feelings and wrote down what was going on in her life on a daily basis.

Because of the nature of his death and the early stage in their life together this had a devastating impact on her.  It took her 10 years to work her way through her personal grief process.  Being a writer by trade she decided to put her diary in book form.  It was published about 12 years after her husband’s death.  It is titled From Heartbreak to Happiness®.

The success from this book and the feedback she received from so many people that it had touched caused her to found a new endeavor that she called the Grief Coach Academy®.  This was a very comprehensive program where she trained others to become grief coaches.  Being a businessman by background, I was very impressed that a totally new business could be created where nothing like it existed at the time.

During my attempt to attack the grief process associated with the loss of Gretchen, I came across some of Aurora Winter’s material on the Internet.  The more I researched Aurora and her business the more my interest was peaked.  After some very extensive research and due diligence that is part of my nature as a financial managment person, I decided that this is exactly what I wanted to do.  Even though many will wonder if this fits with my background in Corporate America, I believed that this is what I was meant to do with the rest of my life.

After many discussions with Aurora and listening to her training calls with other grief coaches in training, I can say thatAurora is one of the most heart-centered, warm people I have ever met.  She is has very good interpersonal skills and has the first hand experience of struggling with her own grief process.  A more formal description of Aurora Winter follows:

 Aurora Winter is a popular speaker, trainer, coach, and guest on radio and TV. Aurorais the founder of the Grief Coach Academy®. She is passionate about helping others enhance happiness.

A former TV producer, Aurora Winter is the author of From Heartbreak to Happiness®, which has been endorsed by Dr. Wayne Dyer. Her latest book, Encouraging Words, will be available December 2011.

It plays directly into my long-time focus on wanting to help others.  In addition, my interpersonal and communication skill sets would help me in this new career.  If it is possible for a former Chief Financial Officer to be heart-centered, that is exactly what describes me as a person.  So I enrolled in the Grief Coach Academy® and I am in the process of undergoing this top quality training program that will allow me to help others and create a new career for myself.  The following bible verse has a very special meaning for me.

 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD,

“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,

plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

 

 

 

 

 

 

Videos to Help those Who Are Dealing with Grief/Loss


The below videos are meant to be both a tribute to my departed wife, Gretchen, and a way to express my grief of losing her.  These are also a way for me to work through the grief process with the knowledge that I will be able to return to a normal life even though I will remember her always.   Maybe you know someone who has suffered a loss of a loved one.  Please forward this to them.  I believe it will help them.

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Dealing With Grief – http://youtu.be/k5MAempWUWI

Good Grief – Life After Loss - http://youtu.be/6-Tj_2BJXy0

Grief counseling for grief support, Aurora Winter -http://youtu.be/G08nRaQlT4w (this is who I have studied under to become a grief coach)

Aurora Winter ‘Myths About Grief’ – http://youtu.be/stDu0F1R9sw

How To Deal With Losing Someone – http://youtu.be/PaLVQXtGRWs

In The Arms Of The Angels – http://youtu.be/SnL1e4-NfaA

CITYOF ANGELS – FALLENhttp://youtu.be/VaPO5qiIjAI

When You’re Gone – Avril Lavignehttp://youtu.be/0G3_kG5FFfQ

IRIS – GOO GOO DOLLShttp://youtu.be/EXEfg4-9BnY

Beth Nielsen Chapman – Sand and Water  – http://youtu.be/qspKCpCJKA4

3 Doors Down & Sara Evans – Here Without You – http://youtu.be/6BQoJDHZsGM

‘Titanic’ Theme Songhttp://youtu.be/saalGKY7ifU

Time To Say Goodbye Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightmanhttp://youtu.be/QbN0g8-zbdY        

Josh Groban – You Are Loved [Don't Give Up] http://youtu.be/EGLSk3AVcUU

Wish You Were Here – Avril Lavigne - http://youtu.be/VT1-sitWRtY

How I Attacked Grief Process After Loss of My Wife


Breast Cancer Strikes

I was married to Gretchen for 40 years.  In 2007, Gretchen was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She has a lumpectomy followed by radiation therapy.  Then a year later the breast cancer returned and we decided that a bi-lateral mastectomy was the way to address this life threatening disease that affects so many women.  This was followed by extensive chemotherapy and radiation.

