Updates


Helping Yourself Heal When Someone You Care About Dies of a Drug Overdose (link)

by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.

PDF version

Posted: Jun 19, 2019


The International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day Conference on November 23, 2019

George K Stein, Director of Services, Helping Hand Grief Support

Save The Date: Saturday, Nov 23, 2019

I am the cofounder and director of Helping Hand Grief Support of Medford, New Jersey.  Every year we partner with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to host the International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day conference.  This conference will provide survivors of a loved one’s loss due to suicide, with education, compassion and support.

The conference will be held at the Fellowship Alliance Chapel located at 199 Church Road, Medford, New Jersey, from 8:30 am to 1:00 pm on Saturday, November 23rd, 2019 at the facility nearest to Church Road.  After entering the building there will be signage to direct participants to the conference location.  A continental breakfast will be served along with beverages.

We are asking for your help in locating any of your customers who have been touched by a suicide, and who would benefit by this conference.  Additionally, since we are a full service grief organization, you may use us as a referral to others who have had any type of relationship loss due to the death of a loved one.  We have been providing weekly support meetings for the past twenty-five years.  Our meetings are held on every Monday evenings at the same location between 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm. Closed on major holidays.

There are no fees associated with this conference or our continuing weekly meetings.  For further information  we can be contacted at telephone: 609-953-7333 ext. 309 

Thank You for your consideration and attention,

George K Stein

Posted: Jun 02, 2019


A Resource for Bradley & Stow Funeral Home

The grief journey for an individual is, without question, a difficult time in one’s life. A caring person, who is genuinely concerned about your wellness, offering to come along side you during this journey can make a noticeable and positive difference.

The same can be true of organizations specializing in bereavement, with “compassion and understanding” as an inherent and continuously active part of their mission.

BSFH: “Bradley & Stow Funeral Home has become known in the community for service with “compassion and understanding” that brings comfort and hope to the families they serve.” (source: “About Us”)

HHGS: “Through the love and “compassion” of those who have also experienced the loss of someone loved, we strive towards “understanding” and reconciliation.” (source: “Our Mission”)

Bradley & Stow Funeral Home and Helping Hand Grief Support are two dedicated resources who share a common mission, thereby augmenting their available services to allow walking alongside the bereaved during their journey in the grief process.

See Grief Support on Bradley & Stow Funeral Home’s Web Site

Posted: Jul 29, 2015


A Choice To Make … Living Or Just Survive!

“With the trauma of finding my 22-year old daughter in her bed, passed away from an unknown heart condition, I wanted to crawl in a cave and not ever come out,” shared Dolores Humphrey

The founders of Helping Hand Grief Support, George and Wanda Stein, met with Dolores and told her she had a choice to make. She could either go on living or just survive.

Read the rest: Connection – February 2015: Helping Hand Grief Support

Posted: Feb 26, 2015


HHGS Offers Encouragement, Support and Comfort, Monday – February 9, 2015

Wanda and George Stein of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, experienced one of the most painful situations anyone could go through: the loss of their child.

Nearly 26 years ago, 20-year-old John Stein, George and Wanda’s only child, passed away after being hit by a car while he was crossing the street.

“I think the only way you can deal with something like that is to really take one moment at a time,” George said in an interview on Seeking Solutions with Suzanne, a nationally broadcast information show.

Read the rest at: Mr Beams’ “Bright Ideas” or the PDF version

Posted: Feb 26, 2015


“Alliance of Hope” added to “Links”

Posted: Mar 11, 2014

“The Alliance of Hope for Suicide Survivors, a 501(c)3 charitable nonprofit, provides healing support for people who have lost loved ones to suicide. It was founded in 2008 by Ronnie Walker, a licensed clinical mental health counselor who lost her stepson to suicide in 1995.” [Alliance of Hope: About]


Suicide Bereavement and Complicated Grief

(click image above for PDF version)

National Center for Biotechnology Information

Posted: Jan 27, 2014


Hiking in Suicidal Patients: Neutral Effects on Markers of Suicidality

Methods

This prospective, randomized, crossover study evaluated the effects of hiking in high-risk suicidal patients (n = 20) who performed 9 weeks of hiking (2-3 hikes/week, 2-2.5 hours each) and a 9-week control period.

