Friday, June 29, 2012

Changing Your Focus After Losing a Friend

You probably went through – or are going through – a very dark period of time after your friend died.

Maybe you felt guilt or regret or rage or just a heavy, heavy sadness.

For some people a light bulb goes off.

You can call it a wake-up call, a sign from God, a slap in the face. But sometimes it takes the death of a friend to get you moving in a different direction.

It seems to happen most when the friend is your age or younger. You see the lost potential of their life, and it makes you look at yours: potential and life.

You may have been vaguely restless before all this happened. You may have been quite content with your life.

But the death of someone your own age is often a dramatic reminder that your time here on earth is limited. No one knows how long they have.

You become irritable. Things that are important to others – and once important to you – seem trivial and useless and stupid beyond words.

More than once you’ve tried to explain to them how you feel – how unsettled, how sad, how empty – but they don’t understand.

They may tell you that you need to move on, get over it. But that just makes you madder than you were before.

You’ve been through something profound, but the people around you don’t get it.

You’re a different person, though you look and sound the same. You are different inside, changed forever for having lost your friend.

Now what?

You see things differently now.

You feel like you need to make a change, a big change, perhaps.

Where do you begin?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Little Ways to Remember Your Friend

Some of the people profiled here in Friend Grief have done big, impressive things after their friend died. Maybe they founded a charity or made big changes in their own lives.

Not everyone can do something big and expensive. Not everyone wants to. And often, it’s the little things that count.
Here are a few ideas of things you can do to remember your friend:

-Visit their grave, or have flowers sent there on a day that was special only to the two of you.

-If a memorial Facebook page was set up for them, post a comment, just to say you’re thinking about them.

-Play a song that reminds you of them.

-Go someplace you used to go together. Don’t be surprised if you half-expect to see them there.

-Do something they liked to do.

-Write to them. It may sound odd, but just write about how you’re feeling. Maybe reminisce about how you met, the funniest thing you ever did together, a trip you took. Tell them what they meant to you.                 

-Volunteer for a charity they supported.

-Make a CD of pictures of your friend. Add a soundtrack of their favorite songs. Share it with mutual friends.

-Do something in their memory. Maybe you want to challenge yourself to run a 5K race, or lose 10 pounds. Dedicate your hard work to them.

-Depending on your/their faith, plan a religious observance (Mass, prayer service) on the anniversary of their death, or their birthday.

-Become an organ donor.

-Make the time to call another friend.

-If you have a picture of the two of you that makes you happy, get a nice frame and put it in a place of honor in your home.

I believe one of the most human reactions to a person’s death is that we fear they will be forgotten. We despair that others will never know what a great friend we lost.
All of these activities – and many more – help keep a person’s memory alive. “As long as you remember him,” Doctor Who told Amy. “He’s not dead.”

So it is with our friends. They’re always with us.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

"Bury His Heart, But Not His Love"

Shannon Stapleton/Reuters/Landov
We'll continue contsidering how people honor the memory of their friend by taking another look at one of the most popular posts on Friend Grief. It's a look back at the eulogy given for Fr. Mychal Judge, FDNY chaplain who died on 9/11. Giving the eulogy was not something his friend planned to do, but he certainly rose to the occasion:

I've never been called upon to give a eulogy for a friend. I wrote the eulogy a hospice chaplain read for my father’s funeral. I’ve made remarks at friends’ memorial services. But I’ve never given a formal eulogy: never stood up in front of a gathering of mourners, script in hand, before a microphone, praying for strength.

The photo here is one of the most iconic images of September 11, 2001. Fr. Mychal Judge was a New York City fire department chaplain. He died ministering at the World Trade Center. His funeral, at St. Francis of Assisi Church on West 31st Street four days later, was nationally televised.
Franciscans are required to leave instructions “in the event of” their death, and on the morning following the attacks, Fr. Michael Duffy was told that Fr. Judge had left instructions for him to give the eulogy.
I was shaken and shocked … for one thing, as you know from this gathering, Mychal Judge knew thousands of people. He knew, he seemed to know everybody in the world. And if he didn’t then, they know him now, I’m sure. Certainly he had friends that were more intellectual than I, certainly more holy than I, people more well-known. And so I sat with that thought, why me … and I came down to the conclusion that I was simply and solely his friend … and I’m honored to be called that.

