In This Newsletter
 
 (1) Science: Finding Closure Is a Myth (2) New "Now You Know" Video Vlogs
(3) Dr. Eben Alexander, Author of "Proof Of Heaven," Speaks (4) Dr. Neimeyer Answers a Grieving Spouse (5)  Recommended Reads and Cool Things (6) griefHaven News
THE SCIENCE OF LIFE
Finding Closure Is a Myth
by Dr. Stephen J. Forman
Reprinted From the Wall Street Journal
January 6, 2016
(reprinted with permission)
 
No, You Don't Need "Closure"
by Dr. Stephen J. Forman
 
As a cancer doctor, I see death, and see how the loss of a loved one is a part of each person's life forever.
 
There are few among us who have not experienced the loss of a friend or loved one. Often it comes without warning, in an accident or, as we've seen all too often recently, an act of terrorism. The experience of loss after a lingering illness like cancer, though more expected, is just as deeply felt. As time passes, we often hear how important it is to gain closure--a way of tidying up to help us move on with our own lives.
The reality is that closure is a myth. My personal and professional experience with those who have lost friends and family, including children, has taught me that going on with life is not the same as gaining closure. The wound of loss is a part of each person's life forever. We continue to think about those dear to us, though perhaps not every day or with the same intensity. Recollection is sometimes provoked by a date on the calendar or, less predictably, by a sight, sound, aroma, melody or place that evokes the missing person.
These personal moments, seemingly forever paused in time, can cause us to feel alone, especially during sentiment-filled holidays. The danger of the idea of closure is that it heightens this aloneness, by giving us a false expectation that these experiences should and will at some point end. They won't.
No matter how much time has passed, memories remain. To deny them is to deny precious moments of love, fellowship, gratitude and inspiration. Grieving changes the experience of loss, but does not eliminate it, and is not intended to do so. To close the memory does not sustain the healing or help in proceeding with life. Such echoes from the past are voices in the present and are sometimes warmly felt.
As humans we all yearn to remember. Nearly every culture has its way of preserving the past. We build memorials to perpetuate collective memory, whether it is the Vietnam Memorial or Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., the field of empty chairs in Oklahoma City, or the 9/11 Memorial in New York.
Cemeteries offer a communal "safe space" where grief is openly welcomed and expected, forever. Visitation rights to a plot do not suddenly expire six months after a burial, a time that some in the medical community suggest is the "normal" grieving period. In the Jewish tradition, the acknowledgment of the annual yahrzeit, the anniversary of the death of a family member, is always done in the presence of others, provoking a collective memory of the person.
These occasions--sometimes formal, but more often spontaneous--are not about closure. Rather they are about the fullness in each of our lives that came from our family, loved ones and friends, as well as others who were touched by that person's presence.
In my work as a cancer physician, I often write to the family of a loved one who was under our care, months after the death. It is a time when most of the people who helped support them through the days and weeks immediately after have gone back to the busyness of their own lives. The bereaved are left alone with their own feelings and thoughts. The letters are a chance to remain connected, but also a way to convey that their loved one is an important memory for us, too. These words of acknowledgment are always welcome, reassuring those whose lives have become interwoven with ours that their loved ones are alive within us, as they are in their own families.
A few months ago, I ran into a woman who many years ago had, at a very young age and early in her marriage, lost her husband to cancer. Since then she had moved away, met another man whom she adored, married him and had a family. Together they raised their children. She had built a successful career. Seemingly she had found closure from the tragedy of her early life. As we finished talking and she began to walk away, she turned around, and with eyes full, said: "I think of him almost every day."
Thank you, Dr. Forman,
for sharing such needed wisdom.
With Gratitude, Your griefHaven family.
 
NOW YOU KNOWtm
VIDEO VLOGS ARE HERE
Can you guess what it is?
Click Here To Watch Video
 
WE ARE EXCITED!
 
Bringing you our first
  NOW YOU KNOWtm
    VIDEO VLOG
  
We have been working on this project for the last year--a way to communicate with you in person, while also bringing you short (under five minutes), interesting,  current, and meaningful information about life. The idea is to share with you what we find in our journeys as we expand our knowledge-base of information that we feel will be of any interest to you. 

Now You Knowtm - a link to what life is all about

You will leave with new insights, something thought provoking, something to try, something to look into, and something to share with others.

