We Lost Our Son to Suicide.

Here’s How We Survived.

By Julie Halpert

I tried many of the supports available to help parents heal, like therapy, support groups, exercise and finding a way to honor our son’s memory.

On Sept. 7, 2017, my 31st wedding anniversary, a date marked by happy memories turned tragic. That was when I learned that my 23-year-old son, Garrett, had died by suicide. Two-and-a-half years later, the news that brought me to my knees rings in my memory as if it were delivered just yesterday.

Garrett was popular, talented and loved by his many friends and family members. Yet he felt alone in his struggles. Despite our fervent efforts to get him help, he slipped through our grasp. My husband and I had to come to terms with the most brutal outcome for a parent: We could not save him.

Our son is part of an epidemic of youth suicide. He was one of 6,252 Americans ages 15 to 24 who officially died by suicide in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Any loss of a child is devastating. But a suicide death takes a particularly severe toll on the survivors. Research shows that people who are grieving a suicide are 80 percent more likely to drop out of school or quit their jobs — and 64 percent more likely to attempt suicide themselves — than those who are grieving sudden losses by natural causes.

Parents often become immersed in self-blame, said Richard Tedeschi, a clinical psychologist in Charlotte, N.C., and author of “Helping Bereaved Parents.” They can be tormented by thinking about what they could have done differently to prevent the suicide. If your child seemed to be thriving and there were no warning signs, you think you should have noticed them. If you knew your child was struggling, you feel you should have been more vigilant to prevent the suicide. There also may be stigma attached to a suicide death that makes the loss even more painful.

Despite the agony, my husband and I made a deliberate choice not to crumble. We agreed that it would not be fair to our surviving daughters to disengage and surrender entirely to the grief. They were grieving the loss of their brother, and we needed to stay present for them.

As a journalist and resource seeker desperate to get through each bleak day, I tried out many of the supports available to help parents gain comfort and start to heal.

The first involved seeking professional help from a therapist. “Sudden death is traumatic,” said Jonathan Singer, president of the American Association of Suicidology. Therapists can be especially helpful to survivors in coping with post-traumatic symptoms that often accompany suicide deaths in the form of flashbacks, nightmares and anxiety, he said.

Peer support groups, where you are joined by others who have lost a child to suicide, can be particularly helpful. “That shared sense of the journey you’re on is so reassuring, and those are the people who will remember and stand by you,” said Dr. Tedeschi. “You’re with people who get it,” added Pamela Gabbay, interim executive director of the Compassionate Friends, which runs support groups for those who have lost a child or grandchild. “That peer model is truly invaluable,” she said.

My husband and I attended a support group, facilitated by social workers, for those who lost children to suicide. Though each of our circumstances were in some ways unique, we found solace in each other, while the social workers suggested strategies for self-care and resilience.

I also joined three online groups for parents who had lost children to suicide. When I was struggling with relentless painful thoughts, I could get immediate helpful advice from others, some of whom were several years into the journey. I benefited from their wisdom and ended up connecting off-line with two mothers. One lived across the country and had a son, also named Garrett, who took his life just two weeks before mine. Another, in a different state, turned out to be someone I recently had contacted to interview for a story. I bonded immediately in phone conversations with these women as we listened intently to each other’s struggles, providing a crucial sounding board.

Experts say that both online and in-person support groups can be useful, depending on your willingness to engage with strangers. Vanessa McGann, chair of the American Association of Suicidology’s Loss Division, said that in-person groups help you build friendships in a more personal, immediate way, but it’s not always possible to find a group of parents who have lost children to suicide in your area. Online support is more widely accessible and available any time of the day. “For bereaved people, often the nights are the worst. You wake up at 3 a.m. and there’s no one to turn to,” Dr. Gabbay said.

Much research has shown the benefits of exercise in keeping depression at bay. I have exercised nearly every day since I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002, and for me it continued to be therapeutic. This includes a weekly ballet class, which I returned to a few months after my son’s death. In this creative outlet, I can momentarily lose myself in the movement and the classical music.