I always tell my volunteers in Philadelphia that through life, you’re lucky if you have four or five people whom you can truly call a friend. And you can share any thought you have, enjoy their company, be parted and separated, come back together again and pick up right where you left off. They’ll forgive your faults and affirm your virtues. Mychal Judge was one of those people for me. And I believe and hope I was for him …
How do you sum up a life and a friendship? Fr. Duffy’s eulogy is as good as they get: personal, joyful, mournful. Even if you never met Fr. Judge, by the end of the homily you’ll feel that he was your friend, too.
Thanks to Fr. Duffy for teaching us all about his friend.

For more information on Fr. Mychal Judge, his life and his legacy:

For the entire transcript of Fr. Duffy’s homily:

Friday, June 22, 2012

How Do You Honor Your Friend?
For the next few posts, I’m going to look at the ways some people have honored a friend who has died.

In many ways, this blog is a way for me to honor a friend. Before she died, I promised my friend, Delle Chatman, that I’d write a book about what people go through when their friends die. She was enthusiastic and supportive, as always.

It took almost 3 years to finally get going, but later this summer, I’ll be self-publishing a small e-book, My Best Friend Died and No One Gives a Damn. The bigger book is still in progress, though it’s getting close. She’s taken over my life, changing my career path in a very unexpected way. That’s not a complaint.

Connie Ragen Green wrote last summer in about her closest childhood friend, Tory.

“We had been close friends for more than thirty years. He died suddenly the day before Christmas by choking on some food while he was alone.”

Not surprisingly, her grief continued for months, especially when considering the ‘what ifs’ that consume us when someone dies in a way that might have been prevented. She could have wallowed in that forever.

Then she realized she had hundreds of photos of him. She spent several months transferring them to CD’s, choosing background music, creating tributes. She sent the CD’s – a new one each week – to his family. Sharing the good times helped her heal.

That was a great thing to do, you’re thinking. And it was. You don’t have to be a computer whiz to do it. But she took her love for her friend a step farther:

“The year after he passed away I set up a scholarship fund in Tory’s name. He had not been a good student, so I set the academic requirements very low for the person who would apply for it. He also loved animals, so I made the scholarship for someone who was studying to work with animals as a career. I remember meeting the woman who received it the first year. She wanted to be a veterinary assistant, and this money was going to help her to finish school and go on to this career. I told her a little about why I had set up the scholarship and wished her well with her studies.”

Not everyone has the financial resources to do that, but I liked that she tailored the scholarship to someone like her friend: a normal guy who liked animals.

In the midst of grief, it’s often difficult to think of good ideas for honoring our friends. I hope this post and the next few will give you some ideas. Feel free to share yours, too.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Caregiver to Your Friend: Compassion Fatigue

I thought this was a great topic to address after Tracey Carruther’s beautiful guest post here on Tuesday.

In it, she made it clear that she was deeply affected by the experience of caring for our friend, Delle Chatman, during the last two months of Delle’s life. Having already been through the deaths of multiple loved ones, Tracey still wasn’t prepared for the deep physical, emotional and spiritual effects that took her a year to address.

Patricia Smith is the founder of Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project, and author of To Weep for a Stranger: Compassion Fatigue in Caregiving. Though Delle – and Tracey’s family and friends who died before her – was hardly a stranger, Smith’s insights are relevant to anyone who cares for someone. Smith’s recent article on focused on nursing home employees.

I was teaching a workshop 20 years ago on grant writing, and two of the attendees were from a hospice. I asked them during a break, “How do you handle it?” I’d worked in the AIDS community long enough to understand the emotional toll on caregivers and friends. One of them replied, “You have to find a different definition of success.”