No. 1 Greatest Grief Myth
Can you guess what it is?
Watch and find out,
then PLEASE tell everyone what you "now know."

Next time we will share the greatest grief myth no. 2

Watch Now You Knowtm  Here: Now You Know - Greatest Grief Myth Of All
DR. EBEN ALEXANDER
Author - Proof of Heaven
Gives griefHaven the Gift of a Special Evening

Susan and Eben

 

 

By Susan Whitmore
griefHaven Founder and CEO

     Dr. Eben Alexander gave us a gift when he spoke to a room of 200 people in Santa Monica on February 23. It was a special evening, and we all walked away knowing we had just experienced a once-in-a-lifetime event. As I said on stage that evening, my goal, and the overall goal of griefHaven, is to find and bring to everyone various approaches to living life that educate and provide unique possibilities of support as we continue our journeys of life.
 
     The work I do with those who are grieving often includes deep anguish and a sense of hopelessness, and that was also true for me for quite some time. When people see me now, they often ask what I've done over the years since Erika died that has helped me embrace life again. I always tell them that one of the keys for me was trying everything that came my way at least once. That was the only way I was able to find out what did and did not work. There were things I thought would be a waste of time, and some of those turned out to be the best. That helped me realize I wanted the same for you, and that is when I made a vow that I would search the world to find those things that might give people greater Peace of Heart. Bringing Dr. Alexander to you was in line with that vision and goal, and we will continue to do events through the years.
 
     As I drove Dr. Alexander and Karen Newell, his life partner, to the airport, Dr. Alexander said that his experience that evening was deeply loving and meaningful. In fact, so much so that he and Karen gave us the gift of the mp3 file of Dr. Alexander's talk. And now we bring that talk to you, hoping it will circle the globe and bring the same meaning and thought-provoking experience to others.
 
     I hope you will continue to be a part of our griefHaven lives, joining us as we bring you additional experiences along the way. Your support also helps so many others who need us.
 
To hear Dr. Alexander's talk, click on this link: Hear Dr. Alexander

 
You said it best.
Read what others had to say
about Dr. Eben Alexander

It was a very moving event last week.
Thank you for bringing Eben Alexander to Santa Monica. He is an amazing speaker and hearing his message is so important.
I almost didn't come because of other commitments, and boy am I glad I did come.
It was a great evening, and although I felt like I was "dragging" my husband along (he hadn't read to book yet, but is planning to now), he had such a great experience!
Thank you for this amazing experience, and please thank Dr. Alexander.
We all loved the evening with Eben Alexander. Thank you for all the other wonderful things griefHaven does to enrich our lives.
Wow! What an extraordinary, uplifting experience it was to hear Eben's journey, and of course an awakening for all of us that there is so much more in our collective spiritual and lifelong journeys.
Thank you for bringing Eben to the L.A. stage and to our higher consciousness. I am looking forward to reading his book and sharing his story with others. 
Thank you for arranging this amazing night for us. It brought me a lot of peace hearing about where my daughter lives now, Heaven. Eben was a kind and amazing speaker. Thank you for everything you do to help others going through the pain you feel.
Thank you again for your hard work. This was such an amazing gift. May God bless you and your family.
Thank you so much for bringing Dr. Eben Alexander to griefhaven. It was an inspiring and wonderful evening, and I hope you will do more of these events. It so freeing to hear you and him talk in a public forum about the spiritual things that we so know and believe. Bravo!!
The evening with Eben was really excellent. I just saw my trainer, and he was there and loved it also. The private event at the house was just right--a nice combo of mingling and listening to Eben. His talk was awesome. I really cannot think of anything I would have changed. Congratulations, it was amazing!
The event was fabulous! Every detail was perfection. The meet and greet was so meaningful. I think the location was a stroke of genius. I was thrilled the room was full! Although my husband felt terrible (having just finished radiation), he thought the talk was worth every second. So, again, thank you for the brilliance of such a great choice. I needed this kind of hope.
I am so grateful to have experienced hearing Eben Alexander in person last night. Thank you so much for bringing him to Santa Monica. He was even more wonderful than I might have imagined him to be. I was thrilled to learn about you and your group and can see that you are doing very important work.
It was an absolutely lovely evening - heartwarming and fascinating. What a gift to be able to meet Eben. Thank you, thank you!!
Thanks again for an amazing, inspiring and heartfelt evening.  If you could box up the positive energy that was created by such a great group of people, we could solve a lot of the world's problems!