Dr. Christine Moutier, chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, said that for some people, exercise can be as helpful and potent as other aspects of a treatment plan, such as medications or psychotherapy. But she emphasizes that it can be difficult to get motivated to try something new when you’re reeling from a suicide death. “Go to the self-care activities you know worked for you in the past but don’t be afraid to try new things when you’re ready,” she said. She also suggests meditation, yoga and deep breathing techniques. Practicing breathing techniques for as little as three to four times a day for one minute at a time is a simple yet powerful way to lower stress-related cortisol levels and prevent your brain “from going into overdrive,” she said.

Finding a way to create meaning out of your child’s suicide can be a significant source of healing. Within a year of our son’s passing, joined by leaders in the mental health field, my husband and I established a nonprofit called Garrett’s Space to create a holistically focused, stigma-free residential center for young adults with significant mental health challenges. It’s intended to fill a major treatment gap, fostering hope and connection for young people who often feel alone in their struggles.

In many ways, this project has been emotionally exhausting, but the initiative has provided an essential way for my husband and me to feel that we are honoring our son’s goodness.

Dr. Tedeschi said grieving parents don’t have to invest the time and energy in starting a nonprofit to see the benefits. “What’s most important is to do something that benefits other people, something that is of service to others.”

There obviously is no panacea, and every circumstance is different. Time ultimately may be your greatest ally, Dr. Singer said.

“The grief will never go away completely,” Dr. Singer said, but as the months and years pass, “you’ll have longer stretches between episodes of debilitating sadness.” Dr. McGann says that eventually, the emotions that surface from the memories of your child will be positive instead of the frightening or traumatic ones surrounding his or her death.

Dr. Tedeschi and other experts also said that some bereaved parents eventually go through a period of “post-traumatic growth,” which can lead to a greater appreciation for the value of life, positive changes in relationships and a recognition of personal strength. Of course, it’s hard to view suicide loss through an optimistic lens. As for me, I must accept the life I’ve been dealt, post September 2017. And I have to find a way to live it.

Complete Article HERE!

How Men Grieve

Face this profound challenge by staying connected and finding friends who will listen

By Jackson Rainer

A friend asked with genuine concern, “How are you?”

“I’m OK. Not very happy, never am. I think the world is a pretty crazy place, but I’m OK,” I replied.

“Really? You look troubled. I’m asking because I want to know how you are … really,” she said.

Even with the loving nudge, I said, “Really…I’m fine.”

I was not fine and apparently it was more obvious than I wanted to admit. Now several years after my wife’s death, I am still feeling, with alarming frequency, the cloying sense of loss due to the absence of my “better half” with whom I lived and loved most of my adult life.

Even though I am well trained as a psychologist and have years of my own psychotherapy, I am generally loath to admit this ongoing sense of loneliness to myself, certainly not to anyone else.

Minutes before my friend’s inquiry, I was giving myself a good talking-to, thinking out loud, “You are just going to have to bear this and live with it. You are in this all alone, big boy. Get used to it.”

Defaulting Into Solitude Rather Than Connection

Understanding the way men grieve has new and deeper meaning for me as a widower. I’ve studied the phenomena as a researcher and clinician for years. Experiencing life after loss is fundamentally different territory from thinking about life after loss. Contemporary theories suggest that men and women express grief along a continuum of styles ranging from those called intuitive, centering on the expression of affect, to those called instrumental, who find physical and cognitive expression more palatable.

Men tend to lean toward the instrumental expression of grief, orienting to emotional control, a disinclination to talk about matters of the heart, to default into solitude rather than connection and to focus on action more than talk. I fall squarely in this masculine camp.

Young boys are socialized in ways that profoundly impact the expression of grief as adult men. Though the social and interpersonal needle has moved toward open expression of feeling as acceptable and desirable, most of us guys hear our Y chromosome rattle when we are asked to put words to heartbreak, confusion, vulnerability and the sense of “free-falling” without intimate support.

We tend to close down opportunities for connection and authentic support while adapting to the world in the absence of our loved one. Stoicism is valued more as a marker of independence and dignity, while vulnerability feels dangerous, weak and ill-advised.

The cultural expectation about what constitutes healthy grieving holds that to heal, a person must speak of, process and “work through” personal thoughts and feelings, sharing them out loud and in the presence of others. In this rubric, the bereaved person adapts to the world in the absence of their loved one by maximizing social support and investing in other relationships and meaningful activities.

However, for many men, the pain of grief is absorbed and processed differently. While the grief experience naturally creates opportunities to turn inward and slow to a more deliberate pace of life, when viewed through a traditional male social lens, this feels threatening, since masculinity typically is equated with striving, moving and activity.

