“When tragedy occurs, it presents a choice. You can give in to the void, the emptiness that fills your heart … [o]r you can try to find meaning.” That’s what Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg posted online earlier this week, one month after her husband died unexpectedly. Sandberg’s post has reopened a national conversation on loss and how we handle grief, both as a society and as individuals. We’ll discuss strategies for coping with the death of a loved one.

Natalia Vigil, communications and development coordinator for Lyric, an LGBTQQ youth nonprofit and a local host for The Dinner Party, a community that brings together mostly 20- and 30- somethings over meals to talk about their loss
David Kessler, grief expert and co-author of the book, "On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief through the Five Stages of Loss"
Alan Lessik, executive director of Civicorps, a nonprofit focused on youth in Oakland
Helen Greenspan, hospice nurse at Kaiser Hospice in Oakland

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    As a widow as well as a mother who lost an infant, I loved Sheryl Sandberg’s piece because it touched on so many areas that those who have not lost a spouse or child NEED to be aware of.

    Still wince when I remember having to finally speak up and telling people that telling me ‘he is in a better place’, ‘you will see him again’ or ‘you will meet a nice man some day and remarry’ was NOT helpful or appreciated!

    Sometimes not saying any thing is best. .

  • Help Each Other Out

    Help Each Other Out is a nonprofit that offers a three hour Empathy Bootcamps in the Bay Area on what to say and not say to support the people we care about in all kinds of difficult times, because underlying so many life transitions with loss, change, and more is a need to be noticed in your suffering and listened to. Not everyone is great at holding the hard conversations, but their are certain ways to make those conversations easier. But other things are available for you to do to: thoughtful gestures from a neighbor or work colleague that can be a gift, an offer to help with something practical, or providing an opportunity for distraction.

  • Claire Britton-Warren

    From a widow engaged to a widower:
    In the year since my husband’s death I have learned more about life, love and loss than I ever thought possible. Losing a spouse is entirely different than I thought it would be. There is no such thing as “moving on” after losing a husband or wife, but there is such a thing as “moving over”. A spouse remains a part of you forever and even breathes life into the next relationship, allowing you to take all that was good and wonderful about your marriage and bring that forward. I never knew that it was possible to mourn and to live and be happy, but the heart is an amazing, flexible thing, capable of much greater things than I ever understood before. Wishing all the widows and widowers out there strength and happiness.

    • Beth Grant DeRoos

      Am always intrigued when I hear of widows/widowers who get engaged or remarry a year after their spouses death. Most seem to be younger. After shy 40 years of marriage to a brilliant man, then losing him, he made the bar so high that the thought of remarriage has never been a priority.

      • Claire Britton-Warren

        Hi Beth, I had planned to give myself a “Victorian year of mourning” before subjecting myself to the horrors of online dating at age 52. In fact when I first met Bruce seven months into it, I told him that I had decided that I was going to have horses instead of husbands! But when I realized that we had so many common interests and the common ground of having spent many years caring for our spouses as they declined and then lost them I figured that I should at least see what he was like. As it turns out, he is an absolute treasure of a man- sweet, wonderful and kind. As I told my mom recently, when you have a spouse who is dying, you are dying right along side of them. Then when something wonderful like this happens it is like being reborn.

        • Beth Grant DeRoos

          Claire Britton-Warren I am so very happy for you and wish you both many years of happiness.

          • Claire Britton-Warren

            And I wish you happiness too Beth!

  • Ginny Breeland

    My son has schizophrenia and I grieve everyday. It still goes on. Folks say nothing or the wrong thing and so forgiving has been a huge aspect to recovering. Stigma will always make my grieving silent. No one understands the loss in mental illness.i exist in a state of chronic sorrow.

  • colleen mcguire

    When my mom died suddenly and unexpectedly at my house 7 months ago the best card I received simply said “it sucks, i know” from a friend who had lost his dad a few years prior
    . So simple and so comforting.

  • Connie

    Write a family history, it helps after loss

  • MissionIsta

    Magnificent program. Transformational. Many thanks, Forum!

  • Jim Santucci

    Kara, is a non-profit in the Bay Areà that has been serving those navigating the difficult journey of grief and loss for nearly 40 years. Our peer support model delivered through our 100+ trained volunteers via 1 on 1 or group settings brings compassion and care to adults and children alike. The services and supportive environment were extremely helpful to me when my daughter died nearly 7 years ago. Now, as the agency’s director my passion is ensuring that those in grief get the unique support they need.

    Thank you for this important discussion.

    Jim Santucci

    • Laurie Panther

      Hi Jim… Your organization sounds interesting. I called into the show earlier, but was never put on line and afterwords had a huge crying jag. session.

      • Laurie Panther

        When is the last survivor from a family of seven people grief from my childhood as well as surrounding each individual’s death was complicated

        • Laurie Panther

          I don’t know why my message keeps getting cut off… I’m attempting to reach out, and instead feel more frustrated!

      • Jim Santucci

        Laurie. I am sorry for your many losses. Navigatving those periods of acute grief can be very difficult. What has often helped me after those times is holding on to a positive memory..and that often gives me a modicum of comfort. Keep well and please do look us up if you are here in the bay area.

  • Russ Button

    We lost our son to a motorcyle accident 12 years ago. He spent 3 weeks in the hospital before passing. We had to make the choice to amputate his left arm and then later to let him go. But we weren’t the only ones hurting. His high school friends kept us company at the hospital through the whole experience. There were 20 people in his room when he passed. Since then his high school friends have adopted us as a 2nd set of parents and have invited us to their weddings and children’s birthday parties. We now have this huge, wonderful extended loving family.

    The way to cope with the loss of someone you love is to remember that you’re not the only one who has had a loss. Reach to those others who are hurting and be there for them as well. Grief is just love in a different form and your loss will always be with you. But if you can remember to help those others who are also hurting, you’ll both have something special and wonderful to help you go forward in life.

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