 

We met with the doctors, including two cosmetic surgeons, to decide if she should have breast reconstruction.  It was determined that this was not an option because of the damage that was done by the surgery and the extensive post operative treatment.  The result…….Gretchen was left with a body that was foreign to both her and me.  For the next three years she was “cancer free”.

 

“The greatest wealth is health.”

 ~Virgil

 

Sell Family Home and Downsize

In July 2011, we sold the house that we had built 27 years earlier and the place where we raised our two sons.  This was a major life event and was hard on both of us but especially Gretchen.  She had even told me a few times that she “wanted to die in this house”.  After the sale of our home, we downsized into a very nice town home in a neighboring suburb ofChicago.  We were not in our new home for more than a few days when Gretchen’s health started to fail.  I took her to a hospital when her condition had deteriorated to the point where I believed she needed medical care.

 

Death of My Wife

Gretchen was in the hospital only one week when she passed away.  This was a great shock to me and everyone who knew Gretchen.  She was 63 years old and should have been around a lot longer to enjoy the various life events to come.  One of these was that we found out only two weeks before Gretchen’s death was that our 29 year old son and his wife were expecting their first child in April 2012.  This would be our first grandchild.  Also our 31 year old son is going to be married in June 2012.  It is too bad that she was going to miss these big time life events.

 

The reason that Gretchen’s end came so quick was because whatever cancer she had decided to metastasis throughout her entire body.  When she died she had cancer in most of her internal organs, her bones and in the membrane around her brain.  It was a blessing for Gretchen that the end came so quick and she did not have to suffer very long.

 

However, for those of us she left behind, this was tough to handle.  Gretchen was always very active.  We would play golf at least once a week and had many close friends in the area with whom we socialized.  We also loved to travel to see our sons, other family members or just taking vacations to some of our favorite places.  It was very difficult seeing her lying in the hospital bed in a non-responsive almost comatose state.  When she passed away all of her family and a few close friends were around her.

 

“Good-night! good-night! as we so oft have said
Beneath this roof at
midnight, in the days
That are no more, and shall no more return.
Thou hast but taken up thy lamp and gone to bed;
I stay a little longer, as one stays
To cover up the embers that still burn.”
~Henry
Wadsworth Longfellow

 

The Questions Start – Are There Any Good Answers?

The early death of Gretchen has affected many people.  Those closest to her, Erik, Mark and me, her husband of 40 years, are the ones who had the toughest time dealing with this loss.  Why did God let this happen to Gretchen?  Why did this terrible disease have to pick my wife and their mother?  What was I going to do going forward without her?  Remember, we had spent almost every day of the last 45 years together.

 

Why couldn’t she have been given some more time so she could see her first grandchild and hold him or her in her arms?  She was such a great mother; she would have also been an excellent grandmother.  Then there was the wedding of our oldest son, Erik, that was only nine months off.  Who am I going to walk down the aisle with and who is going to go up to the altar with the bride’s mother to light the unity candles?  The answer is probably me in both instances.

 

My Reaction after Gretchen’s Death

The wake and funeral are just a blur now.  I remember having so many people ask me how I could be so strong.  For the month after her death I only remember shedding a few tears at the wake when I ran into someone I hadn’t seen in a long time and they said something that started a few tears rolling down my face.  During these few weeks after my wife’s death I constantly asked myself why I did not show more emotion after the death of my wife of 40 years.

 

I am the type of person who does not just sit idly by and let the grief process have its way with me.  I have a proactive personality and wanted to attack this thing they call the Grief Process.  So I joined a group grief share program at my church.  I started going on a weekly basis.  It was mostly me and older women who had lost their husbands over the last few years.  One thing that I did find out is that my non emotional reaction was not uncommon.