Caregiving fatigue is normal and often expected. The physical demands alone of taking care of someone who is seriously ill – whether family member, friend or patient – can be severe. But there is something beyond that, and it’s called compassion fatigue:

“Called secondary trauma, the symptoms of compassion fatigue can surface when caregivers identify with the patient and begin to experience their own suffering. This is often the result of unresolved pain and trauma in their own lives.”

I’m not a psychologist, but I think Tracey might agree that this is a fair description of her year after Delle died. As she said in her article, she was “good at death”: the activities and rituals surrounding a person’s final illness and death. But until Delle died, she hadn’t truly, deeply, allowed herself to grieve.

I have a friend whose father died a few months before mine. She told me later that she’d started seeing a counselor, because she was having trouble adjusting. The counselor told her she hadn’t fully grieved her mother’s death – 25 years earlier. I remember that my friend was initially outraged by that diagnosis, but at no time did she deny it.

Grief has a way of biting you in the butt when you least expect it. Like Tracey, you might be really good at the “business” of caregiving. But part of that business has to be self-care.

If you find yourself unable to move on in any way, obsessed with feelings of guilt for what you think you should’ve done, please consider getting help. There are support groups for little or no money available through hospices, hospitals and funeral homes. Don’t be surprised if your grief is fueled by unaddressed grief from your past.

Caregiving is a calling, whether you do it as your job or for a friend or family member. Not everyone’s cut out for it, which does not, by the way, make you a bad person.

But if caregiving is – or was – part of your life, if you had the privilege of helping care for your friend in their final days, remember that airplane analogy:

“In the event of a loss of cabin pressure, put your oxygen mask on first before helping anyone else.”

And keep it on as long as you need it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Life, Loss and Legacy: Guest Post by Tracey Carruthers

Tracey Carruthers
I met Tracey in October, 2006, when she came to Chicago to move in with our friend, Delle Chatman. Her devotion to making Delle’s last days as meaningful and peaceful as possible was inspiring (if sometimes annoying when I was feeling most selfish). Her reflection on those days is longer than my typical posts, but worth every word. I'm grateful that she was there for Delle and has shared her experience with us all:

Thought doesn’t get much more personal and unclear than during a time of loss. In a way, in the matter of how we feel and how we deal with our feelings, it really doesn’t matter what the loss is; a job, a bet, a game, a tradition, a loved one…the important thing to remember is our feelings are our first clues to the quality of our thinking—our state of mind—and that’s what creates the quality of our experience of Life.  In this case…our experience of loss.

But Death feels so final, so absolute. We are consumed with feelings of guilt, despair, regret and so much more. We want to know, “Why?  Why Now?”  And yes, in those ominous times of terminal diagnosis, we want to know, “Why me?”  

As a coach I often engage in these most intimate of conversations with clients and relatives and friends.  The recurring theme revolves around how it feels: how it feels to lose someone who is the center of your life, how it feels to imagine the rest of your life without the presence of such a vital force, how it feels to face your own immortality and even…how it feels to die.

From 1980 to 2000, I was intimately involved as personal care taker, minister of last rites and planner of funeral arrangements for all of my immediate family members; my father in 1980, my husband in 1995, my fraternal grandmother in 1999 and my mother in 2000. There were other losses just as intimate and just as traumatic during those years—my maternal grandmother, aunts, uncles, cousins, close friends and lovers—that touched me just as deeply. Yet, no matter how many touch my life directly; it is clear to me that I am connected to and called to acknowledge all death. Every death, everywhere, touches me; enjoins me to justify my existence. There is no death, anywhere, that does not oblige me to look for something good—some meaning, some reason, some validation of the underlying purpose of Life.

Over those 20 years, I became adept, almost routinely conditioned to “handle” the ceremonial relationship I had established with Death. Those who knew me well were deeply concerned and wondered how long I could keep up the pace.  “It seems like you’ve had more than your share,” one friend said.  “I worry about you.”