Conclusions

Hiking is an effective and safe form of exercise training even in high-risk suicidal patients. It leads to a significant improvement in maximal exercise capacity and aerobic capability without concomitant deterioration of markers of suicidality. Offering this popular mode of exercise to these patients might help them to adopt a physically more active lifestyle.

The American Journal of Medicine

Posted: Dec 12, 2013


Letter from Marty Berglund, Senior Pastor

Posted: Sep 03, 2013


What Is Complicated Grief?

Complicated grief is an intense and long-lasting form of grief that takes over a person’s life. It is natural to experience acute grief after someone close dies, but complicated grief is different. Complicated grief is a form of grief that takes hold of a person’s mind and won’t let go. People with complicated grief often say that they feel “stuck.”

For most people, grief never completely goes away but recedes into the background. Over time, healing diminishes the pain of a loss. Thoughts and memories of loved ones are deeply interwoven in a person’s mind, defining their history and coloring their view of the world. Missing deceased loved ones may be an ongoing part of the lives of bereaved people, but it does not interrupt life unless a person is suffering from complicated grief. For people with complicated grief, grief dominates their life rather than receding into the background.

The term “complicated” refers to factors that interfere with the natural healing process. These factors might be related to characteristics of the bereaved person, to the nature of the relationship with the deceased person, the circumstances of the death, or to things that occurred after the death. People with complicated grief know their loved one is gone, but they still can’t believe it. They say that time is moving on but they are not. They often have strong feelings of yearning or longing for the person who died that don’t seem to lessen as time goes on. Thoughts, memories, or images of the deceased person frequently fill their mind, capturing their attention. They might have strong feelings of bitterness or anger related to the death. They find it hard to imagine that life without the deceased person has purpose or meaning. It can seem like joy and satisfaction are gone forever.

The Center for Complicated Grief

Posted: Dec 23, 2012


New Targeted Therapy Helps Overcome Disabling Grief

Complicated Grief  (see NIHM – 13)

Recent research has identified the public health significance of a previously overlooked syndrome in adults who have lost a loved one. Complicated grief, a seriously debilitating condition with symptoms similar to both depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), affects about 10% to 20%7,8 of people suffering the loss of a loved one, or about one million people a year. While grief and depression are generally normal and adaptive responses to loss, in complicated grief the feelings of loss and disbelief do not go away after several months and become disabling, often for years. A targeted treatment developed specifically for complicated grief showed a better response in bereaved individuals when compared with interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), a proven treatment for grief-related depression. The targeted grief treatment employs techniques used to treat depression but which are modified to include PTSD therapies that address issues of trauma and loss-specific distress. In a randomized controlled trial of 95 individuals with complicated grief, 51% of those treated with the targeted therapy showed improved scores on various measures of depression, compared with only 28% showing improvement from IPT. Thus, by using a targeted treatment specific to the features of complicated grief, many with this debilitating condition can once again become productive and lead pleasurable lives.

Read full article

Posted: Dec 23, 2012


Where is God When It Hurts? by Albert Y. Hsu

Family and Community Ministries, 25(1), 19-­‐29

CHRISTIAN LEADERS SUMMARY
Helen Harris

Albert Hsu begins most of the chapters in Grieving a Suicide with a question. That is appropriate given the thundering pain and questions when survivors deal with the aftermath of the suicide of someone they love. In Chapter 8, the author takes on a question commonly found both in grief literature and in the literature of major religions. Where is God when it hurts? Where is God when I hurt? If God is God and if God cares for me, how could a powerful and caring God allow this to happen?

Hsu begins answering this question with the story of two soldiers during World War II: one a Jewish resistance fighter who survived Auschwitz to later kill himself; the other a German Nazi who became a Christian theologian. One saw the horrors of the world and despaired. One saw the possibilities of God in the world and found hope. Hsu explains the difference by discussing the importance of our awareness of the suffering of God, i.e. the capacity of God to feel completely with us and for us.

