John W. James
Founder of The Grief Recovery Institute®
Co-Author of The Grief Recovery
Handbook & When Children Grieve
Co-Author of The Grief Recovery
Handbook & When Children Grieve
Where were you when I needed you?
The saddest question we ever hear is, "Where were you when I needed you?"
That's what people ask when they find out what we do in helping grievers. We're presenting helpful and accurate information on this site, at the time you need it most, with the hope that you'll never need to ask that question.
It's an honor and a sad privilege to be addressing you, knowing that each of you has recently experienced the death of someone important to you. We also know some of you are reading this because of your care and concern for someone who is confronted by the death of someone important in their life.
We bring our personal experience in dealing with the deaths of people who were important to us, and our professional know-how in helping grievers for more than 30 years. We'll help you distinguish between the "raw grief" that is your normal and natural reaction to the death, and the equally normal "unresolved grief" that relates to the unfinished emotions that are part of the physical ending of all relationships.
A basic reality for most grieving people is difficulty concentrating or focusing. With that in mind, we asked Tributes.com to print our articles in a large type font to make them easier to read. Sharing our concern for grieving people, they agreed.
From our hearts to yours,
John & Russell
Articles & Media
On Crying—Part One
Almost everyone has some questions and confusion about crying. How much crying is enough? If I start crying, will I be able to stop? Do I have to cry at all? I've cried and cried but I still don't feel better, is there something wrong with me? Are men and women different when it comes to crying? We will address these and other questions in this two part series on crying. We had intended this to be a single article, but as it unfolded we realized that it needed more than a little space to do it justice. Do not be alarmed if you recognize yourself in some of the scenarios highlighted here. A common call to the Grief Recovery Institute starts like this: "My Mom died several months ago, and I'm very worried about my Dad." This statement is made by a young man or woman who is concerned about the well-being of their father. In the ensuing conversation, we determine that although the caller believes that Dad is devastated by the death of his spouse, Dad has not cried "yet." We have put the word yet in quotes to illustrate the son or daughter's obvious belief that in order to grieve you must cry. [The fact is that the son or daughter has not seen him cry. That does not mean that Dad has not cried in private, and has not or will not talk about it]. The well-meaning offspring is concerned, because they believe that there is an absolute and direct correlation between grief and crying. When asked if they think that Dad's heart is broken, they always respond that they are sure that it is. We ask them, "Where is it written that you must cry when you are sad?" We do not ask that question to be mean spirited, merely to illustrate that the caller may be laboring under a terrible mis-apprehension that tears must accompany sad feelings.
A common call to the Grief Recovery Institute starts like this: "My Mom died several months ago, and I'm very worried about my Dad." This statement is made by a young man or woman who is concerned about the well-being of their father. In the ensuing conversation, we determine that although the caller believes that Dad is devastated by the death of his spouse, Dad has not cried "yet." We have put the word yet in quotes to illustrate the son or daughter's obvious belief that in order to grieve you must cry. [The fact is that the son or daughter has not seen him cry. That does not mean that Dad has not cried in private, and has not or will not talk about it].
The well-meaning offspring is concerned, because they believe that there is an absolute and direct correlation between grief and crying. When asked if they think that Dad's heart is broken, they always respond that they are sure that it is. We ask them, "Where is it written that you must cry when you are sad?" We do not ask that question to be mean spirited, merely to illustrate that the caller may be laboring under a terrible mis-apprehension that tears must accompany sad feelings.
Let us pose a couple of other questions here, as we do in person or on the telephone. Have you ever known anyone who cries all the time, but never seems to change or grow? Have you ever known anyone who uses crying as a manipulation to get something? There is a high probability that you will answer yes to both questions. Both of those questions are designed to explain the fact that crying, in and of itself, does not necessarily lead to completion of the pain caused by death, divorce, or any other losses. At best, crying acts as a short term energy relieving action, and temporarily relieves some of the emotional energy generated by the loss. We know of people who have been crying over the same loss, daily, for years and years. We know that the crying has not helped them complete what is emotionally incomplete in their relationship with the person who died, or the person from whom they are divorced.
As our society has evolved, we have seen a quantum shift in the public display of emotion. In today's world, it is not at all unlikely to see a retiring professional athlete, often the paragon of "masculinity," weeping openly in a televised press conference. It is hard to imagine that same scenario occurring thirty or forty years ago. Yet now, most of us don't give a passing thought to that display.
But if your male parent is 70 years old or older, he is more likely to be affected by different beliefs about the open display of emotions than you are. Even your female parent is liable to be less willing to communicate sad, painful, or negative emotions than you. You must fight the trap of applying your emotional value system to others. It may seem odd, since your parents taught you, that you have different emotional views than they do. In Crying—Part 2, which will appear in this space in a few weeks, we will address issues of gender and the underlying keys to recovery based on the uniqueness of each individual relationship.
Question: If I start crying will I be able to stop?
Answer: In our more than twenty years of helping grieving people, we have never seen anyone who has been unable to stop crying.
© 2015 Russell P. Friedman, John W. James and The Grief Recovery Institute®. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint this and other articles please contact The Grief Recovery Institute at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone, 800-334-7606.
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The 4th of July—Another Reminder of Those Who Are No Longer Here
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The Boston Marathon Bombing, The Aftermath: Loss of Life, Loss of Safety, Loss of Trust, and Loss of Innocence
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Post-Holiday, Grief-Related Blues!
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Veterans Day—Lest We Forget
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Dealing with Grief During the Holidays
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We recently received a note from a woman named Linda, who had a child die, and who interacts with other parents who’ve also experienced the death Read More »
On Crying—Part Two
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On Crying—Part One
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9/11: The Aftermath, Loss of Life, Loss of Safety, Loss of Trust, and Loss of Innocence
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Am I Going Crazy?—An all-too frequent question from grievers.
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Father’s Day 2013 - My Dad, Babe Ruth, and the Ball That’s Still in Orbit
In the kind of emotional reviews our minds and hearts make on chronicling days like Father’s Day, we often discover a level of appreciation that Read More »
What a Difference a Day Makes—Lest We Forget!
Memorial Day as we know it today began as Decoration Day in 1866, in upstate New York, after the cessation of the Civil War. First conceived as an Read More »
Mother’s Day! Remind Me—Remind Me Not—Remind Me
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Do I Have to Cry To Grieve?
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If I Start Crying Will I Be Able To Stop?
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I’m Fine And Other Lies!!!
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If you or someone important to you wants help with grief: Look for a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist℠ in your community. The Grief Recovery Institute ® trains and mentors Certified Grief Recovery Specialists℠ throughout the United States & Canada.
Workshops & Training Schedule
The Grief Recovery Institute ® offers Certification Training programs for those who wish to help grievers.
June 2015Birmingham, AL - June 5-8, 2015
Adelaide, SA, Australia - June 11-14, 2015
Minneapolis, MN - June 12-15, 2015
Sacramento, CA - June 12-15, 2015
Toronto, ON, Canada - June 26-29, 2015
Guadalajara, Jal, Mexico -June 26-29, 2015
Dallas, TX - June 26-29, 2015
May 2015Los Angeles, CA - May 15-18, 2015
Indianapolis, IN - May 15-18, 2015
Leeds, UK - May 15-18, 2015
Brisbane, QLD, Australia - May 21-24, 2015
Mexico City, DF, Mexico -May 29-June 1,'15
Vancouver, BC, Canada - May 29-June 1,'15