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Growing Through Grief

No two grief journeys are alike yet there is experience and knowledge available to educate and encourage loss survivors. This information will help you know that with time, you can move beyond the trauma and not just survive...but thrive!...

Survivor Resources

The Challenge of Self-Forgiveness

The Challenge of Self-Forgiveness

Our “The Journey Onward” Men’s Group just finished our weekend retreat in Sedona. It was powerful, moving, and exhausting. We had decided as a group to make our focus self-forgiveness. That’s a pretty tall order for a weekend, but, as I’ve observed, a pretty common challenge for survivors of loss to substance abuse or suicide. We put so much responsibility on ourselves. It can be brutal and relentless. I knew I had a lot to learn, so I read, I meditated on it, and then I decided to tackle it one step at a time. First, I had to understand the relationship between shame and guilt.  They’re not the same, but they can be intertwined. Shame is about who we are – how we are inadequate, unkind,...

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Tips for Returning to Work After the Loss of a Loved One by Lucille Rosetti

Tips for Returning to Work After the Loss of a Loved One by Lucille Rosetti

Losing a loved one is heartbreaking. Grieving is tiring, hard work with no linear process or guidelines to follow. While you may take time off to mourn, you will likely have to return to work eventually. This can prove challenging for various reasons, from having trouble focusing to dealing with questions from coworkers. Read on as EricsHouse shares some tips to help you prepare for the return to work after the loss of a loved one. Plan an Answer for Questions at Work Your colleagues will likely be aware of the loss you've experienced since you probably took some time off work for a funeral or other practicalities. They may be curious and have questions. You are not required to answer any...

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Self-Discovery by Marianne Gouveia

Self-Discovery by Marianne Gouveia

Throughout my journey of grief, I continue to explore parts of myself, my identity, my beliefs, my values, and my priorities. Loss lays out entirely new ways of thinking about the mysteries of life and death. We are irrevocably changed and faced with restoring balance as we learn to integrate loss into our lives. Part of my self-discovery has been diving deep into who I am, how I want to spend my time, and examining my priorities, beliefs, and thoughts about living a life full of joy and happiness. Full of love.   This February marked 8 years without Eric. I will always miss his infectious belly laugh, kind soul, adventurous spirit, and loyal & fun nature. As each moment, day,...

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Navigate Grief with Mindfulness Using These  Helpful Practices by Lucille Rosetti

Navigate Grief with Mindfulness Using These Helpful Practices by Lucille Rosetti

Grieving is a deeply personal and complex process, one that can feel overwhelming and isolating. However, incorporating mindfulness practices into your daily routine can provide a path toward healing and acceptance. These practices can help you connect with your present experiences, allowing for a gentle processing of your emotions and fostering a sense of peace amidst the turmoil of loss. In this article, courtesy of EricsHouse, we’ll go over a few ways you can utilize mindfulness to feel better. Embrace the Harmony of Movement and Breath When you engage in yoga, you partake in a journey that unites your body and mind, offering a sanctuary of tranquility and strength. Each posture and...

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The Beauty of Spring and New Beginnings by Marianne Gouveia

The Beauty of Spring and New Beginnings by Marianne Gouveia

The start of Spring brings warmer days and beauty blooming all around. During this season I am reminded of the idea of transformation. Out of the dark days of Winter comes emerging sun and new energy. Spring symbolizes renewal, rebirth, and fresh beginnings. Losing a precious loved one naturally causes many changes in one’s identity, family dynamics, and priorities. Through this journey you will likely meet deeper vulnerabilities, thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Grief often involves going into the darkest depths of one's being. The journey does not have orderly seasons, paths, or timelines to follow. I continually observe how those who know grief are some of the most compassionate,...

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Ruminations on Grief Styles in Preparation for the Men’s Retreat by Greg Eckerman

Ruminations on Grief Styles in Preparation for the Men’s Retreat by Greg Eckerman

I’ve pondered the differences in grief styles for some time now. Starting with the premise that men and women grieve differently, then acknowledging that many men and women grieve in ways that fit those masculine or feminine patterns… but some don’t. That led to an understanding that there is a spectrum of grief styles from Instrumental (typically masculine) to Intuitive (typically feminine). In that model: no grief style is better than another; grief survivors fall all along that spectrum; those who share our losses may have very different styles, while grieving just as deeply; and that our grief styles can change over the course of our journey. As I prepare for our Men’s Retreat at the...