She had cause to worry, because there was one phase of the life-loss-legacy experience that I had avoided or perhaps just hadn’t taken time to fully explore…Grief. 

2006 was a time of transition in my life.  I had recently retired and was weighing my options, in search of direction.  I was seeking discernment, learning to listen to my intuitive voice, and studying with Dr. Ron Jue, internationally recognized for his work as an executive coach.  His training—focused on integrating life, work and spirituality for greater effectiveness and fulfillment—prepared me for my most revealing rendezvous with Death.

In October I went to Chicago to help out a friend who had been living for four years with ovarian cancer.  Delle and I had known each other since my early days in California in the 80’s.  She wrote in Hollywood for many years, creating ground breaking characters such as an African American cowboy for the ABC series, “The Young Riders.”   She wrote the original screenplay for the award winning Showtime film, “Free of Eden,” starring Sidney Poitier. She authored two books, “The Unteachable Ten,” and “Death of a Parent.”

In Chicago she taught, preached and ministered at St. Gertrude’s Catholic Church and expanded her reach through a television ministry on WTTW’s “30 Good Minutes.”  She taught radio, TV and film writing to high school and college students as Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Northwestern and DePaul Universities.  She was an accomplished photographer who printed and sold her photographs as computer-augmented works of art.  And as if all that wasn’t enough, she gave birth to a remarkable daughter, Ramona, who is destined to do great things.

My search for direction and discernment had led me to understand that my purpose in life was to serve and coach those who were led by the Spirit. My immediate assignment was to take care of this incredible woman.

Everything I had learned from 1980 to 2000…every encounter with hospitals, doctors, cancer treatments, hospice care-givers, accountants,  lawyers, bureaucracy; every exhausting experience of contacting loved ones, writing obituaries, completing funeral arrangements, nurturing, disseminating personal effects…everything came into play for Delle.  Most of it was accomplished without conscious thought, sometimes executed in a thoughtless, robotic manner.

The key, the thing that made it all possible was the help of others. During the almost two months that I spent with Delle, her home was filled with visitors, friends and volunteers. A selected group that we called Delle’s Elves was the core.  They arranged and delivered a daily, nutritious meal service for the entire family. They drove her daughter to dance lessons and cancer support meetings. They meticulously catalogued and archived Delle’s intellectual property; thousands of photographs, works of art, manuscripts, journals, lectures, lesson plans, sermons, video and audio tapes, books, journals, office and art supplies.  They sorted clothing and personally delivered it to Delle’s designated charities. They filed her taxes, packed her effects, recommended a mover to ship it all for safe keeping and engaged a trusted real estate agent to sell her condo.

They worked tirelessly day and night, pausing only to sit and minister to and receive a blessing from the special servant who had been so faithful to them over years.  When she made her transition, they carried out Delle’s wishes to the letter, serving a gathering of hundreds at her Memorial Mass, and hosting and contributing to a grand celebration after the service. They nurtured her daughter, her brothers, her extended family, each other and me.   

Their acts of kindness provided living testimony to Delle’s goodness. Their unconditional love proclaimed a legacy most aspire to but few achieve. Finally I understood the meaning, the reason, the purpose of a life well lived. Delle’s life and the homage her friends paid to that life, was the ultimate validation, the proof positive that it’s the good that we do that makes the difference, that leaves the mark that lasts for all time. 

I am grateful to have witnessed this manifestation of true love, and when I finally returned home there was one more blessing waiting for me.

In the year that followed Delle’s death I experienced grief that was, at times, overwhelming.  I functioned, traveled, worked, coached, completed a book and lived a relatively normal life.  But there are months of 2007 that are still a blur. 