 

One of the women running this program calls this Divine Anesthesia.  Whether this comes from the Lord or from within the body, this will occur to allow us to get through the immediate period of time after a loved one’s death when there are many things to attend to and a lot of thoughts going through my head.  I can personally attest to this because there were times weeks later that I would run into a mutual friend and I would ask them if they came to the wake and/or the funeral.  This was usually met with a blank stare then they would inform me that they were there.  So I guess I was in a fog initially.

 

“Life is eternal and love is immortal;

And death is only a horizon,

And a horizon is nothing

save the limit of our sight.”

- Rossiter W. Raymond

 

 

Finally I Break Down and Show Some Emotion

About four weeks after Gretchen is gone I decide to redo some pictures in my wallet.  I have a practice of carrying pictures of my family in my wallet as many people do.  Upon printing these out I was hit with a major sense of loss.  At the same time, the tears start rolling and I begin to sob like a baby, or better yet like someone who had just lost the love of my life.

 

This lasted for a few days.  It was not constant but it was very intense and frequent.  Near the end of this period and after, I started to feel like a cleansed man.  I still had other tearful moments but nothing like the initial intense mournful days.  I have heard someone that I have grown to respect, Aurora Winter, refer to this as, “Tears are like Spring rains that come to wash away all the stuff left over from Winter so the Spring flowers can grow”.

 

“Tears are the silent language of grief.”

 –Voltaire

                                                                              

“There is a sacredness in tears.

They are not the mark of weakness, but of power.

They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues.

They are messengers of overwhelming grief…

and unspeakable love.”

 –Washington Irving

 

 

How I Attacked Grief

I have always been a very positive, glass half full type of person.  So shortly after this period of emotional release I went on the Internet and assembled two lists of videos.  One was made up of motivational/inspirational videos and the other grief-related videos.  Initially, I put these videos together to assist me in dealing with my loss of Gretchen.  They were meant to help me start to work through the grief process.  But after these lists were completed I thought there were others out there who this would help.  So I sent them to my family and close friends and told them to send this information to anyone they thought were going through some tough times and could be helped by this material.

(See the article titled Motivational and Grief-Oriented Videos)

 

 

 

This is how I ran into Aurora Winter, who is the author of From Heartbreak to Happiness®.   This is the account of her feelings and reaction after she wakes up and finds her 33 year husband, who was also her business partner, dead in bed next to her.  At that time they had a 4 year old son.  Aurora went on to found the Grief Coaching Academy®, where she trains others to become grief coaches so they can start their own businesses providing coaching or counseling to clients who have suffered serious losses.

 

 

 

“He that conceals his grief

 finds no remedy for it”. –Turkish Proverb

“To spare oneself from grief at all cost

can be achieved only at the price of total detachment,

which excludes the ability to experience happiness.”—Erich Fromm

The Five Stages of Grief


If you or someone you love is suffering through the grief process, please pick up at least a couple of the above books.  They were written by experts in this field.  In fact, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross was a Swiss American psychiatrist who specialized in near-death studies.  She is the author of the groundbreaking book On Death and Dying(1969), where she first discussed what is now known as the Kübler-Ross model, which documents the five stages of grief -

  • Denial — “I feel fine.”; “This can’t be happening, not to me.” Denial is usually only a temporary defense for the individual. This feeling is generally replaced with heightened awareness of possessions and individuals that will be left behind after death.
  • Anger — “Why me? It’s not fair!”; “How can this happen to me?”; ‘”Who is to blame?” Once in the second stage, the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue. Because of anger, the person is very difficult to care for due to misplaced feelings of rage and envy.
  • Bargaining — “I’ll do anything for a few more years.”; “I will give my life savings if…” The third stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow postpone or delay death. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. Psychologically, the individual is saying, “I understand I will die, but if I could just do something to buy more time…”
  • Depression — “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “I’m going to die soon so what’s the point… What’s the point?”; “I miss my loved one, why go on?” During the fourth stage, the dying person begins to understand the certainty of death. Because of this, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time crying and grieving. This process allows the dying person to disconnect from things of love and affection. It is not recommended to attempt to cheer up an individual who is in this stage. It is an important time for grieving that must be processed.
  • Acceptance — “It’s going to be okay.”; “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.” In this last stage, individuals begin to come to terms with their mortality, or that of a loved one, or other tragic event.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross was a psychiatrist and author.  Throughout her career she wrote more than 20 books dealing with the natural phenomenon of dying; the first, and best-known, “On Death and Dying,” was released in 1969. This book introduced the five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These stages are now associated with any major loss or life-changing experience. Her work was instrumental in strengthening the hospice movement in the United States and made the study of the psychological, social, and physical issues associated with dying an important and accepted part of medical training. She was the recipient of twenty honorary degrees in science, law, humanities, and divinity. In 1999, she was one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Important Thinkers of the Century.” In 2007 she was inducted into the National Woman’s Hall of Fame.