Helpful Road Markers for Healing

So, if it is the case that men typically grieve in a different way than women, how can the experience be processed in a healthy and meaningful way? There are several road markers that are helpful:

Find a safe place to mourn. The Jungian analyst Jerry Wright says, “Go to the place you call holy and weep.” Having one or two confidants who serve as witnesses to another’s grief may enhance the sense of anchoring to the world. Those friends who can listen and be present without judgment are invaluable, particularly when loneliness feels isolating, cold and prickly.

Stay active. Depression is insidious and seductive. Withdrawing from the world leads to a sense of stuckness. As noted, there is value in finding friends who can offer activity, companionship, collegiality and time for reflection. Many men report that sharing vulnerable and tender emotions and thoughts is easier in the context of activity.

Be careful, though. There is one activity that doesn’t particularly heal: work. While throwing yourself into work is distracting, it creates distance from the time and space needed to heal. Certainly, productive activity is necessary and good to make it through the day. But work can be agitating and complicating to the attribution of meaning of the loss.

Know that there is no one way to grieve correctly. Many people hold opinions about “how you’re doing.” Most are loving, but they are like another’s clothes: they may neither fit nor be to your taste. Honest, personally felt acknowledgement of the loss and its day-to-day impact is more relevant, whatever form it takes.

For some, mustering strength and activity is effective. For others, becoming thoughtful and analytical about the death makes sense. For many men, the expression of new or unusual feelings, such as anger or living on the verge of tears, is alarming. The bottom line is found by staring the loss in its face and feeling whatever comes from this profound challenge.

Avoid clichés. Not long ago, an old friend who knows a great deal of my personal path of grief, asked after me. “I’m sitting up and taking nourishment,” I laughed snarkily, while hoping he would leave me alone. Rather than dismissing me or a making a bad attempt to provide a simple solution to my difficult reality, he said, “Let’s go to lunch and visit.” He heard past the funny cliché and invited himself into my world. We had a lovely meal and I was better for being with him.

Make contact with others. Grief teaches a hard lesson. Rather than waiting for others to seek me out, which will not happen (life goes on quickly for everyone except the mourner), I must put one foot in front of the other and find those people in places and events that entertain, satisfy and engage me. Men who mourn will need to tell others how to  invite contact. Remember to be prepared with a ‘yes’ to most invitations that come along the way, even when psychic energy is at a premium.

Be aware of holidays. Holidays and personally significant days provide psychological punctuation to our lives. Such days emphasize our loved one’s absence and bring corresponding pain. Holidays are oriented to family, tradition, continuity and familiarity. Recognizing that such days will unfold differently because of the loss will give a bit of perspective while still honoring the loved one’s death.

Watch for warning signs. Because many men are prone to run and hide from the experience of grief, real problems may emerge. The warning signs warranting careful attention are:

  • Depression lasting longer than two weeks or withdrawal from activities of daily living
  • Deterioration in family and friends’ relationships
  • Physical complaints, such as headaches, fatigue and low back pain
  • Chronic anxiety, agitation and restlessness, characterized by ruminations, obsessions or insomnia
  • Alcohol or drug abuse or dependence
  • Indifference toward others, insensitivity and workaholism

Complete Article HERE!

How to love dying people.

It can be heartbreaking to hear that a loved one facing death has decided to give up the ‘fight’. Here’s how to love them through it.


It’s mid-January. The post-holiday glow has most definitely worn off and I’m now leaning on my fave comfort food to help get me through winter. Yep, am here nibbling on some chocolate almonds while writing this to you because I’m about to dive into a touchy topic.

Let’s begin by saying…

Death is deeply ordinary. 100% inevitable. And as natural and necessary as being born.

As a society, we treat death like the enemy (instead of the goddess of wisdom that she is). We fight ‘til the bitter end, this “battle” that we won’t ever win. This battle against death (and the obsession with youth it creates) is seen everywhere in our science and culture.

Which means it can be heartbreaking to hear that a loved one facing death has decided to give up that fight. To accept what’s coming. To make peace with a battle they know they aren’t going to win. To refuse any more treatments. And sometimes, even to choose a medically assisted death.

