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.
© 2014 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.
The Boston Marathon Bombing, The Aftermath: Loss of Life, Loss of Safety, Loss of Trust, and Loss of Innocence
April 15, 2013, the date of the Boston Marathon bombing, joins the list of dates we’d rather not remember, but we can’t forget. It takes its sad Read More »
Post-Holiday, Grief-Related Blues!
Logically, for many grieving people, the holidays are difficult enough, especially the first season after someone important to them has died. But Read More »
Not following impulses leads to unfinished emotional business—aka Unresolved Grief!
Today I feel compelled to write about a personal loss, that just happens to be one of the national obituaries currently featured on the home page of Read More »
Newtown, Connecticut—Our Grief, Because We Are The Family Of Humankind
Certain events have the power to propel us into an emotional numbness, as if a hidden thermostat inside our hearts shuts us off. The pain is too much Read More »
Veterans Day—Lest We Forget
In its day, World War One was called "The War to End All Wars." Sadly, it wasn't. WW I officially ended on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day Read More »
Dealing with Grief During the Holidays
Dealing with Grief During the Holidays While there are other critical dates and times that affect grieving people, the holiday season is the biggest Read More »
We Never Forget The Important People In Our Lives.
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
In Crying—Part One, we focused on the idea that it can be dangerous and counterproductive to attach our personal ideas and beliefs to how other Read More »
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 Read More »
9/11: The Aftermath, Loss of Life, Loss of Safety, Loss of Trust, and Loss of Innocence
By Russell FriedmanSeptember 11, 2001 now lives in our language in the same emotional way as December 7, 1941 and November 22, 1963. Nearly everyone Read More »
Am I Going Crazy?—An all-too frequent question from grievers.
“Since my mother’s death, I’ve had the experience of being in one room, deciding to go to another room to do something, and when I get there, I Read More »
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
In mid-April there are two things you can count on in the United States. One is the due date for filing your tax return. The other is the arrival of Read More »
BECAUSE WE ARE THE FAMILY OF HUMANKIND
BECAUSE WE ARE THE FAMILY OF HUMANKIND [March 11, 2011]At 11:15 PM on March 10th, 2011, my heart was burning and my stomach was churning. I was Read More »
Am I Paranoid, Or Are People Really Avoiding Me?
The simple answer to the question posed in the title of this article is, “No, you’re not paranoid, people really may be avoiding you.” Even Read More »
Valentine’s Day—For Many, The Most Painful Holiday
The traditional Holiday Season begins around Halloween, continues through Thanksgiving, crests with Christmas and Hanukkah, and ends with New Read More »
Our Reaction to The Tucson Tragedy – Because We Are the Family of Humankind!
Within a two year span, from February 1, 2003 to December 26, 2004, we used the title “Because We Are the Family of Humankind!” for articles we Read More »
Uh-oh, it’s that time again. Grief and the holidays
Many Grievers Wish They Could Skip The Holidays And Jump From Late October To Mid-January The holidays are approaching. A joyous time. A festive time Read More »
Stages of Grief: Are There Actual Stages Of Grief?
Is there any truth behind the idea that grief and loss recovery comes in stages?We are often asked if there are actual stages of grief or grieving. Read More »
Is It Ever Too Soon To Recover?
Conflicting opinions from a wide variety of sources confuse the question of when to begin a process of completing what was left emotionally Read More »
Why Won’t Anyone Let Me Feel Sad?
If we were forced to quantify the problems grieving people encounter, there’s no doubt the number one offense they must confront is being told that Read More »
Six Major Myths – The Short Version
There are six major myths about grief that are so close to universal that nearly everyone can relate to them. This is true not only for those of us Read More »
Do I Have to Cry To Grieve?
"My father died recently. I have been very sad, but I have not cried. Do I have to cry to grieve?"That is a question we get all the time from people Read More »
When Your Heart Is Broken, Your Head Doesn’t Work Right And Your Spirit May Not Soar
For most people, the immediate response to the death of someone important to them is a sense of numbness. After that initial numbness wears off, the Read More »
If I Start Crying Will I Be Able To Stop?
Grieving people sometimes hold back their tears based on the fear that if they start crying, they won’t be able to stop. To the best of our Read More »
Time Doesn't Heal - Actions Do
I have heard that it takes two years to get over the death of a loved one, five years to get over the death of a parent, and you never get over the Read More »
I’m Fine And Other Lies!!!
Approximately 20% of your ability to communicate is verbal, leaving about 80% as non-verbal. Non-verbal communication includes tone of voice as well Read More »
Normal and Natural reactions to the death of someone important to you.
Grief is the wide range of normal and natural reactions to the death of someone important to you. The seven most common reactions are: Read More »
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.
December 2013Houston, TX - December 6 - 9, 2013
Louisville, KY - December 6 - 9, 2013
Tampa, FL - December 6 - 9, 2013
Toronto, ON - December 6 - 9, 2013
January 2014Phoenix, AZ - January 17 - 20, 2014
Los Angeles, CA - January 24 - 27, 2014
Vancouver, BC - January 24 - 27, 2014
Columbus, OH - January 24 - 27, 2014