I Did Not Know What To Say Blog

Posts Tagged ‘grief’

Grief Healing Telesummit – March 10 -18, 2014

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on February 11, 2014

Grief Healing Telesummit:
Enjoy free access to 17 amazing speakers who share their best information to help you transform grief into healing and living again!

Free Registration at www.griefhealingtelesummit.com 
March 10 -18, 2014
Please share with those with a grieving heart!


Look at this amazing line up of experts!
I Did Not Know What To Say
The Grief Toolbox Toolbox
What’s Your Grief
Peace & Wellness Centere
Embrace Your Inner Self
Simply Kerryy
Dorothy Fitzer
Global Association of Holistic Psychotherapy
With Sympathy Gifts & Keepsakes,
Tina Games, Michael Mapes, Margaret Paul, Maggie Chula, Uma Girish, Tabitha Jayne and
Transcending Loss: Understanding the lifelong impact of grief

Posted in Grief Resources, Grief Resources - Newsletter, Grief Support Discussion Topics, Grief Support Workshops, What Not to Say to a Grieving Loved One, What to do for someone that is grieving | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

I Did Not Know What To Say Newsletter Archive

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on July 18, 2013

I Did Not Know What To Say Newsletter Archive

Over the last several years we have provided articles and interviews on a variety of topics on how to assist a loved one through the journey of restoring balance in their life after a loss. I have put together a resource list below for you to explore and/or pass on to a loved one that might benefit from these tools. 

If there is a specific topic that you would like us to include in one of our upcoming newsletters, please email us.

Understanding Grief 

Are Grief & Depression the Same Thing? 
by Mark D. Miller M.D.
Dr. Miller explores the differences between Grief and Depression.

Helping Dispel 5 Common Myths About Grief
by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.,
Alan D. Wolfelt’s article describes five of the most common myths about grief. Through understanding and overcoming these myths we can find positive ways to help ourselves and others heal. 

Anticipating Grief
by Cheryline Lawson
Cheryline’s article gives an overview of how anticipating the loss of a loved one that is terminally ill can affect family, friends and the person who is dying.  

How to Support and Care for a Grieving Loved One

What To Say… When You Don’t Know What To Say 
by Lori Pederson, Founder, I Did Not Know What To Say
Finding the words to support a loved one through the grieving process.
What Not to Say to a Grieving Loved One  
by Lori Pederson, Founder, I Did Not Know What To Say
Knowing what not to say can be just as important as finding the right words to comfort a  loved one when they are grieving.
by Ann Leach, President, Life Preservers: a global grief support community
Ann’s article will give you concrete ways to provide support in the simplest of ways to a     
grieving loved one.
by Lori Pederson, Founder, I Did Not Know What To Say
Helpful way to assist your love one find fun & adventure again. 
by Joan Hitchens, Storybooks for Healing
Tips on how writing about a loved one can be an effective tool for those grieving to process their feelings and help them restore balance in their life.
by Lori Pederson, Founder, I Did Not Know What To Say
After the loss of a loved one, there is nothing more important you can do for a friend than being a good listener.  The Gift of Listening offers 10 Tips on how to improve your listening skills.
by Jill Rheaume, Creator, Our Stressful Lives
Jill’s article will explore healthy ways to handle the little and big stressors in your life. 
by Tamar Fox
Tips to take into consideration if you’re called on to bring food to a family member or friend who’s ill, recovering from surgery, or dealing with a recent loss. 
by Lori Pederson, Founder, I Did Not Know What To Say
You just received a phone call letting you know that your friend has lost a loved one. You now have a decision to make…What kind of supporter do you want to be? 
by Lori Pederson, Founder, I Did Not Know What To Say
Tips on how to choose a sympathy gift that expresses your deep concern.
by Lori Pederson, Founder, I Did Not Know What To Say
Sharing gratitude to those that have provided support during a loss.

Walk Beside Me and Be My Friend
by Nan Zastrow 
Explores how relationships can change after the event of grief. Some relationships will strengthen, some relationships will end and new relationships will begin.
Please Cut the Grieving Some Slack
by Maribeth Coye Decker, Sacred Grove Bodywork
This article reminds us that we are all human and that we need to let kindness and forgiveness guide us when we encounter strange behaviors from those that are grieving.

