John W. James
Founder of The Grief Recovery Institute®
Co-Author of The Grief Recovery
Handbook & When Children Grieve
Co-Author of The Grief Recovery
Handbook & When Children Grieve
Where were you when I needed you?
The saddest question we ever hear is, "Where were you when I needed you?"
That's what people ask when they find out what we do in helping grievers. We're presenting helpful and accurate information on this site, at the time you need it most, with the hope that you'll never need to ask that question.
It's an honor and a sad privilege to be addressing you, knowing that each of you has recently experienced the death of someone important to you. We also know some of you are reading this because of your care and concern for someone who is confronted by the death of someone important in their life.
We bring our personal experience in dealing with the deaths of people who were important to us, and our professional know-how in helping grievers for more than 30 years. We'll help you distinguish between the "raw grief" that is your normal and natural reaction to the death, and the equally normal "unresolved grief" that relates to the unfinished emotions that are part of the physical ending of all relationships.
A basic reality for most grieving people is difficulty concentrating or focusing. With that in mind, we asked Tributes.com to print our articles in a large type font to make them easier to read. Sharing our concern for grieving people, they agreed.
From our hearts to yours,
John & Russell
Articles & Media
Father’s Day 2013 - My Dad, Babe Ruth, and the Ball That’s Still in Orbit
In the kind of emotional reviews our minds and hearts make on chronicling days like Father’s Day, we often discover a level of appreciation that we’d never realized or expressed directly to our dads in exactly the way we now feel it.
In one of those almost automatic reviews I made years ago, I realized just how much it meant to me that my dad had spent so many hours playing baseball with me when I was a kid. I was pretty sure I’d always thanked him, but I knew that I had never sat down with him as an adult, and told him just what it meant to me.
Fortunately, when I had that awareness, my dad was still alive. On impulse, I booked a trip to Florida to visit him, with the express purpose of expressing my appreciation to him. [Yes, my dad, like me, loved word play.]
That trip turned out to be one of the best impulses I ever had and followed. It was a little hard for my dad to sit still and accept the compliments and thank yous I was giving him, but he managed to take it in, if only barely.
However, it really opened up his memory bank. Since we were talking about baseball, my dad told me in vivid detail about the time he’d pitched to Babe Ruth in spring training. Although I already knew most of the story, I was not about to rob him of the joy of telling it again.
My dad was a semi-pro baseball player back in the 1930’s when there were industrial leagues with teams fielded by the larger corporations. One year, my dad and one of his pals had managed to get themselves invited to participate in the New York Yankees’ spring training camp.
As luck would have it, my dad was put in a game to pitch to Babe Ruth. Dad said Ruth hit one of his pitches so hard and far, that it’s probably still in orbit somewhere. Later that day, The Babe invited dad and a bunch of the other young guys to go bowling with him. They had a blast.
Dad remembered that The Babe called him and everyone else “kid.” Turns out The Babe was such a big drinker that he never remembered anyone’s name, and “kid” became the universal greeting so he didn’t goof up anyone’s name.
A few years after that trip I made to Florida to have that chat with my dad, he died, at age 93. Needless to say, on the day I got the call that he died, one of my first memories was of that trip and the story dad told me about his innings with The Mighty Babe.
The Memories Keep Coming
My dad’s death was not the end of my memories of my life with him and of the discoveries of other things that I wish I’d talked to him about. Nor was his death the end of events in my life that I wish I could have shared with him.
In December, 2010, I was privileged to attend the Kennedy Center Honors, as part of the entourage of one of the honorees, Jerry Herman. Jerry wrote Hello Dolly and Mame and other Broadway shows. In addition to being with our friend, Jerry, we got to spend a lot of time with the other four honorees, Oprah, Sir Paul McCartney, Merle Haggard, and Bill T. Jones. You may have heard of some of them.
Equally thrilling, was that we met and chatted with and had our picture taken with the President and First Lady at the White House. We were also part of an elegant evening at the State Department. And much, much more.
Can you imagine how much I would have loved to share that whirlwind weekend with my dad? In a way, it is my Babe Ruth story. One of those magical, once-in-a-lifetime things that most of us only dream of.
And because my dad wasn’t alive for me to share it with him, it became a new piece of unfinished emotional business that needed to be completed by sharing it with one of my confidants.
It was not a complicated communication, but an emotionally important one for me. My friend listened as I talked about how exciting it had been, as an American citizen, to be in the White House and actually talk to the President, and how sad I was that dad wasn’t here to share it with me. Although my words were directed to my dad who wasn’t there, they were being heard by someone I trusted.
As I neared the end of what I needed so say, tears sprouted in my eyes. When I finished, my friend offered me a hug, which I gratefully accepted.
Sports Linked Me To My Dad and To The President
Since sports was a usual theme of my relationship with my dad, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that sports was the topic of my short chat with the President. You see, I met the President just a few days after an incident in which he had had 12 stitches in his mouth after getting elbowed in a basketball game.
The odd connection was that on the day the President got hurt, I was playing golf with Rudy Tomjanovich, himself a former professional basketball player and coach who was once involved in an infamous incident in which he’d gotten hit in the face during a basketball game. The President was very aware of that event and asked me to give his regards to Rudy T—which I did. As you can see, the thread of sports in my life and its connection to my father is a very strong emotional bond, one for which I am exceptionally grateful. Although I think of my dad often, every Father’s Day ups the ante and puts him on the front burner of my mind and heart.
And I get to have the joy of my memories as I share a little bit of my dad with you. I hope you will follow my lead and share your memories with the people close to you, not only on Father's Day or Mother's Day, but everyday.
© 2013 Russell P. Friedman, John W. James and The Grief Recovery Institute®. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint this and other articles please contact The Grief Recovery Institute at email@example.com or by phone, 800-334-7606.