M.A.I.D. stands for Medical Assistance in Dying and it’s been legal in Canada since June 17, 2016.

First, a few stats to set the scene. The total number of medically assisted deaths in Canada between December 2015 and October 2018 was 6,479 or roughly 1% of the estimated total deaths in Canada during that time.

It’s split pretty evenly between men and women. But those of us in urban centres are more likely to seek out these services.

There are a number of guidelines in place to make sure that MAID isn’t abused. You have to be “eligible” and of sound mind. Three doctors must all independently agree that you qualify. Currently, there’s a minimum 10-day waiting period to make sure this is really what you want. And you can change your mind – right up to the last second – if you want to.

But it’s still controversial.

MAID bumps up against our morals and ethics and religious beliefs. It asks us to think about how we want to live and more importantly how we want to die (if you even believe that you have the right to choose).

It can be agonizing to hear that a loved one is ready to die. Especially if we aren’t ready to let them go.

There’s a fantastic episode of Grace and Frankie (season 6 is out now!) called “The Party” where their friend has decided not to fight the cancer that’s returned. We watch Grace and Frankie navigate their friend’s request to throw an epic ‘exit’ party and help her die. The show deals with this subject with such compassion (and of course, their signature sense of humour) it’s definitelyworth watching.

So let’s talk this through, shall we?


Acknowledge that this is NOT ABOUT YOU

Which is hard because their death most definitely impacts you. And your ego, once it’s recovered from its shock, will start wringing its hands and wondering what your life will look like without this loved one. It’ll be afraid of losing the person you were when you were with them. And your ego will most definitely not want things to change, or the pain that comes with change. It’ll want to avoid this at all costs. Even if it means asking your cherished one to extend their life, to keep fighting, just a little longer so you can avoid the pain and grief their death will bring.

Here’s what I want you to remember: it’s not about you (no matter how much it feels like it is). This is THEIR journey. Trust that they know what they need. And, deep down your soul knows it’s going to be okay. It’s going to hurt, yes, but it’s going to be okay. So listen to your soul.

Get help

For you. Find support for yourself so that you can show up for your loved one who has chosen MAID. Maybe this looks like talking to a trusted friend, therapist, or coach.

Establish rituals that will help YOU during the transition. What do you need? Maybe you can schedule some time off. Or, one of my personal favourites is hitting the yoga mat. Allowing movement and breath to begin to allow those emotions to move through me. Maybe you can light a candle for your loved one.  Pray. Journal. Meditate. Walk. Do some kick-boxing. Take a bath. Let your intuition guide you. (more ideas for honouring your griefhere)


Be a heart with ears for your friend or family member choosing medically assisted death. We can’t ever truly know what it’s like to walk someone else’s path. But we can listen with open hearts. Connect with compassion. And if the moment calls for it? Grieve together (more ideas on how to show up for someone who’s grievinghere).


If planning is your forte help them with plans for their funeral. Or a living funeral. Or a celebration of life service. Whatever they want. A big, loud, joyful party or intimate, sacred and peaceful. There’s no wrong way to do this.

The rituals and ceremonies we create around the ending of life aren’t just a reflection of our culture or beliefs. These rituals allow us to begin processing all the complex emotions that accompany grief. They help us to take meaningful action. To gather in community. Because action is necessary to heal from loss and helping plan their ‘exit’ party can be a beautiful offering.

Shift your perspective

This is gonna fall under the category of “easier said than done” advice. But what if you saw this time together (however much is left) as a gift?

When death is unexpected one of the things grievers want more than anything…is more time. Time to say I love you. Time to just be with the person.  Even just one more day with their loved one. You’ve got that. Cherish it.


Take time to ask the questions you have to. Resolve any conflicts. Ease any discomfort between you. Above all, have honest conversations because we certainly don’t have time for bullshit in our last days on earth. And if you can’t quite say it out loud – try writing it in a letter.

When we implore our loved ones not to give up, to keep fighting, we rob them of the opportunity to go peacefully on their terms. We take away the deep KNOWING they have about their approaching death and ask them to doubt themselves. We give false hope.

We’d never ask our family member or friend to live their life according to our terms.  We can’t ask them to die on our terms.

If we loved them in life, even when life got messy (and really, when is it not messy?!) then we need to love them enough to make dying okay too.

Complete Article HERE!

