David Fireman's Blog (22)

New Free Resource at The Center for Grief Recovery

Dear Reader,

In an effort to better serve clients, colleagues, and the general public, the Center for Grief Recovery (the Center) is providing this free website-based bibliographic resource to broaden and deepen your knowledge and access to grief recovery related materials. Our aim is to support, encourage, offer hope and guidance to anyone, free of charge, wrestling with the meaning of their lives and the lives of loved ones in the wake of loss.

Materials included have been…


Added by David Fireman on October 19, 2013 at 9:08am — No Comments

Grief In The Workplace

At the Center for Grief Recovery, we often find that our services are needed in response to a sudden loss in the workplace. The following outline has been used to help groups cope with such situations. The ideas in it, however, are applicable to many different kinds of loss experiences.


The first step in dealing with a death in an institution or workplace is to stop the normal activities and reschedule so that employees can come together to share their thoughts…


Added by David Fireman on November 18, 2012 at 8:51pm — No Comments

Loss and Change in Bereavement Counseling

Grief comes in many different forms and in response to many kinds of losses. Sometimes an existential crisis occurs in the context of loss and grief. In addition to returning to their pre-loss functioning and what has been good and satisfying in the past, many clients find that grief counseling helps them reflect on areas of the self that may need fleshing out and development. For some individuals, loss can become a call for fuller development of their humanness. Since life truly is not the…


Added by David Fireman on August 4, 2012 at 5:27pm — No Comments

Sibling Loss

In American society we suffer from long-standing patterns of anxiety and denial about death.  Perhaps as a result, in our grief and mourning processes, we’ve learned to cope with our powerful reactions with self-control and “strength.”  It seems we are socially conditioned to be stoic, to “move on,”  “get back to work,” “be strong.”  These habits severely limit our freedom to grieve naturally and openly for any loved one we’ve lost.…


Added by David Fireman on March 21, 2012 at 9:00am — No Comments

Loss Is Hard Enough

Loss is hard enough, but when the environment won't or can't surround us in our loss with consistent comfort and useful resources, then it becomes even harder.  There's a term being used in the bereavement literature called complicated mourning or traumatic grief reaction.  These are often used interchangeably.  In my experience virtually all loss experiences are complicated and traumatic to a certain degree.  In any case, there are ways in which the natural grief process can get distorted,… Continue

Added by David Fireman on October 19, 2011 at 10:00am — No Comments

Walking Through Grief--Together

Last Saturday, The Center for Grief Recovery hosted its first-ever fundraiser walk to celebrate 25 years of service to the bereavement community.  The day was hot, but there was a cool breeze off lake Michigan and the trees offered nice shade. 


A group of 60+ people attended the walk, which began with welcoming remarks, a brief history of the Center and its mission, and an invocation by the Center's KC Conway, LCSW. 


Before the walk commenced, participants…


Added by David Fireman on June 7, 2011 at 11:30am — No Comments

Declaration of Values for Communal Grief

At the Center for Grief Recovery, we work primarily with individuals.  But individuals make up groups and groups make up communities.  These days we have both physical and virtual communities.  As the world around us continues to show signs of chaos, it seems increasingly important for places of coherence to come into being.  Place of coherence establish a sense of order, purpose, reliability, and predictability.  Perhaps we can think of community as a potential place of coherence.  In…


Added by David Fireman on June 1, 2011 at 11:00pm — No Comments

Communal Grief

We are born knowing how to grieve.  As children, we cry naturally to feel better, to let go of our pain, to release the burdens of pent-up emotions.  It helped us lessen the weight from our shoulders.  Positive expressions of grief are helpful to us.  It is the lack of such expression that leads to chronic tension and dissatisfaction in life and even aggression and violence.


But there are actions we can take as a community to promote the healthy and safe expression of intense…


Added by David Fireman on April 20, 2011 at 5:00pm — 1 Comment

Why Grief Counseling?

Many people wonder about grief counseling.  What is it?  Why should I do it?  It's hard enough to go through this with friends and family.  What's meeting with a professional going to do for me?


We know that the searing pain of losing a loved one can be endured with the right kinds of support.  For example, studies show that…


Added by David Fireman on April 14, 2011 at 10:00am — No Comments

Managing The Holidays

Holidays Can Be Difficult

No matter what your religion or lack thereof, the holiday time can be most trying. The holidays stir up memories of the past, evoke powerful feelings, and force us to compare our life situation to that of the perfect family portrayed on television.

Memories of the past are tied to this time of year. Many people have traditions which are sanctioned by religion, but many also have traditions which are more secular… Continue

Added by David Fireman on November 30, 2010 at 8:34am — 3 Comments

Holistic Grief Scale

Grief is the natural, healthy, spontaneous, unlearned, normal, emotional, healing process that occurs after a significant loss.