God is then, says Hsu, not a removed God who lets bad things happen to us, but a loving God who allows free will to play out and then walks with us through the pain. “The only possible solution to the suffering of humanity is that God exists and has taken suffering upon himself” )Hsu, 2002, p. 120). How then do we understand our sense of abandonment in such circumstances? Hsu turns to the writing of CS Lewis and notes “God’s seeming absence during grief is simply because of the traumatic nature of grief”
(p. 121).

The author relates two apparently paradoxical biblical stories from the Gospel of Luke. The first is the story of Jesus not returning with his parents at the end of the Passover in Jerusalem. In this instance, they thought he was with them; he was not. The second is the story of the pilgrims on the road to Emmaus. They thought Jesus, who had been crucified was not with them; he in fact was. Hsu concludes that God is with us when our pain is deepest, even when we do not know it. “In our grief and loss, Jesus comes alongside us. He is not intrusive, but he is available to break bread with us and rekindle our hope”
(Hsu, 2002, p. 122).

Hsu, A. Y. (2002). Grieving a suicide: A loved one’s search for comfort, answer & hope.
Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press Books.

Dr. Helen Harris is a Senior Lecturer in the Baylor School of Social Work where she teaches Advanced Practice and Loss and Mourning. Dr. Harris’ professional experience includes 8 years in residential child care and 13 years in hospice work.

Posted: Dec 22, 2012


How to Respond to Bereavement or Grief at Work

1 – Human Resources

Sorrowful things happen to your employees and coworkers. These are the people with whom you spend the most time nearly every day of the week. When bad things happen to your coworkers, you can be profoundly affected, too – and you also want to know what to do.

What is appropriate when a coworker loses a parent or a child? How do you express sympathy when a coworker announces a terminal illness or a family member injured seriously in an accident? There is no formula and dealing with tragedy and sorrow is never easy.

But, these ideas should help you know what to do about employee bereavement and grief when, inevitably, tragedy strikes an employee or coworker in your workplace.

Whatever else you decide to do in response to your coworker’s bereavement and grief, a sympathy letter is always appropriate. Here’s my new sympathy letter template with a sample sympathy letter to help you get started:

2 – Write a Sympathy Letter

Start your sympathy letter on your normal stationery with your name and address and date. Or, if you have chosen to hand write a note on a card or piece of stationery, start with the date.

Dear (Employee Name),”

Start your letter with a description of the event and your sympathy. Depending on your relationship with the employee, you need to write a company note, but you might also want to write a second, personal note. The focus here is the company sympathy letter.

Example: “We want to express our sympathy for the recent loss of your mother. Losing a close family member is always sad and we want you to know that we are very sorry for your loss.

Offer to assist the employee during the grief period without obligating company resources or setting a precedent that you will be unable to offer to all employees.

Example: “Please let us know if there is anything that we can do to assist you as you deal with the loss of your mother.

Posted: Dec 21, 2012


Journaling Your Way Through Grief

By Catherine Greenleaf
Journaling is a very powerful method of healing. The visceral act of writing words down on paper can assist you in releasing pent-up sadness and grief. After my loss, I had so many conflicting emotions, I wasn’t sure what to do with them all. My suicide bereavement therapist suggested I go down to the local CVS pharmacy and buy myself a spiral-bound notebook. She said, “Write down how you feel.” I know during my worst times of grief after the suicide, my journal was my best buddy. I poured all my anger, resentment, bitterness, hatred, confusion and despair into the pages of my journal. I ended up with thirteen journals!!!!! But I had released so many negative emotions, and in the process, I felt lighter and freer and more willing to start living my life again.
In my journal, I wrote many “anger letters” to my loved one. These letters asked him: why did you leave me? why did you choose such a method to die? did you ever stop and think how I would be affected by your leaving? I got all the anger and rage out of my system by writing these letters to him. With every letter I wrote him, I felt more and more peace of mind.
It’s important to remember that this is YOUR journal. You don’t have to share it with anyone (although I have read a few passages to my therapist over the years.) Keep your journal in a private, secret place that no one can find. Your writing is sacred and no one has the right to violate your privacy and read your words unless you give permission.
Today, my journal is part of my morning ritual. Each morning, I sit down with my hot cup of green tea and my journal. I write down how I am feeling AND I TELL THE TRUTH. When someone on the street stops and asks, “How are you?” it’s always very tempting to just say: “Oh, I’m fine,” and walk away. But with a journal I can be completely honest. After such a devastating loss, I found I was hungry for honesty — from myself and from others in my life. My journal keeps me honest — and free of pent-up emotions.