Flipflops and tank tops, sockless in sandals…

and dying in Mexico

by Russ Hilderley

USA AND CANADIAN expats face a small mountain of paperwork should someone close to them die in Mexico. An even higher mountain of forms, certified translations, lists of possessions, is forced on loved ones left behind, should the deceased not have any type of ” Last Will and Testament.”

In 2019, 50,000 Canadians were living in Mexico. 182 died. 75% were from natural causes which likely does not include “seasoned” expats sidestepping sidewalk “cenotes”, tripping over abandonned building materials or struck by vehicular traffic while navigating uneven walkways and driveway indentations.

It would seem pedestrians are trampling on private sidewalks originally built by the abutting landholders, but never maintained by them. Uneven heights, slopes, broken curbs and the like can reak havoc on retirees who fly here and walk everywhere thereafter.

Two and a half million Canadians visited Mexico as tourists last year. A significant percentage are in the autumn years of their lives. They may be in Yucatan for six weeks or six months, to escape the colder climate “up north”! Snowbirds(as Canadians and residents from the northern U.S. are called) have an inherent duty to their families “back home”! All expats and tourists alike would be well advised to make it easier to cope, upon the death of a loved one. Important and critical personal information about the deceased must be available to the Mexican authorities from day one. Regardless of your country of origin, the burden is essentially the same.

The whole procedure following the death of an expat residing or visiting Mexico can be daunting for next of kin. The deceased’s identity must be thoroughly established in accordance with Mexican laws.

If the name on the birth certificate is even slightly different from their passport, the transition from one name to another MUST be explained and vertified accordingly. It is particularly cumbersome, should the deceased be a woman. Her birth name could be different through one or more marriages. In each step,the documentation will require translation to “Español” by a registered and authorized translator. The same rules apply to ALL documentation required. “The Last Will”, the identification of all possessions with current valuation held in Mexico by the deceased and the name(s) of next of kin who should be notified, must all be translated in to Spanish .

Expats are urged to maintain a special file back home, or here in Yucatan or Mexico. A designated family member or friend should be aware of this file and where it is stored. The”paperwork” could already be translated and certified. The “executor” of the expat’s estate should be identified with all neccessary contact information tucked away with the deceased passport .

Representatives from the Canadian Consulate in Cancun and similarly designated personnel from the USA Consulate in Merida, appeared before an overflow crowd of over 150 expats at Flamingos Restaurant on the Malecon in Progreso, last Tuesday January 14th,2020.

A funeral home in the Yucatan, is a primary step, to walk you through the process. Cremated remains can be exported within a day or two. A casket requires one or more weeks . The Funeral Director can not forward any valuables such as rings and other jewellry, computers etc..These must be claimed by the contact identified in the Will, or otherwise verifiable family.

Expats living in Yucatan as “Temporary or Permanent” residents should have the LONGFORM marriage certificate which is normally not issued but available in the State or Province where the marriage was performed. This document and your birth certificate should be carried with you as you travel.

Most travellers are optimistic and excited about spending their vacations and retirement without giving much thought to the consequences if they die abroad. Sure,they may have medical and life insurance but forget all the details and information required to repatriate their remains.

To use the now famous phrase quoting reknowned Woody Allen,when asked what would happen to his fortune when he dies, he replied: “If I can’t take it with me, I’m not going” !

We all wish it was that simple!

Complete Article HERE!

James Blunt breaks down in powerful music video starring dying father:

‘We’re just two grown men saying goodbye’

James Blunt with his father, Charles Blount.

British singer-songwriter James Blunt is best known for his sentimental heartbreak ballads “You’re Beautiful” and “Goodbye My Lover,” but his latest single “Monsters,” a tribute to his ailing father, is his rawest and most poignant yet.

In his devastating new “Monsters” music video, an anguished Blunt, in an extreme close-up reminiscent of Sinead O’Connor’s iconic, one-take “Nothing Compares 2 U” clip, stares down the lens, his eyes welling up with tears, as he sings: “I’m not your son, you’re not my father/We’re just two grown men saying goodbye… So Daddy, won’t you just close your eyes?/Don’t be afraid, it’s my turn/To chase the monsters away.”