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Love and Grief Intertwined by  Madison Shirley

Love and Grief Intertwined by Madison Shirley

Love and grief are sacred parts of the human experience. The closeness we share with those we love creates unbreakable bonds. The dynamics of love go far beyond and deeper than words can express. Losing someone you love is heartbreaking. The many experiences and expressions of grief are also hard to sum together in words or intellectualize.  Love and grief are tightly intertwined. All of the love you have for and shared with your person continues to be held in your heart. Dr. Alan Wolfelt says: “You grieve the person’s absence and need to express your feelings of grief. You must mourn. You must commune with your grief and take it into your heart, embracing your many thoughts and feelings....

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Self-Care in the New Year by Marianne Gouveia

Self-Care in the New Year by Marianne Gouveia

What exactly is self-care and why is it so important to our mourning process? Self-care is what you do to take care of yourself – mentally, physically, and spiritually. Just as life circumstances change the way we live our lives, so do the means of taking care of ourselves. That means, there is no “one size fits all.” During grief, we are already working hard to keep our heads above water, and we find that the things that used to work, perhaps don’t work for us anymore. During intense grief, we have special needs, and it is so important not to ignore them. Research shows that there are many strategies you can adopt to help you no matter where you are in your journey. Staying Connected ...

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Granular Transformation by Greg Eckerman

Granular Transformation by Greg Eckerman

I don’t usually do New Year’s resolutions, I haven’t for a long time.  It just seems weird to save up whatever change you desire in your life for a particular date on the calendar.   Don’t get me wrong, I have lots of stuff to work on.  My grief has made me very aware of my ‘opportunities for improvement’ and added some big ones to the list. We are changed by our losses.  Irrevocably. We don’t have a choice in whether we are changed, but we do get to choose how we change.   Alan Wolfelt encourages us to appreciate our transformations.  I struggled with that for a long time.  I didn’t feel transformed. I’ve come to believe I had the scale of transformation wrong.  I was looking for...

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Honoring Memories: A Guide to Handling  a Loved One’s Belongings by Lucille Rosetti

Honoring Memories: A Guide to Handling a Loved One’s Belongings by Lucille Rosetti

The task of cleaning out a deceased loved one’s home is not just a practical challenge but an emotional journey. It involves balancing the preservation of memories with the realities of managing their belongings. This process can be overwhelming, yet it's an important step in honoring their legacy and moving forward. In this article, you'll find guidance on how to approach this sensitive task, ensuring you honor your loved one’s memory while making the process manageable. Be Sensitive When Sorting Deciding what to keep, give away, or discard from your loved one's possessions is a delicate task. It's crucial to approach this process with sensitivity and respect for their memory. Consider...

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Sibling Loss and Navigating Grief by Marianne Gouveia

Sibling Loss and Navigating Grief by Marianne Gouveia

Losing someone you love creates immense pain and it is difficult to work through our deep feelings of grief.  When you lose a sibling, you face an especially challenging journey of healing.  Regardless of where you are in the birth order – younger or older -- your experience and relationship with your sibling is unique to you.  And when they leave us too soon, we grieve.  But we are often left to grieve alone.   Dr. Alan Wolfelt, a respected author and educator on the topic of healing in grief – explains the difference between grieving and mourning .  . .  “To grieve is to experience thoughts and feelings of loss inside you. If you loved your sibling, you will grieve. To mourn is to...

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Grief, Spirituality, and the Holidays by Greg Eckerman

Grief, Spirituality, and the Holidays by Greg Eckerman

I think it’s worth taking a step back in our grief journeys as we encounter the holidays.  We need to put them in perspective. So much of the original intent behind holiday celebrations seems to get lost in our high-speed lives. The holidays get commercialized and distorted to other ends. It’s easy to lose sight of the essence. I suspect that one of the things that makes the holidays difficult for many grievers is the awareness of the triviality of much of what we currently force into our celebrations of them. In profound grief, we come to question long held beliefs and traditions – especially those relating to our spiritual lives. Suffering traumatic loss often leads us to confront and...

