Pets and Human Grief


Pets can help humans be happy. Survival and instinct drove me to offer my home and attention to two cats, 5 months after my husband died.

During the first six months after the death of a spouse, surviving spouses cry nearly constantly, and I was no exception. Those of us (surviving spouses) who are parents of young children, then, usually worry about how our utter sadness is making our children feel. I could remember worrying about my parents, when they cried during my childhood. When that happened, it was not over a loss as profound as the loss of husband/father.  Given how I worried over the less significant and lasting sadnesses of my parents, I knew that my children were probably worrying about me.

I needed to stop crying sometimes. I wanted my children to have happy moments. I didn't want life to be full of sadness. I decided that my children and I needed a happy

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Listening and Getting Beyond Bad

One of the goals of EverybodysFamilyTM is to share the experience and insight gained from working successfully for many years with trauma victims.  This blog is really two lessons, but they are closely related and it works well to consider them together.  There are insights and tips for anyone trying to help a child or victim communicate, but I especially hope that attorneys, prosecutors, and victim advocates will use the pieces to get to know the client, the problem, and the issues faced by victims.

1) The challenges to simple listening

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Relating to those around and not

Why not talk to your lost loved one? Or why talk to your lost loved one? And talk to others about talking to your lost person?

Really?  It might make everyone uncomfortable. True. And it might reveal a great many insights and relieve tremendous stress.  So, I say: Go Ahead!

Other widows may disagree. My beloved grandmother, for one, firmly insisted on repeating, "He is gone, and he is not coming back," to me, when I mentioned imagining my dead husband. I wasn't delusional. I knew he was gone. I knew he wasn't coming back. But I had children to raise and finances to manage and new people

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Teachers and Child Grief

I don’t suppose there is a more challenging profession than teaching.  Children are, after all, children.  When faced with a whole bunch of them, most of us would fail miserably to address anyone’s needs, I suspect.  I speak from the personal experience of having a few extras around even for an afternoon.  I generally feel triumphant if everyone has eaten and no one is seriously injured.  Some teachers, though, make it through days with large groups of surly teenagers.  I personally, can imagine few more challenging jobs.

As a parent, I have expected much more than just academic instruction from teachers.  I have expected that the teachers of my children would notice how my child was progressing or struggling, and if there were any social concerns.  Additionally, when I needed to address the most difficult and traumatic moments in my children’s lives, I called the school and asked if they knew what I should or should not do.  The school was my partner in raising my children, not merely a place to go for academic instruction. 

It surprised me, then, that school counselors and teachers received My Dad Died© eagerly, because they didn’t feel prepared to work with grieving children despite

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Strategies for making it through

When my husband died suddenly in 2010, I felt like the proverbial camel with the broken back.   Before he died, I was working as a managing attorney of a small law firm that was mainly focused on civil rights and public interest law.  I was a trusted advocate to scores of people and a thoughtful employer and manager.  I had spent years listening and reporting about trauma to other people.  In doing the work I most loved, I had asked people thousands of questions about how they felt, and often spoke with counselors and social workers to help and support trauma survivors.  After marathon client meetings in which I had to come to know all of the details of the traumas experienced by my clients in order to present whatever case was at hand, the client and I were usually exhausted, because I had to understand their pain to understand my case.  After my husband died, I was suddenly the traumatized one.  I was physically and emotionally exhausted all the time.  I felt like a deflated balloon.  I had nothing left in me.  I couldn’t take on anyone else’s burden or pain.  I couldn’t even listen to the needs of employees.  I couldn’t bear ANY thing more.

My children were my only priority.  Taking care of them was all I could manage, and

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