Blunt struggles to maintain his composure throughout the first half of video, so much much so that it’s almost uncomfortable to witness. And when the camera finally cuts to a wider shot, it becomes clear why he is so distraught, that he isn’t acting, and that his tears are very real. Sitting stoically beside him is his real-life dad, former cavalry officer Colonel Charles Blount, who is battling stage 4 chronic kidney disease.

Last year on Good Morning Britain, Blunt spoke of his father’s serious illness and made a plea to possible organ donors, saying: “I’ve come on here to ask you what blood group you are. Some things have been going on in my life that I needed to write about. My father has not been very well, actually. He needs a new kidney and a kidney donor. And I’ve come on here to ask you what blood group you are. If you are an O-positive, I’ll take it off you.” (Blunt revealed that, sadly, he is not a match.)

On the same U.K. morning program, Blunt spoke of the experience of writing “Monsters” after learning of his father’s kidney disease, explaining: “Really that has been an amazing moment, because when you realize your father’s mortality, it’s a great opportunity to say the things I’d like to say to him.”

Fans, particularly those who have lost a parent or who are preparing to say goodbye to a sick parent, have taken to social media to praise the touching video, which went viral after William Shatner tweeted it to his 2.5 million followers.

Complete Article HERE!

Startups Are Dying To Give You A Better Death

By Anes Alic

“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” no longer.

This phrase, generally used during burial ceremonies, suggests that every life will one day come to an end. Today, the flurry of startups businesses seeking to change timeless traditions is challenging even this. Now, one can obtain eternal life by becoming compost witnessing rebirth as a tree.

Traditional funerals, in the form of cremation, embalming and burial, are now giving way to new alternatives with the emergence of new funeral startups that aim to disrupt the overpriced services sector by offering something cheaper and better.

The market they are targeting is sizable. With nearly 2.6 million deaths every year in the United States, a new class of entrepreneur sees plenty of opportunity to innovate.

Considering the fact that 41.4 million Americans live below the poverty line and that 40 percent of US citizens cannot afford an unexpected expense of just $400, it is clear that a majority of Americans would be unable to absorb the average cost of a funeral, which sits at around $8000.

Due to the nature of the business (that everyone is bound to use the service at some point) it was long believed that nothing could jeopardize the funeral industry. Yet, due to the high cost and availability of cheaper alternatives, it seems that all sectors of the industry have been reporting losses over the past decade.

Currently, the coffins and caskets market is worth some $550 million, but that belies an annual decline rate of 3.6% over the last five years. That rate is expected to accelerate to about 4.1% in the next five years. Skilled embalmers have been particularly hard hit, with employment in that profession declining 28% in less than 10 years.

Back in 2015, cremation surpassed traditional burial rates across the country for the first time, largely because of consumer attempts to reduce costs associated with funerals.

However, for environmentally conscious Millennials, even cremation is out of the question because the process emits some 270,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year. That is equivalent to the CO2 from 22,000 homes, or the emissions of 50,000 cars.

Millennials, as tech-savvy and environmentally conscious consumers, are driving the popularization of “green burials”, which are both affordable and involve fewer synthetic chemicals.

Green burials cost an average of $2,000, which includes a plot and environmentally friendly casket. For those who desire even more eco- and wallet-friendly solutions, there is an option to ditch the tombstone and chose a GPS marker instead.

Composting is also on the rise as a unique way for one to give back to the planet more directly. The process involves sealing a body into a container with wood chips, alfalfa and hay and adding heat to stimulate microbial munching.

There are still a few legal issues to be resolved around the compost funeral, but the world’s first funeral home dedicated to composting human beings is set to open in 2021 in the state of Washington, the first state to legalize such services last year.

An even newer trend is the “tree burial” during which ashes are placed in the soil with a seed to plant a tree that won’t affect the tree’s natural DNA.

There are also green burial options that aren’t wallet-friendly, and far surpass the traditional funeral costs. One such option is the space burial in which ashes are launched into space via a rocket.

And how about Cryonics? At a cost of a minimum of tens of thousands of dollars, a handful of companies are willing to preserve a body in the hope that one day the technology will exist to bring the deceased back to life.

The funeral industry though it was immortal. It’s not. Today’s consumers, even beyond the grave, want options and startups are more than willing to give them those options.

Complete Article HERE!