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The Coin by Greg Eckerman

The Coin by Greg Eckerman

When we talk about learning to embrace the pain of our losses, I often fall back on the coin metaphor. Love and the pain of loss are two sides of the same coin.  Those things which open us most to the pains of grief are rooted most deeply in love.  The objects which link us most powerfully to our loved ones are also most able to provoke the depths of our personal wilderness. Of course both sides of a coin are exactly the same size.  None of us would ever willingly reduce the pain of our grief if it meant losing any of the love behind it. And perhaps the most impactful part of the coin analogy:  learning the survival skill of dosing.  If we can hang on to the notion that our pain is a...

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Mental Health Awareness by Marianne Gouveia

Mental Health Awareness by Marianne Gouveia

May is Mental Health Awareness Month During the month of May, we honor the many people - past, present, and future -who have been impacted by mental health challenges that can often be stressful and overwhelming. When we are sick, we see our care providers knowing that they will make our bodies feel better.  We should do the same for our minds. When we feel emotional pain, stress, isolation, loss, or social inequities, it is not only harmful to our communities, it hurts our loved ones making it difficult for us to understand the challenges. Improving emotional well-being, social connectedness, and resiliency leads to  building coping skills is critical to our health. In doing some...

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Sibling Grief by Greg Eckerman

Sibling Grief by Greg Eckerman

As a grieving parent, I’m not sure I can fully understand the grief of losing a sibling.   But I have some observations to share: Children often suppress their grief in an attempt to protect their parents from the sadness of losing a child. As a society, we often try to distract younger kids from grief in the belief that we are protecting them . . . but as Alan Wolfelt says: ‘any child old enough to love is old enough to grieve.’ As parents, we had a life before our children came into it.  We have a basis for comprehending a life without the child we’ve lost, as painful as that is. When a child loses a sibling, it is very likely that they have no frame of reference for life without that...

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Could Have, Would Have, Should Have: Setting Our Intentions to Heal by Marianne Gouveia

Could Have, Would Have, Should Have: Setting Our Intentions to Heal by Marianne Gouveia

After losing my son Eric, my greatest challenge was to overcome the question of “what could I have done differently”.  These feelings would plummet me into endless cycles of guilt, regret, and self-blame.  At EricsHouse, we use the analogy of a coin – love on one side, grief on the other.  We would never give up some of our grief if it meant that we would have to forfeit some of our love.   So, I have learned to allow myself to befriend my grief, giving myself permission to learn and grow with it, allowing my experiences of loss to become part of me in a healthy way.  The experience of guilt that many face after losing our loved one offers the same opportunity – to understand our guilt so...

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10 Ways to Overcome Your Grief by Lucille Rosetti

10 Ways to Overcome Your Grief by Lucille Rosetti

Dealing with grief is challenging but inevitable at some point in your life. Grieving can last for years, weeks, months, or years; everyone's grief is different. The Recovery Village notes that grief can frequently cause sufferers to meet the criteria for major depression. However, you can overcome your grief and regain your happiness by following these tips from EricsHouse. Eat Healthy Foods Eating healthy foods is one of the best ways to overcome your grief. Eating foods with whole grains or foods high in omega-3 fatty acids can help fight depression according to HealthyPlace. In contrast, the classic Western diet — including high dairy products, butter, potatoes, and red meats —...

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Grief Fog – The Day the Squirrels Stole My Keys by Greg Eckerman

Grief Fog – The Day the Squirrels Stole My Keys by Greg Eckerman

March 19, 2016.   Eric died three weeks ago.  His funeral was two weeks ago. We have to get out of the house, too many memories, too much pain.  But where can we go?   Ahh, the cabin – our escape and our refuge.  Asylum.  I think I drove.  Someone had to have driven, our car was there . . . so were Marianne, Joey, and I.   I can’t stay inside, so I wander aimlessly through the woods around the cabin.   Thinking about how to not think. It was cold, still snow on the ground.  I go around again . . . and again. Where the hell are my keys?   I must have had keys because the car is here.  You need keys to drive a car.  Retrace my steps . . . three times, thank God for the snow.   Maybe if I...