The Boston Marathon Bombing, The Aftermath: Loss of Life, Loss of Safety, Loss of Trust, and Loss of Innocence
April 15, 2013, the date of the Boston Marathon bombing, joins the list of dates we’d rather not remember, but we can’t forget. It takes its sad Read More »
Post-Holiday, Grief-Related Blues!
Logically, for many grieving people, the holidays are difficult enough, especially the first season after someone important to them has died. But Read More »
Not following impulses leads to unfinished emotional business—aka Unresolved Grief!
Today I feel compelled to write about a personal loss, that just happens to be one of the national obituaries currently featured on the home page of Read More »
Newtown, Connecticut—Our Grief, Because We Are The Family Of Humankind
Certain events have the power to propel us into an emotional numbness, as if a hidden thermostat inside our hearts shuts us off. The pain is too much Read More »
Veterans Day—Lest We Forget
In its day, World War One was called "The War to End All Wars." Sadly, it wasn't. WW I officially ended on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day Read More »
Dealing with Grief During the Holidays
Dealing with Grief During the Holidays While there are other critical dates and times that affect grieving people, the holiday season is the biggest Read More »
We Never Forget The Important People In Our Lives.
We recently received a note from a woman named Linda, who had a child die, and who interacts with other parents who’ve also experienced the death Read More »
On Crying—Part Two
In Crying—Part One, we focused on the idea that it can be dangerous and counterproductive to attach our personal ideas and beliefs to how other Read More »
On Crying—Part One
Almost everyone has some questions and confusion about crying. How much crying is enough? If I start crying, will I be able to stop? Do I have to Read More »
9/11: The Aftermath, Loss of Life, Loss of Safety, Loss of Trust, and Loss of Innocence
By Russell FriedmanSeptember 11, 2001 now lives in our language in the same emotional way as December 7, 1941 and November 22, 1963. Nearly everyone Read More »
Am I Going Crazy?—An all-too frequent question from grievers.
“Since my mother’s death, I’ve had the experience of being in one room, deciding to go to another room to do something, and when I get there, I Read More »
Father’s Day 2013 - My Dad, Babe Ruth, and the Ball That’s Still in Orbit
In the kind of emotional reviews our minds and hearts make on chronicling days like Father’s Day, we often discover a level of appreciation that Read More »
What a Difference a Day Makes—Lest We Forget!
Memorial Day as we know it today began as Decoration Day in 1866, in upstate New York, after the cessation of the Civil War. First conceived as an Read More »
Mother’s Day! Remind Me—Remind Me Not—Remind Me
In mid-April there are two things you can count on in the United States. One is the due date for filing your tax return. The other is the arrival of Read More »
BECAUSE WE ARE THE FAMILY OF HUMANKIND
BECAUSE WE ARE THE FAMILY OF HUMANKIND [March 11, 2011]At 11:15 PM on March 10th, 2011, my heart was burning and my stomach was churning. I was Read More »
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 Read More »
Valentine’s Day—For Many, The Most Painful Holiday
The traditional Holiday Season begins around Halloween, continues through Thanksgiving, crests with Christmas and Hanukkah, and ends with New Read More »
Our Reaction to The Tucson Tragedy – Because We Are the Family of Humankind!
Within a two year span, from February 1, 2003 to December 26, 2004, we used the title “Because We Are the Family of Humankind!” for articles we Read More »
Uh-oh, it’s that time again. Grief and the holidays
Many Grievers Wish They Could Skip The Holidays And Jump From Late October To Mid-January The holidays are approaching. A joyous time. A festive time Read More »
Stages of Grief: Are There Actual Stages Of Grief?
Is there any truth behind the idea that grief and loss recovery comes in stages?We are often asked if there are actual stages of grief or grieving. Read More »
Is It Ever Too Soon To Recover?
Conflicting opinions from a wide variety of sources confuse the question of when to begin a process of completing what was left emotionally Read More »
Why Won’t Anyone Let Me Feel Sad?
If we were forced to quantify the problems grieving people encounter, there’s no doubt the number one offense they must confront is being told that Read More »
Six Major Myths – The Short Version
There are six major myths about grief that are so close to universal that nearly everyone can relate to them. This is true not only for those of us Read More »
Do I Have to Cry To Grieve?
"My father died recently. I have been very sad, but I have not cried. Do I have to cry to grieve?"That is a question we get all the time from people Read More »
When Your Heart Is Broken, Your Head Doesn’t Work Right And Your Spirit May Not Soar
For most people, the immediate response to the death of someone important to them is a sense of numbness. After that initial numbness wears off, the Read More »
If I Start Crying Will I Be Able To Stop?
Grieving people sometimes hold back their tears based on the fear that if they start crying, they won’t be able to stop. To the best of our Read More »
Time Doesn't Heal - Actions Do
I have heard that it takes two years to get over the death of a loved one, five years to get over the death of a parent, and you never get over the Read More »
I’m Fine And Other Lies!!!
Approximately 20% of your ability to communicate is verbal, leaving about 80% as non-verbal. Non-verbal communication includes tone of voice as well Read More »
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: Read More »
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.
Workshops & Training Schedule
The Grief Recovery Institute ® offers Certification Training programs for those who wish to help grievers.
December 2013Houston, TX - December 6 - 9, 2013
Louisville, KY - December 6 - 9, 2013
Tampa, FL - December 6 - 9, 2013
Toronto, ON - December 6 - 9, 2013
January 2014Phoenix, AZ - January 17 - 20, 2014
Los Angeles, CA - January 24 - 27, 2014
Vancouver, BC - January 24 - 27, 2014
Columbus, OH - January 24 - 27, 2014