Reaching out to the bereaved and getting no response
by Robbie Miller Kaplan, Author How to Say It, When You Don’t Know What to Say
Explores the reasons why someone may not respond when they are grieving and how to not take it personally.

How to Talk to Someone Who is Grieving
by Rachel Walton, MSN, CRNP
Rachel’s article offers many valuable suggestions on how to talk to and more importantly listen to someone who is grieving.

Effective Communication Skills During Grief and Mourning Following a Family or Relationship Death
by Rick Goodfriend
Rick Goodfriend’s article offers several useful suggestions on how to communicate effectively with a loved one that is grieving. 
Interview with Robbie Miller Kaplan – How to Say It, When You Don’t Know What to Say

How to Support a Grieving Loved One during the Holidays
The First Holidays After a Loss – How You Can Offer Your Support
by Lori Pederson, Founder, I Did Not Know What To Say
Tips on how to support a grieving friend or family member as they experience the holidays for the first time without their loved one.
Helping Children Grieve during the Holidays
by Miri Rossitto founder of Valley of Life memorial website & author of
A Guide to Children and Grief
Useful suggestions on how to assist a grieving child express their feelings of sadness as well as honor the memory of the loved one that passed away.
by Lori Pederson, Founder, I Did Not Know What To Say
Having the support of friends and family during the holidays can make all the difference. Sometimes support and love are the best gifts you can give a friend that is grieving.
by Lori Pederson, Founder, I Did Not Know What To SaySometimes the perfect gift is not perfect at all. It is your willingness to look awkward and not know what to say, and yet still show up and be there for a friend that is grieving that matters most.
by Lori Pederson, Founder, I Did Not Know What To Say
Holidays can be a difficult time for those that are grieving. We have compiled a list of 12 simple and meaningful ways to support your grieving friends this holiday season.

Thanksgiving Memories: Love, Loss and Good Eats
by Gloria Arenson, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist 
A wonderful reminder of the simple ways to remember a loved one during the holidays.

How to Support a Grieving Window/Widower

by Marcy Kelly, Author of From Sorrow to Dancing
Marcy has provided us with her insights and suggestions on how to assist a grieving widow.
by Carole Brody Fleet, Author of Widows Wear Stilettos
Carol offers several fun filled suggestions on how to get through – and even enjoy Valentine’s Day when you are a widow or on your own.
by Taryn Davis, Founder, The American Widow Project
Writings & Tips for those who know someone who has lost their hero in the military.

How To Date/Marry A Widow or Widower
by Ellen Gerst
Grief and Relationship Coach, Ellen Gerst, offers several practical suggestions on how to be sensitive to your partner’s loss and at the same time grow your relationship.

Interview with Pat Nowak – ABC’s of Widowhood 

Interview with Ellen Gerst – Love After Loss: Writing The Rest of Your Story 

Interview with Carole Brody Fleet – Widows Wear Stilettos 

Interview Marcy Kelly – From Sorrow to Dancing 

Interview with Lori A. Moore – Missing Andy 

Interview with Michael Corrigan – A Year and a Day

Interview with Jennifer Hawkins – The Gift Giver

Suicide Survivors

Helping a Suicide Survivor Heal
by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.
Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D. article provides many useful strategies on how to support your friends and family dealing with this type of loss.

The Myths Surrounding Suicide
by Catherine Greenleaf
Catherine Greenleaf offers insightful information on how to assist a loved one that is a suicide survivor.

Interview with Catherine Greenleaf – Healing The Hurt Spirit: Daily Affirmations for People Who Have Lost a Loved One to Suicide

How to Support a Grieving Mom

What Grieving Moms Want for Mother’s Day: The Comfort Company Offers 10 Simple Ways to help Moms Cope When Mother’s Day Hurts
Survey conducted by the Comfort Company – What Grieving Moms Want for Mother’s Day is a compilation of over 200 survey responses on how you can help the grieving moms in your life cope with Mother’s Day.

Broken Angel
by Janet Kohn, Co-Founder The Broken Angels Grief Support Group
Janet offers a simple, yet profound way to explain to friends how grief changes parents who have lost a child to substance abuse.