There were times when I couldn’t bear to leave my home.  I would get dressed for an event and then cancel at the last minute. I missed holidays, jazz festivals, birthday celebrations, hair appointments and nights out with the girls.  I avoided my family and friends.  When I did go out, I would shop as close to home as possible, avoiding eye contact with others, praying that no one would speak to me or require me to acknowledge their presence. 

There were other, miraculous times when the grief process was truly enlightening. I somehow managed to travel to the Caribbean, France, Montenegro, Chicago, Atlanta, New Orleans and San Francisco that year.  I knew that I was running away, trying to avoid the deep feelings that had engulfed me. I also knew that I needed to be with close friends, experience new adventures and revisit traditional, familiar haunts. 

It took a year.  I can’t tell you that I went through any specific phases in any regimental order. I can’t even say that I was consumed with the loss of such a vital, important, and loving spirit. Nor can I say for certain that it is over. The experience was all-encompassing, dynamic and purposeful. I believe that I was grieving for all those whose deaths had touched me so deeply. In truth, I had never taken time to fully recognize their lives or my loss.

In her book, Death of a Parent,Delle writes, “You’ve buried one of the giants in your world—your mother or your father…maybe both…Yet, everything else in your life is to a large extent just where you left it.  The load at work is just as heavy, the kids are just as rambunctious, the bills are piled just as high…The sun still shines, rain still falls, gravity still works, and none of the forces of nature seem to care one bit that your personal universe has been altered forever.” 

She goes on to observe, “Many cultures have gracious traditions of mourning built into their social customs.  But here in our society there is no set of rituals that allows people to hang their head after the funeral, no such thing as formal bereavement leave from our responsibilities.  Maybe there should be.”

Well Delle, thanks to you I took my leave. I used 2007 to transition to a greater, personal accountability to live a life of legacy, and to touch others in-kind. I am so grateful for the gift of that year, and the friends who stood by me, calling and checking on me to make sure I was okay…giving me the space and privacy to do what I had to do…allowing me to come to terms with my experience of loss.

I came out of that year with a bright and glowing relationship with my self and my spirit.  I learned to pay attention to the feelings that tell me when I need a moment of reflection to commune with my intuitive voice for options and solutions that take me forward with a more informed certainty and direction. We all owe ourselves and our future those moments. And even if they stretch out from moments to an entire year, we deserve the gift of that time for our healing and our blessing.

My gift, my blessing, is a deeper awareness that loss, and in particular Death, can inspire us toward a more intimate relationship with Life. For me, that’s the greatest legacy of all.

Tracey Carruthers is an author and Executive Coach. Her clients include CEOs and senior teams; entrepreneurs; civic leaders, coaches and consultants. Her philosophy embraces the wisdom and intelligence of the heart.  “Leading and coaching from the heart engages the intelligence of our innate wisdom,” says Tracey. “Listening from the wisdom of the heart reconnects us to the spirit within us, inspiring us to look at the possibilities of life with a brand new perspective.”

For more information, or to contact Tracey, log onto

Friday, June 15, 2012

Daddy's Friends

Daddy and me in the backyard
I wrote this last year. Tomorrow is the 7th anniversary of my father's death, and as people often say, "I can't believe it's been that long." Sometimes, too, I can't believe it's only been seven years. Most of his friends I wrote about here are still around. This is for them and for Daddy, and all those who grieve a friend this Father's Day weekend.

My parents were part of a group of about 6 couples. All had married around 1949, stayed married, raised their families in the same place they grew up themselves. My Dad met one guy when they were 5 years old; others he met when they worked at a factory. The men were loud and a little goofy at times.

Their culinary adventures rarely extended beyond meat and potatoes or Italian food (my Dad was a notable exception to that rule). We’ve celebrated birthdays and anniversaries, weddings and baptisms with them all. With the exception of one couple closer to my age, in my fifties I still refer to them as “Mr. and Mrs.” rather than their first names. They’re still the grownups.