Q & A With Dr. Robert Neimeyer

The Death of a Husband
Dr. Robert A. Neimeyer
griefHaven Partners With
Dr. Robert Neimeyer
to Bring You This Quarterly
Q&A Segment
 
MY HUSBAND HAS DIED...
 
Dear Dr. Neimeyer,

     My husband died just over a year ago, so on January 1st I will start my second year without him, and I am not looking forward to it.

     It's not that I am immobilized by grief, as I have gotten better across the months in that department, and actually feel pretty good and function pretty well when I am visiting our children across the country or traveling with friends. It's just that I feel lost and listless at home, even though there are 100 things I need to be doing--from cleaning out closets through straightening the garage to finding something to do with my time. But it all just feels overwhelming, and so I just watch TV or curl up in bed.  

     My friends tell me I have to stay busy, but it's not that easy. So my question is, do you have any practical advice for me so I can turn over a new leaf in the year to come?
-Phyllis

Dear Phyllis,

     There's a reason for the season, as they say, as the dawning of a New Year, if approached thoughtfully, can signal a time of renewal. It sounds like you have processed your grief and retained a capacity to live well and stay connected to others--at least when not at home. So perhaps with the turning of the calendar page you can also, as you say, turn a new leaf and cultivate the new shoots of possibility that may be germinating beneath it. Here are a few principles to guide your practice as you do so.

1.  Reinvent your world.  As your home seems to be your "Twilight Zone," consider brightening it in some way. You might literally introduce translucent and airy window treatments, for example, or experiment with new lights in the rooms in which you spend the most waking hours. Change things up: Rearrange the furniture to create a different feel to the space, paint a room. There are home designers who specialize in working inexpensively with what you already own to create a fresh environment that can surprise and delight by configuring existing furniture and decor in different ways.  It can be surprising what a difference a modest change in our living space can make.

2.  Invite people in.  Especially if you try any of the above tips, but even if you don't, have a few friends over for hors d'oeuvres or desserts, to "reclaim your space" for the life you want.  Perhaps you can even throw a "house re-warming" party, after the chill cast over the home by your husband's death.  Set a trend with this, perhaps rotating monthly among the homes of those in your friendship circle, and rebuild bonds where these have grown frayed from neglect.

3.  Set process goals.  Life requires maintenance, of course, and not all tasks are as potentially eye-catching as remodeling your living room.  So when tackling that garage or closet, or even the routine and "invisible" tasks of cleaning bathrooms, paying bills, and the like, set a timer or play a series of favorite songs to mark 15 or 30 minutes, during which you'll stay on task, giving yourself permission to discontinue when the time is up.  You can always return to the task the next day for a similar interval until the job gets done.  Setting this sort of "process goal," rather than only giving yourself "credit" for completion, can help you side-step unfair self-criticism and overcome task avoidance as you make incremental progress.

4.  Track your successes.  Many of us keep a To-Do list, but the problem is that as the list becomes long, our feeling of being overwhelmed grows large.  And this is understandable:  if we were presented with a warehouse full of food that we had to eat in our lifetimes, most of us would give up before taking the first bite!  Instead of listing everything that needs attention, keep a list of tasks accomplished, and post it on the refrigerator or in some other prominent space.  The results can then serve to encourage rather than discourage future initiative.

5.  Live your values.  The idea that "staying busy" is good for grievers is only a half-truth.  As with psychologists who recommend "behavioral activation," everything hinges on what you get active doing.  Random behavior doesn't make for a meaningful life.  Nor is generic advice (get some exercise, go out with friends) specifically helpful to us when we are trying to figure out what kind of life might take shape in the emptiness created by loss.  So begin with some inner work, perhaps in meditation or contemplation, perhaps in journaling or conversation with a counselor or trusted friend.  Ask yourself:  What matters to me?  What excites me, stirs me, feels like time well spent?  What are my ultimate values, and how can those inform my choices?  Perhaps you value altruistic service to others:  What volunteer organization reaches out in a way you can support to those in need?  Perhaps you value learning:  Is there a book club or meet up group you can locate on the internet to share ideas about works of creative non-fiction, or to go on educational outings?  Perhaps you value creativity:  What art classes are offered in your area?  In other words, connecting scheduled activities to deep interests can help you begin to reconstruct life in the wake of loss, in a way that reorganizes your life and time into a satisfying, even if different form than before.
-Dr. Neimeyer