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Donating Efficiently by Eric Ess

Donating Efficiently by Eric Ess

As the 2022 year comes to an end, donors should consider how they can efficiently maximize their charitable donations for income tax purposes.  EricsHouse is a qualifying 501(c)(3) charity to which donations qualify for a charitable deduction.  However, claiming charitable deductions has become harder as only those donors who plan to itemize their deductions for the 2022 tax year may deduct their charitable contributions.  This is different from the 2021 tax year, in which Congress temporarily allowed donors electing the standard deduction to deduct up to $300 of their charitable donations ($600 for couples).  Moreover, as the standard deduction continues to increase, now currently at...

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The First Touchstone Takeaways by Greg Eckerman

The First Touchstone Takeaways by Greg Eckerman

We were discussing Touchstone 1 (Open to the Presence of Your Loss) in our Men’s Group last week and it opened some questions for me. First, what is a touchstone?  Though I’ve read Dr Wolfelt’s writings on the 10 Touchstones for Healing in Grief, I guess I always treated touchstone as synonymous with milestone – it’s not.  Originally (as in for thousands of years), a touchstone was a smooth grained stone used to assay the purity of precious metals – often gold.  You’d rub the gold on the touchstone and compare the mark to a mark made by a known sample of gold.  More recently, the term touchstone is used as a metaphor for a standard or benchmark . . . a measure of quality or purity. In...

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What Does Reconciliation Mean? by Greg Eckerman

What Does Reconciliation Mean? by Greg Eckerman

When we talk about grief as a journey it highlights the need to understand two key things about ourselves: Where we are right now Where we hope to go Alan Wolfelt describes the objective of our personal grief journey, where we hope to go, as Reconciliation. In our current Men’s Group we are trying to explore what Reconciliation means for each of us.  It is opening up fascinating conversations centered around self-examination and self-discovery.  Reconciliation is a multifaceted concept, much like grief.  We know that grief affects all of us in 5 broad ways: Emotionally Cognitively Physically Socially Spiritually Reconciliation has aspects in each of those categories. EMOTIONALLY.  We are...

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Magical Moments in Sobriety by Barbara Nicholson Brown – Publisher, Together AZ

Magical Moments in Sobriety by Barbara Nicholson Brown – Publisher, Together AZ

As a woman in long term recovery from alcohol and drugs it’s so important I never forget how my journey began. I was chained to the dark side for over 20 years, so the first few days; even weeks without any substances were terrifying.  I had reached a point of being ‘too scared to live and too scared to die’, and was overwhelmed with guilt, shame and remorse. All the times I used drinking or drugs, I was living a lie and it was impossible for me to admit I needed help. But when the moment did arrive when my world came crashing down; the message came through loud and clear -- and I have never turned back.  Honestly there isn’t enough room on this page if I wrote out the many reasons I love...

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The Fentanyl Crisis: Awareness and Prevention by Marianne Gouveia

The Fentanyl Crisis: Awareness and Prevention by Marianne Gouveia

August 21, 2022 was national Fentanyl Awareness and Prevention day. This day was created by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to help raise awareness around the Fentanyl crisis in our country. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent that morphine. “Fentanyl is the single deadliest drug threat our nation has ever encountered,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram. “From large cities to rural America, no community is safe from the presence of fentanyl.” Here are a few quick facts: Criminal drug networks are mass-producing fake pills and falsely marketing them as legitimate prescription pills to deceive the American public....

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988 – New Mental Health Crisis Hotline Key Facts by Madison Shirley

988 – New Mental Health Crisis Hotline Key Facts by Madison Shirley

9-8-8, three digits that can be memorized with ease and quickly dialed. The new hotline has launched and it aims to strengthen the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. When someone is experiencing a mental health emergency dialing a long number and waiting to be connected is not at all ideal. These three digits are a stepping stone towards transforming the mental health care system.  The direct line will connect callers with a trained counselor or health professional in their local area. The 9 digit Lifeline number, 1-800-273-8255, remains active but calls will be routed to 988. Some key facts about the hotline include: Calls are accepted for anyone who needs support for suicidal, mental...

