Statistics About Grief

Average Grief Period – 5 to 8 Years

There is a very eye-opening statistic on the grief process.  This was reported in the January 9, 2005 issue of Time Magazine in an article by Claudia Wallis titled “The New Science of Happiness”.  This was based on a study by Edward Diener, who is an American psychologist, professor, and author. He is noted for his research over the past twenty-five years on happiness — the measurement of well-being; temperament and personality influences on well-being; theories of well-being; income and well-being; and cultural influences on well-being.

According to Diener, two events in a persons life with the greatest impact were shown to be loss of a spouse (taking 5-8 years for recovery) and loss of a job.  This is a significant part of one’s life to be stuck in limbo.  If there were a way to address the grief process that would reduce this to a much shorter period of time, wouldn’t we opt for this in a heartbeat?

Baby Boomers Facing Grief More Frequently 

The baby boomer generation is defined as someone  who was born during the demographic Post-World War II baby boom and who grew up during the period between 1946 and 1964.  This would make these baby boomers between 47 and 65


Source: U.S. Birth Rate – 1909 – 2003

At present it is estimated that there are about 80 million baby boomers in the U.S. today.  Because of their age, they are increasingly facing the death of their parents or their spouse.  This translates to a very big increase in the number of people who have or will be faced with the grief process.  The estimate of how many of these baby boomers who are currently suffering from grief because of the death or divorce is about 5 million.

If you or someone you care about is suffering from grief because of a major personal loss, wouldn’t it be better for them to seek out professional help.  It has been proven that this type of coaching, counseling or whatever you want to call it can help the person to deal with the grief process in the best possible way.  And if this results in this person being able to return to a productive, fulfilling and joy filled lifestyle, wouldn’t it be worth it?


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







What Has Happened to Corporate America?

During my long career I have been able to witness the transformation of Corporate America.  Long ago companies had a sense of loyalty to their employees.  This, in turn, contributed to the same feeling by the employees to the companies they worked for.  Sad to say, this is not the situation in Corporate America now.

Now the bottom line is the all important measurement tool of a company’s success, especially if it is a public company that is reporting earnings on a quarterly basis.  If profits are not at the level that top management, its shareholders and the investment analysts believe is acceptable, the first action that companies take now is to have a series of downsizings.  This has led to a transformation of Corporate America that makes life difficult for everyone.

So often corporate America, business America,

are the worst communicators,

because all they understand are facts,

and they cannot tell a story.

They know how to explain their quarterly results,

but they don’t know how to explain what they mean.
Frank Luntz

Another factor that is very prevalent in Corporate America is age discrimination.  This is manifested in early retirement programs that companies offer their senior employees so they can get these higher compensated individuals off the company payroll.  A related factor is that people are not able to retire when they had planned because of a series of market setbacks that have eroded their retirement assets.  But this creates a “Catch 22” situation.  These more senior employees want and need to work longer than they were intending; however, at the same time Corporate America is trying to get these individuals off their payroll and shy away from hiring these more experienced individuals.  No wonder these older workers are becoming increasingly frustrated. 

“Discrimination due to age is one of the great tragedies of modern life.

The desire to work and be useful is what makes life worth living,

and to be told your efforts are not needed

because you are the wrong age is a crime.”
Johnny Ball


In Remembrance of My Wife, Gretchen

Below is a message I gave at the funeral of my wife, Gretchen:

I have been blessed to know Gretchen for 45 years and been married to her for 40 years.  Gretchen and I had many good times together, but just as other couples, there were some rough spots along the way.   I can easily say that some of those speed bumps were my fault but we moved down the path of life and became closer because of these obstacles thrown in our way. 

Gretchen was a great mother to our two sons, Erik and Mark, and developed a close relationship to Lindsey and Aneta, who we consider as the two daughters we never had.  During our boys growing years and beyond, she devoted her whole heart to molding Erik and Mark into great young men.  Gretchen was good at providing a loving home for the three of us.  She was also able to instill the right amount of discipline and guidance at the same time.   

She was not without her faults as all of us can say about ourselves.  As the saying goes, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.  But she managed to work her way through these and still provide a loving home to always come back to.  Another thing that many of you have heard me say is that Gretchen is one of the most stubborn people I have ever known.  She was the type of person who said what was on her mind and that is one of the traits that we all loved about her. 

As most of you know, Gretchen was a strong woman.  How else would she have been able to make it through her two encounters with breast cancer 3 to 4 years ago?  It was this vicious disease that ultimately cut her time short on this earth. 

It will be difficult to continue without Gretchen but I have a great family and network of friends who stand ready to support Erik, Mark and me.  Another source of strength will be my reinvigorated faith.  This will help not only with the loss of Gretchen but also will bring me peace and an ability to navigate the other challenges that will come in my life. 

Gretchen, I love you and always will.  Please save me a place for when my time comes and we can be together again.  I love you baby.


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.


Dealing With Grief –

Good Grief – Life After Loss –

Grief counseling for grief support, Aurora Winter – (this is who I have studied under to become a grief coach)

Aurora Winter ‘Myths About Grief’ –

How To Deal With Losing Someone –

In The Arms Of The Angels –


When You’re Gone – Avril Lavigne


Beth Nielsen Chapman – Sand and Water  –

3 Doors Down & Sara Evans – Here Without You –

‘Titanic’ Theme Song

Time To Say Goodbye Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman        

Josh Groban – You Are Loved [Don’t Give Up]

Wish You Were Here – Avril Lavigne –

Motivational Material to Aid the Healing Process

If you ever feel that you are getting down and need some motivation to get you going again, I believe the below videos will provide you some true inspiration.  To view each video just place the cursor on the link in Blue and click, or copy and paste it into your browser.   These are some of my favorites.

Winning is a habit – best motivational video

“Be Great, Powerful Beyond Measure” –

I am a champion – the greatest speech ever –

This is How Winners Are Made – Inspirational


Josh Groban – You Raise Me Up  –

celine dion & josh groban, the prayer –

 Hero by Mariah Carey

Sara Evans – A Little Bit Stronger

Celine Dion Medley with Brian McKnight –

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.”



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.”
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.”



“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