I hope this material is helpful in addressing some of the issues surrounding the process of grieving.  These books are meant to be a supplement to the counseling that is provided by an individual who is trained to help individuals work through the grieving process so they can return to a fulfilling and joyful life.

Books to Aid the Healing Process


There are many books that are devoted to providing guidance and help when dealing with the grieving process that is the result of some major life event such as, the loss of a spouse, parent, child, divorce and your job.  Below is a list of the books that I would recommend on this subject.  The material in these books is helpful but it is best to be viewed as supplemental to receiving professional counseling from someone who is trained to deal within this area of specialization.  At the end of each book in below listing is a link that will take you to Amazon.com if you wish to find out more about each book and for you to order those you would like.

I hope this material is helpful in addressing some of the issues surrounding the process of grieving. These books are meant to be a supplement to the counseling that is provided by an individual who is trained to help individuals work through the grieving process so they can return to a fulfilling and joyful life.

Helping Others Achieve Fulfilling and Joyful Life


While I was attacking the grief process I ran onto someone who really opened my eyes.  She is a woman who lost her husband when he was only 33 years old when they had a four year old son.  They had just relocated to a new home.  The second day she woke up to find her husband dead in bed next to her.  You can appreciate that this had devastating results on her and her four year old son.  Being a writer by trade and always maintaining a personal journal, she documented her feelings and wrote down what was going on in her life on a daily basis.

Because of the nature of his death and the early stage in their life together this had a devastating impact on her.  It took her 10 years to work her way through her personal grief process.  Being a writer by trade she decided to put her diary in book form.  It was published about 12 years after her husband’s death.  It is titled From Heartbreak to Happiness®.

The success from this book and the feedback she received from so many people that it had touched caused her to found a new endeavor that she called the Grief Coach Academy®.  This was a very comprehensive program where she trained others to become grief coaches.  Being a businessman by background, I was very impressed that a totally new business could be created where nothing like it existed at the time.

During my attempt to attack the grief process associated with the loss of Gretchen, I came across some of Aurora Winter’s material on the Internet.  The more I researchedAuroraand her business the more my interest was peaked.  Eventually, I decided that this is exactly what I wanted to do.  Even though many will wonder if this fits with my background in Corporate America, I believed that this is what I was meant to do with the rest of my life.

After many discussions withAuroraand listening to her training calls with other grief coaches in training, I can say thatAurorais one of the most heart-centered, warm people I have ever met.  She is has very good interpersonal skills and has the first hand experience of struggling with her own grief process.  A more formal description of Aurora Winter follows:

Aurora Winter is a popular speaker, trainer, coach, and guest on radio and TV. Aurorais the founder of the Grief Coach Academy®. She is passionate about helping others enhance happiness.

A former TV producer, Aurora Winter is the author of From Heartbreak to Happiness®, which has been endorsed by Dr. Wayne Dyer. Her latest book, Encouraging Words, will be available December 2011.

It plays directly into my long-time focus on wanting to help others.  In addition, my interpersonal and communication skill sets would help me in this new career.  If it is possible for a former Chief Financial Officer to be heart-centered, that is exactly what describes me as a person.  So I enrolled in the Grief Coach Academy® and I am in the process of undergoing this top quality training program that will allow me to help others and create a new career for myself.

 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD,

“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,

plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11