Am I a Mother – Tips for Handling Mother’s Day After Miscarriage
by Lisa Church of HopeXchange
Lisa Church’s article explores how to ease the pain of the loss of a pregnancy and how to find hope and healing.  For friends and family, Lisa’s article is a great resource on how to offer your support on Mother’s Day.

Loss from a Miscarriage and Stillborn 

Interview with Veronica Janus – Abundantly More  

Interview with Laura Smith – In All Things Giving Thanks When Hope Seems Lost 

How to Support a Grieving Dad

by Kelly Farley, Founder of the Grieving Dad’s Project
Many men feel alone in their grief after the loss of a child. Kelly Farley, Founder of the Grieving Dad’s Project, offers many ways to support grieving dads by sharing his personal story.

Interview with Kelly Farley – Grieving Dads: To The Brink and Back

Loss of a Parent

Mother’s Day Remembrance
by Lori Pederson, Founder, I Did Not Know What To Say
Tips on how to support a loved one who is grieving the loss of their mom on Mother’s Day.
by Janell Vasquez of Memories are Forever
Janell’s article offers many suggestions on how to create a lasting tribute by designing a personalized memory book to honor your father’s memory. 
What to Do on Father’s Day When Dad is Deceased
by Laurie Mueller, RTC, ID, AED, Med
Laurie Mueller offers practical tips to honor the important men in your life that have passed away.

Interview with Chelsea Hanson – Sympathy Matters Collection

Loss of a Pet  

Loss of a Pet – How to Bring Comfort to a Grieving Friend
 by Lori Pederson, Founder, I Did Not Know What To Say
Lori’s article offers several suggestions on how to support a friend that is grieving the loss of their beloved pet.

Support & Resources for Traumatic Loss and Natural Disasters

Natural Disaster Recovery Guide
by Dwight Bain
Dwight Bain’s article is an insightful look at the emotional side of disaster recovery.

Resources for Traumatic Loss 
Resources and helpful tips on ways to support those that are grieving in the wake of a tragedy. If you have a resource to share, please email us at info@ididnotknowwhattosay.com

How to Support a Grieving Child

Interview with Lynn S. Combes – A Garden Full of Butterflies

Posted in Children Grief Support, Father's Day, Gratitude, Grief Resources, Grief Resources - Newsletter, Grief Support & Holidays, Grief Support Discussion Topics, Holiday Grief Support, Loss due to Suicide, Loss of a Child, Loss of a Father, Loss of a Mother, Loss of a Parent, Loss of a Pet, Loss of a Sibling, Loss of a Spouse, Men & Grief, Military Loss, Miscarriage, Mother's Day, Share Your Story, Thanksgiving, Virtual Book Tour, What Not To Say, What Not to Say to a Grieving Loved One, What to do for someone that is grieving | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting® – Sunday, December 9, 2012

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on December 8, 2012

Guest Post from Compassionate Friends

Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting®

Letter from TCF Executive Director on Worldwide Candle Lighting in Annie’s Mailbox December 2, 2012

The Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting unites family and friends around the globe in lighting candles for one hour to honor and remember children who have died at any age from any cause. As candles are lit at 7 p.m. local time, hundreds of thousands of persons commemorate and honor the memory of all children gone too soon.

This year’s event will be the 16th Worldwide Candle Lighting. The event grows larger every year thanks to the many people who see the need for services where none have existed. And as the word continues to spread to more of the bereaved who wish to celebrate lives gone too soon by lighting candles in their home, quietly, perhaps just with friends and family.

Now believed to be the largest mass candle lighting on the globe, the Worldwide Candle Lighting, a gift to the bereavement community from 146249_WCL12-322x322pixelCompassionate Friends, creates a virtual 24-hour wave of light as it moves from time zone to time zone. Hundreds of formal candle lighting events are held and thousands of informal candle lightings are conducted in homes as families gather in quiet remembrance of children who have died, but will never be forgotten.

The Worldwide Candle Lighting started in the United States in 1997 as a small Internet observance but has since swelled in numbers as word has spread throughout the world of the remembrance.

In 2011, information was submitted to TCF’s national website on services in 18 countries outside the United States including 550 services, as this special day continues to grow. TCF has been joined in recent years by chapters of several organizations including MISS, MADD, Parents of Murdered Children, SIDS Network, Gilda’s Club, Boys and Girls Clubs, and BPUSA and for several years services have been held in all 50 states plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. There is no way to know how many hundreds of additional services open to the public are held in the U.S. and around the world each year without the information being sent to us.