When my Dad was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in the fall of 2004, this group became even closer. They were still loud and goofy, but different. They would continue to meet for lunch, but also kept him company during chemo. They were there for him, in that nonverbal way men have of expressing love.
We finally brought in hospice in June, and my mother started calling his friends. The first ones were there in an hour, and the rest showed up over the next couple days. By then my Dad was in a hospital bed in the living room, barely able to communicate, in and out of consciousness. In short, not the man they’d known for 50, 60 or even 70 years. It was hard on them; so hard one man took one look at him and walked back out. He couldn’t take it: the most outrageous man in the bunch broke down on the front porch.
My Dad was the first one in their group to die, and it was hard on them. But I will always remember how they made sure that the time they spent with my Dad was as normal as possible. They didn’t abandon him or treat him with kid gloves. They laughed and argued and told stories, just as they had for decades.
So, I share this because it’s Father’s Day weekend, and yesterday was the 6th anniversary of my father’s death. When I talked to my mother last night, she said she’d gotten a call from one couple who called from their vacation to tell her they were thinking of her. Those are the kinds of friends everyone wants to have.
I wish those kinds of friends for you.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

"Tell Me About Your Friend"
This is something I shared when I first started this blog early last year. The conference is long over, and we've made a triumphant return visit to Stecchino's since then. But the advice remains solid, especially when it comes to men grieving their friends:

We were having dinner at Stecchino’s on 9th Avenue in New York, a lively group of eight who were attending the Writer’s Digest Conference. With the agent Pitch Slam behind us, the tension of the past two days was finally wearing off, aided by wine, laughter and crab cakes.
I don’t remember what we were talking about. But suddenly George turned to me and said very matter-of-factly, “my best friend died at 29. It changed my life.”
I shouldn’t have been surprised. George and I had already talked at length about my book, and his enthusiasm was contagious. But this was the first personal comment he’d made on the subject.
I’ve interviewed a number of men for my book, with more to talk with in the coming weeks. When I first started, I assumed that it would be like pulling teeth to get men to talk in any detail about friends who had died. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The first man I interviewed actually asked to talk to me, when a friend told him about sharing her story. We met in his favorite bar, which turned out to be the place he and his friend had spent a lot of their free time.
I pulled out my list of questions – about 30 – hoping that the answers would take more than 15 minutes. Ninety minutes later, we were still on question #3, although his story had covered most of the rest of the list.
Conventional wisdom dictates that women’s friendships are more important than men’s; that women are more willing to talk about their feelings. I was certainly guilty of believing that. But the willingness of men to bare their souls about their friends has been a revelation to me.
Everyone who has experienced the death of a friend has a story to tell, of the joy of knowing that friend and the pain of losing them. Don’t assume that men don’t want to share it with you. All you have to do is ask:
“Tell me about your friend.”

Monday, June 11, 2012

What Else Do You Grieve When You Grieve Your Friend?

On Friday, we looked at what you grieve when your friend dies: the regrets that revolve around their actual death.

Today, I’d like to shift the focus just a bit to answer the question a different way. Because when you grieve the death of your friend, you’re also grieving a part of you.

Friends come into our lives at different times: the first day of school or a new job, in a play group or on a sports team.

I think it’s safe to say that Shakespeare was right when he insisted that “all the world’s a stage, the men and women merely players”. We may not consider ourselves actors, but we are different people at different times in our lives.

I was a different person in high school when I was two lockers away from Corinne than I was doing plays in college with Michael.

I was a different person when I sat on a small theatre’s board of directors with Carol than I was listening to Dennis sing in the church choir twenty years later.

So, even as we mourn the death of our friend, and perhaps the circumstances, too, we also mourn the part of us that died with them.

We mourn the memories of what we did together. We may mourn the fact that now there is no one else left in the world who was there when we walked into our first audition, joined the mother’s club, or chaired our first meeting.

They remember us when we were pretending to be brave, but scared to death. Their presence calmed us down and maybe even made us laugh at ourselves. They accepted us, but didn’t hesitate to tell us we were full of shit. They were almost always right.