Posted: Dec 09, 2012


Looking Back, Moving Forward

“Do not let the manner of a person’s death obscure the meaning of a person’s life.

However tragic the nature of a persons death may be, their legacy is not how they died but how they lived, what they stood for, how they loved, how they made life better for others.”

Dr Michael B. Brown, Marble Vision, 9-11: Looking Back, Moving Forward
 

Posted: Nov 22, 2012


CONCERNS & GOALS

“Begin with the End in Mind” (quote by Steve Covey)

(something to do, someone to love, something to hope for)

  • Grief journal – do it faithfully.
  • Ability to forgive – learn what it means.
  • Deal with and let go of anger issues.
  • Create a memory bank – draw from that memory bank often.
  • Deal with your loneliness issues.
  • Deal with your guilt, blame, and shame issues.
  • Choose the positive memories to dwell on.
  • Work to resolve the negative issues.
  • Read a Psalm from Holy Bible each day.
  • Find something to be thankful for (feelings follow thinking).
  • Give your sorrows to God in prayer.
  • Find a place to “empty your bucket” (cry).
  • Get out of your way while healing.
  • Live “on purpose”.
  • Laughter is a tranquilizer (with no side effects).
  • Sing when you don’t feel like it.
  • Get up when you don’t feel like it.
  • Do what you have been delaying for 15 min.
  • Love with insight. Cope, just a letter away from Hope.” (Wandaism)
  • Take the high road – leads to better life.
  • Be real at all times.
  • Pass on the “bait” – it will “hook” you.
  • You are in “it”, going into “it”, or coming out of “it.”
  • Know your top 3 needs every day.
  • Be careful who you give your “last straw” to.
  • You’re first! (like placing the oxygen mask on you first during an airline emergency).
  • Choose thoughts carefully, no “stinking thinking”.
  • Do for yourself as much as you would do for others.
  • Find a friend you can do nothing with and enjoy it.
  • Be very careful with assumptions.
  • Reminder: a brief life is not a life without value.
  • Understand you will never understand everything.
  • “We live in a 2-story world, our story and their story – Listen”. (Wandaism)

Posted: Jan 31, 2013


“Should You Go First …”

“Should you go first and I remain to walk the road alone, I’ll live in memory’s garden dear with happy days we’ve known. In spring I’ll watch for roses red when fades the lilac blue. And in early fall when brown leaves fall I’ll catch a glimpse of you. And should you go first I remain to finish with the scroll, no lengthening shadows shall creep in to make this life seem droll. We’ve known so much of happiness and we’ve had our cup of joy, But memory is one gift of God that death cannot destroy. Should you go first and I remain for battles to be fought, Each thing you’ve touched along the way will be a hallowed spot. Oh, I’ll see your face, I’ll hear your voice and though blindly I may grope, The memory of your helping hand will bore me on with hope. And finally and should you first and I remain, one thing I’d have you do, Walk slowly down that long lone path for soon I will follow you. And I want to know each step you take that I may walk the same. For someday … down that long lone path … you’ll hear me call your name.”

George Younce, 1930-2005 – A. K. Roswell’s poem, “Should You Go First,” from “Beyond the Sunset” on the Cathedral Quartet’s 25th Anniversary.

Posted: Nov 03, 2011