Sweaters, shoes, a favorite coffee mug, the pen always angled a certain way - items, big and small, form the landscape left behind when someone dies. Nicole Leslie was 15 when her mother died and at first it was too painful to go through her things. A few years later, as she and her sister began the process, Nicole discovered clothing she had never seen her mother wear before. This discovery became the originating point for Nicole's turn to fashion and creativity as ways to express her grief. She started Remembrance Wardrobe, a blog where she posts photos of herself wearing outfits that are a combination of clothing from her mother, grandmother, and her own collection. She pairs each outfit with a line from her mother's poetry, opening a window into the life of a woman who lives on in Nicole's memories and creative expressions.
Check out all of Nicole's posts at Remembrance Wardrobe.
When grief enters our world, many of us expect to cry and feel frustrated, but we aren’t as prepared for the intense fear and worry that can also be part of loss. Someone being 10 minutes late getting home sparks visions of a car crash or getting a call from the hospital. A random ache or feeling extra tired leaves us thinking we must be dying. Maybe sleep eludes us as we spin over how to do day to day life without our people. Sometimes the hardest part about anxiety is how it can catch us off-guard, either because we’ve never dealt with it before, or because the anxiety we already knew well has ratcheted up to untenable levels.
Claire Bidwell Smith, a licensed counselor, author, mother, and grieving daughter recently published her new book, Anxiety, the Missing Stage of Grief, that delves into all the ways anxiety can be part of grief. Before Claire was 25, both of her parents died of cancer. Her adolescence and young adulthood were deeply etched with their illnesses, treatment, and deaths. Out of this devastating grief grew her desire to help others facing similar situations.
Be sure to visit Claire's site to learn more about her work.
When someone dies, many of the people left behind seek out formal sources of help like a therapist or traditional support group. What happens though when those avenues don’t feel like the right fit? This is what Carla Fernandez and Lennon Flowers, co-founders of The Dinner Party, ran into after they both lost a parent to cancer in their early twenties. Since their first gathering in 2010, The Dinner Party has grown to over 275 hosts in 100 cities. It is a community made up of those ages 21-40 who are seeking connection, friendship, and meaningful conversations about grief and how it affects our lives.
Check out The Dinner Party to find a table near you or start one in your community.
The list of things that are hard to do when you’re grieving is long - eating, sleeping, focusing, surface-level chit-chat, remembering where you left your phone, planning for the future, or forgiving yourself for the past. Throw work or school into that mix and it gets really tough to feel like you can show up and function at the same level you're used to. When Alica Forneret went back to work after her mother's sudden death, she found the opposite of what she needed in terms of support. That experience inspired her to explore ways companies and organizations can better support their grieving employees as well as small things each of us can do to attend to our grief in the workplace.
Alica Forneret writes for a number of publications and websites, including, SAD Magazine, Modern Loss, and Vancouver Magazine. She also created the Dead Moms Club lapel pins as a way to express grief more publicly and connect with others who are grieving their mothers. Check out Alica's website with articles, resources, and even recipes for supporting yourself and others who are grieving in the workplace and beyond.
In grief, having the opportunity to tell your story can be vital. Grieving children and adults want the chance to talk about the people they are grieving and express how these losses have altered their lives. StoryCorps, a non-profit working to preserve and share the stories of people from all backgrounds, recently launched a new project in partnership with the New York Life Foundation called Road to Resilience, Memories That Move Us Forward. As part of this project, StoryCorps is partnering with children's bereavement programs across the US to offer grieving children and their adults the opportunity to record a conversation and tell their story. The Dougy Center is honored to be one of those partnership sites. Our guest, Modupeola Oyebolu, is a national facilitator with StoryCorps and she joins us to talk about what it's like to grieve both in the US and her home country of Nigeria, the power of storytelling, and resilience she's witnessed in recording conversations with grieving families.
Check out Olivia's featured Road to Resilience story.
What is it like to grieve for a father you know only from stories and photos? In August of 2018, Joy Wallace traveled to Tinian Island to see the place where her father, Kenneth, died when the plane he was flying as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army Air Corp in World War II crashed. Joy's father died three months before she was born and she grew up with a longing to visit the place where he died. Her trip, which was filled with synchronicities, broke open the grief she'd been carrying for over seven decades.