How Friends Can Help

Tips for Friends to Help a Widow
1. Stay connected. There is already a huge gap in a widow’s world. Never assume that she needs space to grieve alone.
2. Say out loud that you are sorry for the loss and relate a personal story about the loved one. A widow would rather you tell her that you do not know what to say than to say nothing or tell your story of losing a friend or relative. She may be able to listen to your story later, but not now. Do not say you know what she is feeling or that you understand.
3. Make your offer of help specific, Can we go for a meal or walk together; I’m at the store can I bring you something; may I run an errand for you, or meet me for coffee tomorrow at ten.  Please don’t just say, “Call me if you need anything.”
4. Refer to her late husband’s life, acts or words, serious or humorous. It’s a comfort to know he’s remembered, missed and not forgotten.
5. Invite the widow to anything from an event to a chat over tea. She may decline but will remember and appreciate being asked. Even as half of a couple, invite her.
6. Accept that grief is not linear and is a transition. The widow is where she is. Death comes in many ways and death and so is her own unique journey through grief. It is not a psychology textbook outline or timeline. Don’t be grief police.
7. Follow up with any suggestions. Do not make polite offers such as “I’ll call and we can go out to dinner” and then not follow up. A widow may be looking forward all week to the outing. Be sensitive to grieving and involve the widow. At least say that you have been thinking of them and make a plan to get together that you will keep.

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Melanie in the Morning – Radio Interview

December 20th, 2011 9:00 am on the Melanie in the Morning talk how at KMUZ FM 88.5 Salem, Oregon (listen online – go to the website and click red square “KMUZ Online Radio”

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Grieving is Essential to Change

Grieving is essential to change. Grief actually serves a good purpose when dealing with change. Grieving is the process of reconciling yourself with new circumstances, with a changed world. Without grief, change would paralyze you; drive you insane. Before people can reconcile themselves to change, they must go through the grieving transition cycle. No exceptions. There is no shortcut or way around.
When you are experiencing a great change and the process of grieving, here are some tips for successfully making it though the process.
1. Change threatens your assumptions and beliefs. You face a new reality. Realize that not changing is not an option. What is not changing are your core values.
2. The threat of change leads to fear — often expressed as anger. Honor and understand the fear — explicitly explore the worst outcomes that can be imagined, along with the worst outcomes of not changing.
3. At this stage, you probably want to hold on to as much of the past as possible. However, keep your focus on the present and the future purpose — the goals that need to be achieved through change. Don’t relent. Don’t discount commitment to your purpose. Stay loose on the rest.
4. Don’t even entertain thoughts of giving in and giving up. Never stop fighting. The risk is that you will get stuck there in prolonged grief. Instead, provide yourself a future vision, a picture of the new normal. Make the new tangible.
5. Accept and celebrate. Create a ceremony of acceptance around the changes you are going through. Build trust and confidence in the possibilities.

Change is inevitable, even necessary. But it is not easy. Grief is part of the process and grief is good in helping you let go of the past so you can embrace the future.

Thank you to

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Healing Symbols


From statues to scholarships to crosses, there have been hundreds of tangible and intangible memorials to commemorate the lives of those who died. None of the ordinary ones could bring solace to Abigail Carter, a Canadian woman who lost her husband Arron in the fateful September 11th attack. “Certain icons represented death or more specifically, a 9/11 death. They are symbols of a more universal mythology; they certainly do not apply to the man I knew and loved,” she wrote in 2005 article. Carter said she had to find her own way to grieve and it came in the form of a birdbath, a book and a personal blog.

After having returned from the first anniversary ceremony at Ground Zero, Carter searched for a way to remember her husband. She turned to her husband’s pet name for her – “Bird.” Carter and her children, Olivia and Carter, built a birdbath adorned with butterflies, birds, a brown cow, golden retriever, a horse and a moon – all symbols of the love they shared as family. She also started to write, and through her words she finally began to heal. “It was very cathartic as well. I was writing and crying and writing and remembering,” she says.

Find your own healing symbols. Honor the one you lost with a personal symbol and by living your own life to the fullest.

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Comfort Food


1½ lb winter squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 2″ chunks
3 onions, peeled and quartered
3 garlic cloves, peeled and diced
3 Gala apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 2″ chunks
2 tablespoons olive oil (for roasting)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 sprigs of rosemary
3 cups of vegetable broth stock
2 tablespoons half & half milk

Preheat the oven to 400° F. Place the winter squash chunks, onion, garlic, rosemary sprigs and apple chunks in a large ovenproof casserole dish. Pour olive oil over the vegetables and stir until lightly covered. Sprinkle with salt and chili powder and bake for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Remove the roasted vegetable fruit mixture from the oven and take out the rosemary sprigs. Heat vegetable stock in a large saucepan and add the roasted vegetable-fruit mixture. Cook over medium heat for 5-10 minutes, until squash, onion and apples are tender. Puree the mixture and broth ingredients, adding half and half milk, in a blender. Serve hot or cold.

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