     Robert A. Neimeyer, Ph.D. is one of the foremost authorities on grief and bereavement. He is a Professor of Psychology at University of Memphis where he also maintains an active clinical practice.
     Dr. Neimeyer has published 30 books, including Techniques of Grief Therapy: Creative Practices for Counseling the Bereaved and Grief and the Expressive Arts: Practices for Creating Meaning. He also serves as Editor of the journal Death Studies. The author of over 500 articles and book chapters, and a frequent workshop presenter, he is currently working to advance a more adequate theory of grieving as a meaning-making process.
     Dr. Neimeyer served as President of the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) and Chair of the International Work Group for Death, Dying & Bereavement. In recognition of his scholarly contributions, he has been granted the Eminent Faculty Award by the University of Memphis, made a Fellow of the Clinical Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association, and given Lifetime Achievement Awards by both the Association for Death Education and Counseling and the International Network on Personal Meaning.

griefHaven is grateful for the new partnership with Dr. Neimeyer

Recommended
READS and COOL THINGS
DIMPLES
 CHARMS AND
WONDERFUL MEMORIES
btw - a great Mother's or Father's Day Gift


After our son was born, my husband and jewelry designer, Jeffrey Ross, sought a way to permanently capture the fleeting moments in our baby's life as he grew so quickly. For Mother's Day he created a sterling silver charm for me with our son's fingerprint impression in it - and the idea for Dimples was born.
Now we are on a mission to help people celebrate life and all of its fleeting moments by capturing memories in personalized jewelry.
 You can create jewelry personalized with a fingerprint; hand or footprint; paw print; doodle; or handwriting of a loved one at www.dimplescharms.com or by emailing info@dimplescharms.com.
Pendants, bracelet charms, cuff links, and rings are available in sterling silver, 10K, 14K, 18K yellow, white, or rose gold, and platinum. Prices start at $175 CAD (Canadian dollars) in sterling silver and $350 CAD in 10K gold. All items are made in North America (US, Canada, and Mexico).
We would love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact us at 1-844-852-5802 or info@dimplescharms.com .
Patti Moloney

A Children's Book About Loss

A GENIUS Idea for Young Children

Who Have Lost a Sibling

 

Each book is personalized with YOUR child's name
throughout the entire book!
 
A Story of Love From South Africa
About "The Story of ... "
 
Note From griefHaven: What a wonderful idea Kate has come up with! See what Erika's personalized book looks like below.
 
From Kate Polley: Until the moment of Sam's death, I had led a "sheltered," even enviable life. I had grown up in a loving family, traveled the world, got married and brought two beautiful daughters into the world. Sure, life had thrown a few minor curveballs along the way, but on the whole it had been a rather seamless ride.
 
Even when the fetal specialist termed my pregnancy high risk (due to a shared placenta, common in identical twins), I never allowed the notion that something might go wrong to permeate my conscience. Bad things didn't happen to me. I truly believed my boys would be born healthy, without complication, completing the picture perfect life I had created.
Sometimes now I look back and marvel at my past innocence, at the somewhat naive notion of life I enjoyed for almost 35 years. If only my inexperienced self had known what I know now--that child loss does not discriminate--that it can happen to anyone.
A personalized book Kate did about Erika
This is the truth I found myself living that dreadful Sunday morning, holding my lifeless baby boy, Sam, whilst his tiny twin brother, Finn, lay alone in the NICU. The days which followed were a blur. I went home without my babies--no longer a proud mother expecting twins, but shrouded with a new and unwelcome identity: a bereaved parent, juggling the rawness of death with a premature baby, as well as two older children at home to care for. Finally, after a long and exhausting month, our darling Finn came home. It was a bittersweet moment.

Fifteen months after Sam and Finn were born, I sat down to record on paper my boys' stories. Documenting Sam's short yet precious life in a story for Finn was a hugely cathartic experience for me. It made his existence real and helped ease my very broken heart. I had the story illustrated and printed a few copies for each of my children and close family members. A few months later, I posted an electronic version of the book on a private online baby loss forum I belonged to. I did so in the hope of providing comfort to other grieving families who had provided me with so much understanding and support. The response was overwhelming!
  