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Grieving Styles by Greg Eckerman

Grieving Styles by Greg Eckerman

Although it is clear that many men and women grieve differently (including my wife and I), I’ve never been comfortable with the idea that it’s just about grieving like a man or grieving like a woman.  Even the designations of masculine or feminine grieving styles feels far too simplistic . . . even a little judgmental (depending on which style you gravitate towards). But understanding our own style of grief and that of those who share the pain of our losses is important to our well-being.  If we fail to understand those differences, we could assume that those fellow survivors aren’t grieving . . . or aren’t doing it right.  We could distance ourselves from the connections we need most on...

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Creative Expression To Help With Grief by Madison Shirley

Creative Expression To Help With Grief by Madison Shirley

The arts are a tangible and sensory experience that allows one to express themselves. Creation might serve as a way to unblock, release, and illuminate emotions that may need more attention. Each individual grief journey brings forth different experiences for each loss survivor. With that being said, what helps one person cope may not help the other. Grief art is a possible outlet that could potentially provide a healing experience. Keep in mind, you should only do activities that will not be too triggering. Do your best to gauge how you’re feeling and base an activity around that. For example, if thinking too much about your loved one or touching their personal items makes you spiral into...

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Coping with Your Grief Over the Uvalde Murders by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.

Coping with Your Grief Over the Uvalde Murders by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.

Uvalde, Texas, is grieving. America is grieving. A single man has committed a crime of unimaginable violence, taking the lives of at least 21 people—19 of them children—and now an entire country is bereft. Whether you live near Uvalde or far away, whether you personally know someone connected to the tragedy or not, you are probably grieving. Because you have empathy, you are grieving on behalf of the families whose loved ones were so senselessly taken from them. In addition, you may be experiencing a loss of a sense of safety for your own family and others you care about. You may have lost a sense of goodness in the world. You might also have lost trust or pride in your country or...

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How to Support a Grieving Father This Father’s Day By Sarah Kessler

How to Support a Grieving Father This Father’s Day By Sarah Kessler

Father’s Day is all about showing love and appreciation to the amazing dads in our lives. But if you know a father who’s lost a child to suicide, substance abuse, or sudden loss, that can be easier said than done. For these dads, Father’s Day can bring about heightened feelings of grief, loss, and sadness, as well as more complicated feelings like anger, disappointment, and guilt.  Whether it’s his first Father’s Day since the child passed away or his 50th, it’s normal and expected for these feelings to arise.  Supporting a grieving parent after the devastating loss of a child is never easy, but days like Father’s Day can make it even harder. So what should you do if you want to support...

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Deaths of Despair by Greg Eckerman

Deaths of Despair by Greg Eckerman

Dr. Denise Campagnolo is a Neurologist and EricsHouse Board member, and my collaborator on the EricsHouse research project to validate and explore the usefulness of our Grief Self-Assessment tool. Denise recently shared an article with me, published in the JAMA Psychiatry Journal this past February, titled “Why Deaths of Despair Are Increasing in the US and Not Other Industrial Nations—Insights From Neuroscience and Anthropology”. First, I have to say the label ‘Deaths of Despair’ really resonates with me.  I have struggled to come up with a term that covers the range of losses we primarily focus on at EricsHouse (Suicide and Substance Abuse).  ‘Deaths of Self-Harm’ is accurate but feels...

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Grief is Not a Disorder by Dr. Alan Wolfelt Ph.D.

Grief is Not a Disorder by Dr. Alan Wolfelt Ph.D.

 My Position on the New “Prolonged Grief Disorder” Diagnostic Category in the DSM Our phone at the Center for Loss and Life Transition has been ringing off the hook in recent weeks with requests for my opinion of the new “PGD” diagnosis. Yes, everyone’s talking about the new “disorder” included in the latest release of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-5). Psychiatrists and other mental-health professionals can now, at their discretion, diagnose an adult patient with “prolonged grief disorder,” or PGD, one year or more after the death of someone loved (just six months for children).  According to the DSM, PGD is characterized by daily, intense yearning...

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