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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

Am I Paranoid, Or Are People Really Avoiding Me?

The simple answer to the question posed in the title of this article is, “No, you’re not paranoid, people really may be avoiding you.”

Even though you may feel like you’re slogging though emotional quicksand, in some respects you might have a heightened awareness of what is going on around you. In particular, you may sense people are avoiding you or changing the subject—away from the cause of your grief—if and when they do talk with you. As a result, you may feel as if you are being evaluated, judged, and criticized.

You may wonder why people who usually talk with you will avoid you or change the subject when you have been affected by a death. In part it’s because most of us were socialized to isolate when we were sad: “Laugh and the whole world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone.” So, if it’s true that we need to grieve alone then it follows that others do also.

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Ask John & Russell – Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide - from birthdays, holidays, and other reminders. (Published 3/24/2015)


My only brother died near the end of 2007. Mom got sick with cancer and died in the summer of 2008, and Dad died of a heart attack (broken heart) in the fall of 2008. 3 deaths within 10 months. I was completely blindsided. I did see a grief counselor for about 6 months. Each day I was reminded of them somehow. Every month it seems like it’s their birthday, Mothers day, Fathers day, their death anniversaries. I have not been able to let go of anything that was Mom and Dad's yet. I have excess of everything. Songs make me cry, flowers in my yard, etc.. I'm more depressed than happy. Yes, I’m on meds. Any help or advice would be so much help.

Russell Friedman Replies:

Dear Tracey,

Thanks for your note and request for guidance.

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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.

    March 2015
    Richmond, VA - March 13-16, 2015
    Perth, Australia - March 19-22, 2015
    Calgary, AB, Canada - March 20-23, 2015
    Los Angeles, CA -March 20-23, 2015
    Saltillo, Coah, Mexico - March 27-30, 2015
  • April 2015
    Melbourne, Australia - April 9-12, 2015
    San Francisco, CA - April 10-13, 2015
    Memphis, TN - April 17-20, 2015
    Denver, CO - April 17-20, 2015
    Omaha, NE - April 24-27, 2015
    Winnipeg, MB, Canada - April 24-27, 2015
    Monterrey, NL, Mexico - April 24-27, 2015

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