Breathing New Life Into Death

5 Tech Companies From Female Founders Making Sure No One Grieves Alone


There’s a movement afoot, and as the new Broadway Beetlejuice show suggests; it’s all about death. From Death Cafes and Death Over Dinner, to the surge in new Netflix shows like Dead To Me and After Life, new life is pouring into old conversations about death. After decades kept firmly backstage, people are talking about death and grief, and bringing difficult conversations into the limelight.

Until now, the typical North American death-phobic response we have upon hearing of someone’s loss is reduced to a quick, “I’m sorry for your loss,” on Facebook. We may send flowers, or a card, but these often feel like empty gestures that do little to really support anyone. Most people who have just lost someone they love are in very real need of help, and fast. Traditional supports seem antiquated, expensive, and worse – impersonal.

Fortunately, help is here. In Baltimore, Chicago, New York, and Seattle, a group of female founders are on a mission to revolutionize death care and make sure no one grieves alone. Motivated by their own experiences with death, these women have created easy-to-use, thoughtful tools to help people navigate loss. Of course, death sucks, any way you look at it. No online tool can bring our loved ones back. But these women are working hard to normalize conversations about death, and make it easier – much easier – for people to help each other through grief.

First, meet Brooklyn-based Liz Eddy and Alyssa Ruderman, who co-founded Lantern to provide people with step-by-step guidance on how to navigate their lives before and after a death. When Liz’s Grandma died, she turned to Google in search of answers to her myriad questions about everything from funeral planning to closing accounts. What she found was a morass of unwieldy content, and none of the hand-holding she was looking for. So, Liz and Alyssa created Lantern, as a single source of guidance and information for end of life and death planning. It’s free to use their custom checklists and get help making your loved one’s funeral or celebration of life, everything you want it to be. I love that Lantern makes people feel empowered at a time in their lives when control is hard to come by.

Once you’ve survived the funeral, the daunting realities of grief come tumbling down. Litsa Williams and Eleanor Haley co-founded What’s Your Grief after they each lost a parent. Based in Baltimore, Litsa and Eleanor have built an incredible suite of practical and specific content and resources to help grieving people find a path forward. With their focus on education, exploration and expression, What’s Your Grief offers articles as well as affordable online courses on topics ranging from how to sort through a loved one’s belongings or develop strategies for surviving the holidays while grieving.

If you’re looking for ongoing grief support, Seattle-based Grief Coach sends personalized text messages all year long, based on your loss. And if you have friends and family who want to help, but aren’t sure how, they’ll receive tips and reminders too. Everyone’s messages will be customized based on things like cause of death, age, and your relationship to the person who has died.

I was inspired to create Grief Coach after the death of my husband and (a decade later) his best friend. After delivering the eulogy at my friend’s funeral, I was overwhelmed by the countless friends and family members who wanted to apologize for not having been there for me when my husband died. They were afraid, they said, and just didn’t know what to do. I created Grief Coach to answer the question of “I want to help, but don’t know how,” so that no-one would have to grieve alone.

Also in Seattle is Laura Malcolm, who founded Give InKind after losing her daughter. Laura had people around her who she knew wanted to help, but instead found herself in a room literally overflowing with flowers with no idea what to ask for, but a long list of things she wasn’t able to cope with on her own.

Give InKind brings together care calendars, fundraising, and wishlists. If you’re looking for a way to coordinate support, raise money for funeral expenses, and make it easy for friends and family to support you after a loss, GiveInKind is a great place to start. It’s free to create a page, and from there you can invite others to join and contribute.

And finally meet Ali Briggs and Rachele Louis in Chicago, who founded LifeWeb 360 after a friend’s brother died unexpectedly. As the years passed, Ali’s friend saw people’s memories of his brother fading away. He was worried that he couldn’t remember the sound of his brother’s voice anymore. LifeWeb 360 is a multimedia scrapbook that makes it easy for people to join together to collect and share memories that are then stored and shared online.

These eight women have created five valuable tools that recognize the power friends & family have to make a difference, after a loss.

LA mortician, Caitlyn Doughty, captures the no-nonsense spirit of these founders best, reminding us that; yes, there’s a movement afoot – but we don’t want to be a movement. Death is part of life, and what we really want is to normalize difficult conversations and bring death & dying into our day-to-day lives.

With founders like these women taking the reins, I have no doubt that we’re moving quickly towards a world where everyone has the help they need, after a death.

Complete Article HERE!