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John James, founder of The Grief Recovery Institute

John W. James

Founder of The Grief Recovery Institute®
Co-Author of The Grief Recovery
Handbook & When Children Grieve

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Russell Friedman, Executive Director of The Grief Recovery Institute

Russell Friedman

Executive Director
Co-Author of The Grief Recovery
Handbook & When Children Grieve

Featured Article

Normal and Natural reactions to the death of someone important to you.

Grief is the wide range of normal and natural reactions to the death of someone important to you. The seven most common reactions are:

  • Numbness
  • Reduced Ability to Concentrate or Focus
  • Crying or NOT Crying
  • Lowered State of Energy—Not To Be Confused With Clinical Depression
  • Disturbed Sleeping Patterns and Dreams and Nightmares
  • Irregular Eating Patterns
  • Roller-Coaster of Emotions
If you’re reading this, it’s likely that someone important to you has died and you’d like some guidance about the feelings and thoughts you’re experiencing. Or, you may be reading this because you are connected to and concerned about someone who’s just experienced a death, and you’d like to have more awareness about what they’re going through, and what you can say or do to be helpful to them.

Confusion About What Is Normal In An Unfamiliar Situation

While it’s true that grief is the normal and natural reaction to a death, fortunately most of us don’t have that experience very often, making it unfamiliar. Also, grief is not generally an open topic for conversation in our society, and a great deal of the information available to us about grief is not accurate or helpful.

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Ask John & Russell – You can be strong or you can be human. Pick one! (Published 8/19/2014)


I lost my mother about 23 years ago and my oldest sibling took over the responsibility of being mom to myself and 7 other sisters and brothers. Three years ago we lost one sibling, a girl who was fifty years old. I held on tightly to the older sister for support and she also passed away last March. I have one other sister but we are not as close as I was to this sister. I really don't want to live anymore but again I have my own children and my two deceased sisters children totaling 9 kids. I am so distraught and close to giving up but all theses kids need me. How do I be strong?

Russell Friedman Replies:

Dear Pauline,

Thanks for your note and question, and thanks for being so totally honest about how overwhelmed you are with the responsibilities you’ve taken on and the burden of essentially doing it alone.

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Find Local Support

If you or someone important to you wants help with grief: Look for a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist℠ in your community. The Grief Recovery Institute ® trains and mentors Certified Grief Recovery Specialists℠ throughout the United States & Canada.

See Russell and John's blog at Psychology Today

Workshops & Training Schedule

The Grief Recovery Institute ® offers Certification Training programs for those who wish to help grievers.

  • August 2014
    Omaha, NE - Aug 8-11, 2014
    Singapore - Aug 11-14, 2014
    New York, NY - Aug 15-18, 2014
    Houston, TX - Aug 22-25, 2014
    Tampa, FL - Aug 22-25, 2014
  • September 2014
    Billings, MT - Sept 5-8, 2014
    Portland, OR - Sept 12-15, 2014
    Cleveland, OH - Sept 19-22, 2014
    Moncton, NB, Canada - Sept 26-29, 2014
    Los Angeles, CA - Sept 26-29, 2014
    Wilmington, DE Sept 26-29, 2014

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