This is the first page. The entire book includes the child's name.
 
When Sam died, I remember feeling so utterly alone, like I was the only person in the world that this could possibly have happened to. My connection with other baby loss parents from all over the world made me realise that this wasn't true--that there were families in every corner of the globe trying to wade through the same murky waters of grief.
I reprinted a small quantity of my book and posted it to a few families with whom I had made a special connection. Each time I parted with a copy, my heart felt a tiny bit more at peace. By sharing my boys' stories and providing some comfort to bereaved families, Sam was making his imprint on the world. His life was both real and purposeful.
From there, the demand for the book spread, and the requests for a non-twin specific version of the book, personalized with a family's own child's name, was overwhelming. Resources for bereaved families like us are so limited. I remember in those early days trawling the Internet, desperately looking for books to read; in fact, anything I could get my hands on that would make me feel less alone.
Together with the encouragement and support from my UK-based publishing company Oodlebooks, my dream of providing a resource to all bereaved families, irrespective of the circumstances of their losses, was realised. The personalized version of the book is now being published and distributed to families all over the world. It is my hope that every family who receives a copy will be provided with a tiny bit of comfort and a glimmer of hope.
I believe that Sam exists all around me, both within my heart and in the beauty of the world which surrounds us. I hope you too feel the same way about your child.
ABOUT KATE POLLEY:
     Kate lives in Cape Town, South Africa, together with her husband, Peter, and their four living children: Hannah (13), Erin (12), Finn (5) and Jude (3). She balances motherhood with her passion: sharing Sam's story and providing hope for bereaved families. You can connect with Kate via the Sam and Finn Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/samandfinn and order any of the book versions from www.personalizedchildlossbook.com. Sam and Finn is also available for purchase on Amazon.

A Mother's Dance
--by Pattie Welek Hall

I wrote this book in hopes it would bring healing to others.
Instead, I discovered that I was the one who healed.
 
 
ABOUT THE BOOK:
How does one measure the depth of a mother's love?
  
With all three kids in college and thriving, Pattie is excited about embarking on her new career as community relations manager at Barnes & Noble. That is, until she receives word that her nineteen-year-old son has been admitted to the Medical University of South Carolina after suffering a traumatic brain injury. Her sole concern is to get to Charleston, 250 miles away, before he takes his final breath.
  
Although Casey is given only twenty-four hours to live, Pattie clings to her faith. During Casey's long and arduous healing, Pattie takes a hard look at the past: the kids' tender childhood memories, their challenging teenage years, the skeletons in the closet, and the circumstances that have formed her into who she has become. When tragedy strikes again, Pattie must make a choice: will she remain stuck in her grief, or will she step into the life she's meant to create?
  
Moving and heart-wrenching, A Mother's Dance is a story about hope, perseverance, self-discovery, hard choices, and, most importantly,  love.
 
Pattie's touching memoir is the heart and soul of a mother's love--from happiness to despair, and everything in-between. It will inspire you to face calamitous events and refuse to be conquered by them.
      --National Jefferson Award Winner Dave Pelzer, Author of A Child Called "It."
  
  
About the Author
Pattie Welek Hall is author of the children's book, Believe, which translated into Spanish is entitled Creer. She's been published in the International Brain Injury Association 10 th World Congress scientific journal, "Brain Injury," as well as  Chicken Soup for the Soul: Recovering from Traumatic Brain Injuries. Pattie hosts an Internet radio talk show, Joy Radio, from Charleston, South Carolina, where she makes her home.

griefHaven NEWS
Support, Events, and More
HAVE YOU LOST SOMEONE YOU LOVE?
OUR NEW DROP-IN GROUPS
HAVE STARTED. JOIN US WITH
YOUR LOVED ONES.
FOR ALL LOSSES
Ages 20 and Older

THE FIRST WEDNESDAY OF EVERY MONTH

 
KEHILLAT ISRAEL SYNAGOGUE, PACIFIC PALISADES
7:00 P.M. - 8:30 P.M.
NO COST
(of course, we would never turn down a donation)
 
Next Meeting: May 4, 2016

Details: People are calling and asking us to have an open group again, so we are giving you what you want. May 4 is our next meeting. We hope you will join us and bring your loved ones.
Groups are for ages 20 and older.

 

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