In the business world, it’s called “institutional memory”: people who have been around long enough to remember the way things used to be. Our friends are like that, too.

You may say, ‘well, that may be true, but their death isn’t about me’. We don’t just grieve a person, we grieve a relationship, and every relationship requires (at least) two people. One of those people is you.

The longer we live, the more friends we’ll lose. We’ll mourn them first. And then we’ll mourn who we were when we were with them.

Friday, June 8, 2012

What Do You Grieve When You Grieve Your Friend?

Serenading people on line in Central Park
That was not a stupid question.

The simplest, most basic answer is that you grieve that they are physically gone from this world. Whether you believe in heaven or reincarnation or another consciousness after death, you still mourn their loss.

But what else do you grieve?

Maybe you found out about their death much later, so you missed the funeral.

Maybe you two weren’t speaking, and so were never able to settle your differences and part one last time as friends.

Maybe you didn’t get a chance to say goodbye.

Maybe you never told them you loved them.

Maybe you were too embarrassed to tell them how they changed your life.

Maybe you didn’t get a chance to help them when they were dying.

You might call these regrets. You might be consumed by the ‘what if’s’.

I wrote last summer about the stark differences in the musical tributes Paul McCartney offered in his concert. One, full of affection for George Harrison, proved that they’d been able to express their love and appreciation for their long friendship. The other, full of regret, left you with the pain he felt at not expressing his feelings to John Lennon.

You can’t change what happened between you and the friend who died. But you can affect the friendships you still have. It might scare them – and you – but take a moment to tell them how much you appreciate them.

The night before his heart surgery, a friend told me I was on the short list of people to call if something “went bad”. We’d had a long, very complicated, difficult (at times) relationship, but we’ve been on good terms for years now, and I fell apart on the phone.

He was surprised by my reaction. “Why are you upset? I knew you’d be more pissed off if you weren’t on the list.” That was true, and we both laughed about it. But for the first time in decades, when we hung up the phone that night, I told him I loved him. After a moment, and with a catch in his voice, he told me he loved me, too.

You don’t have to write a long letter, or pour out your heart. Just a quick “God, you’re annoying, but I love you anyway” or “I don’t know what I’d do without you” is probably enough, and more than they’ll expect. You won’t scare anyone that way.

So this weekend, give it a shot. The first one will probably be the hardest, but after that, you’ll get the hang of it.

Which song would you prefer?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Coming Attractions on Friend Grief

I’m in New York this week, for Book Expo America and to meet some writing deadlines that have been hanging over my head. I thought this is a good time to let you know what’s coming up in the next few months here on Friend Grief:

1.      Guests. I’m quite excited that you’ll be seeing a guest blogger once a month. Men and women, their ages will vary, as will their perspectives. One was a caregiver to her friend, another is a grief professional. Yet another will offer a new take on the AIDS epidemic. All are excellent writers. What they share is the experience of grieving the death of a friend.

2.      Book reviews. More than one person has pronounced my subject matter ‘depressing’, and I’m sure it is to some people. I read some books about grief, but not a lot. While I am reluctant to create a hierarchy of grief, I do believe the grief we feel for a spouse or child is different than that we feel for a friend. But I’d like to share some of the books I have been reading, ones that deal specifically with the author’s grief over losing a friend. Some of them are celebrities, some are not. But all have something to say about the experience we will all have some day.

3.      Movie reviews, for the same reason as #2.

4.      Resources. Along with the book reviews, the Resources page will be expanded to include more organizations started by people who wanted to honor their friend’s memory. I’ll also be adding more social media: blogs, Twitter hashtags to follow, and Facebook groups.

5.      And last but not least, later this summer I will be publishing my first e-book on friend grief and anger. It’s a small book, about 5,000 words, and will be available later in print. As we get closer to the publication date, you’ll find out how you can download it for free.

So, get your popcorn and your drink, sit back and enjoy. There’s a lot more to come!