Grief is experienced uniquely by each of us, and is often experienced in waves, with emotions, thinking, physical, social and spiritual/religious responses coming and going in terms of the intensity, duration and order of our reactions to the loss.

One of the keys to coping is awareness. Awareness is helped if you can learn about yourself. This… Continue

Added by David Fireman on May 28, 2010 at 2:46pm — 15 Comments

Does Time Heal All Wounds?

Occasionally, I am asked by students of the helping professions really compelling questions. Recently, a whole set of questions came across through the Center’s website. After responding, I decided to post my answers. What follows are the questions a student asked me along with my answers to help her complete an assignment.

1. What do you think about the phrase, “Time heals all wounds.”

Time in itself—unlucky for us—does not heal all wounds. I think it was Lilly Tomlin who said,… Continue

Added by David Fireman on May 12, 2010 at 4:58pm — 2 Comments

Assigning Meaning To Tragedy

As human beings we struggle with the notion of meaning. Perhaps one of the best discussions of this issue comes from Victor Frankl's, "Man's Search for Meaning." Frankl discusses his own experience as a survivor of Nazi concentration camps and how he worked to find some kind of meaning from the events he lived through. Based upon Fankl's philosophy, it seems that meaning is something we assign with our mind rather than something inherent in the event itself. If so, then we are faced with the… Continue

Added by David Fireman on May 6, 2010 at 5:24pm — No Comments

Expressing and Processing Emotions in Grief Therapy Part Two

The proper atmosphere for grief therapy should be a combination of warmth (gentleness) and structure (firmness). The mixture of these two, provides a safe place to express and analyze the difficult feelings surrounding loss. A feeling of safety is needed to help moderate the anxiety associated with sharing intense emotions. But learning also requires that a certain amount of anxiety be present. Too much and we cannot take in what is going on. Too little and motivation to learn may be… Continue

Added by David Fireman on April 24, 2010 at 8:00am — No Comments

Anniversary Reactions

An understanding of anniversary reactions is especially important for grievers who have suffered their loss a year or more ago. Even if we are not consciously aware of our emotions, our psychological clock will be extremely accurate. Significant days or events from the past will stir feelings which we may act out. For example, I worked with woman who every Spring found herself overwhelmed by uncontrollable bouts of crying. Her ability to concentrate at work suffered, and she became… Continue

Added by David Fireman on March 20, 2010 at 4:00pm — 10 Comments

New Dates for The Center's Healing from Our Losses Grief Recovery Group

At our counseling center, we have found many people benefit from meeting with others who are going through similar loss circumstances. The opportunity to connect with and learn from each other while the group process is facilitated by a professional is a powerful combination.

One of the many things we have learned about the grief journey is that the faster a person allows for the expression and processing of emotional content, the more likely they are to be able to cope with and be… Continue

Added by David Fireman on March 1, 2010 at 1:11pm — No Comments

Expressing and Processing Emotions in Grief Therapy Part One

In setting up grief therapy, which focuses on the expression and processing of emotions, it is necessary to look at the blocks to the free and appropriate flow of emotion. We can assume that within each of us there is a struggle to share painful feelings. A part of us wants to and a part of us holds back. The part of us that holds back uses a variety of techniques for blocking expression. As therapists at the Center we ally ourselves with the part of each person that wants to openly look at… Continue

Added by David Fireman on March 1, 2010 at 1:00pm — 2 Comments

Losing Jerry

As a result of a comment made in reference to my most recent blog entry, "The Howl of Grief," I have decided to share something a bit more personal. In spite of my role as a therapist, I believe there are appropriate ways for myself and other therapists to share some of our own personal experiences with grief. What follows is an exerpt from a paper I wrote entitled, Psychotherapy and Existential Crisis in the Fourth Decade of Life, presented at The National Association of Social Workers a few… Continue

Added by David Fireman on February 25, 2010 at 5:30pm — No Comments

The Howl of Grief

There is a phase in the grief process that feels like fragmentation. There are few words that can describe the gut-wrenching pain of this part of grief. Many people say it's like their self is being torn apart or that the anguish they feel coursing through their body is unbearable.

While I believe everyone experiences grief uniquely, it has been my experience that making room for the expression of anguish and emotional pain, is critical to healing. I believe the rage and howl of… Continue

Added by David Fireman on February 2, 2010 at 7:00am — 2 Comments

A Grief Out of Season

We are not prepared to lose a friend and colleague in the span of a weekend. We are not prepared to have death come to us so suddenly, unexpectedly, almost assaultively. Work is the known world—the place for demonstrating our strength and competence, our viability to exact predictable results. We are broadsided by the news of sudden, violent, and senseless death. And it is as if, for a moment, time stands still, as we take in the information that a person of youth and promise, our friend and… Continue

Added by David Fireman on November 19, 2009 at 7:17am — No Comments

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