The Compassionate Friends and allied organizations were joined in 2011 by local bereavement groups, churches, funeral homes, hospitals, hospices, children’s gardens, schools, cemeteries, and community centers. Services have ranged in size from just a few people to nearly a thousand.

Every year you are invited to post a message in the Remembrance Book which will be available, during the event, at TCF’s national website. In 2011 in that short one day span, more than five thousand messages of love were received and posted from every U.S. state and Washington D.C., every territory, as well as dozens of other countries, with some posts in foreign languages.

Here in the United States, publicity about the event is widespread, being featured over the years in Dear Abby, Annie’s Mailbox, Ann Landers column, Parade Magazine, Guidepostsmagazine, and literally hundreds of U.S. newspapers, dozens of television stations, and numerous websites and hundreds of personal blogs. Information on the Worldwide Candle Lighting and planned memorial candle lighting services (of which we are advised) is posted on TCF’s national website every year as the event nears.

View Dear Abby’s column from December 4, 2011 and read a letter from TCF’s Executive Director Pat Loder about what this event means to those who have suffered the tragic loss of a child.

If no Worldwide Candle Lighting service was held near you this year, please feel free to plan one open to the public this year or next year. You are welcome to use TCF’s “Suggestions to Help Plan a Memorial Service in Conjunction with The Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting©”to help in planning the service. All allied bereavement organizations, churches, funeral homes, hospices, and formal and informal bereavement groups are invited to join in the remembrance. When you firm up plans for your candle lighting, open to the public, please return to this site and submit the event information form so TCF can list your service with the many hundreds held in the United States and around the world. The Worldwide Candle Lighting gives bereaved families everywhere the opportunity to remember their child(ren) . . . that their light may always shine!

WCL Press Release 10-17-2012

National Media Stories and Videos from before and after the 2012 Worldwide Candle Lighting

For More Holiday Grief Support Resouces, please visit our website at

Posted in Grief Resources - Newsletter, Grief Support & Holidays, Grief Support Discussion Topics, Loss of a Child, Share Your Story, What to do for someone that is grieving | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Virtual Book Tour – Interview with Kelly Farley – Author of Grieving Dads: To The Brink and Back

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on June 6, 2012

Thank you for joining us on our Virtual Book Tour.

Today we welcome Kelly Farley, author of Grieving Dads: To The Brink and Back.  Kelly’s interview is inspiring and offers many insights and practical suggestions on how to positively support a grieving dad.  We thank him for sharing his very personal story and we are grateful for all the work he has done over the past several years to bring support and resources to grieving dads all over the world.

Please feel free to comment or share your own experiences on how your friends and family have assisted you in restoring balance in your life after the loss of a loved one in the comment section below.

Grieving Dads: To The Brink and Back is featured on our Helpful Books page under our Virtual Book Tour.

And now on to our interview with Kelly Farley…

1.  What inspired you to write the book Grieving Dads: To The Brink and Back?

Like most of the men who will read this book, I too am a grieving dad. I lost two beautiful babies over an eighteen-month period, and those losses have had major and irreversible impacts on my life. To be quite honest, my psychological response to these losses scared me. I felt out of control — because I was out of control. I couldn’t change the fact that my children died. I couldn’t stop hurting. I didn’t just cry — I physically wept inside. There were times when there were no tears, and it felt like I was convulsing internally.

All of this scary stuff started to pile up on me, and when I finally decided to check my “manly” inclinations at the door and seek a bit of help, I discovered that I was in for a surprise. Almost all of the resources I could find on the subject of grieving for a child was directed either toward women or “parents.” I put “parents” in quotation marks, because in my experience, most of what I read for grieving parents was written for mothers or by mothers. If I did come across something aimed at grieving dads, it was usually advice about how to comfort their wives.

I’m sure there’s something worthwhile out there. But in the absence of anything that jumped out at me, I decided to pursue the issue myself

2.  How did losing your children change your life?

The easier question would be “How it has not changed your life?” Everything in my life has changed, the way I live if, the way I see life and how I now take time to experience it.  I use to rush through life thinking that I was this important person and that if I stopped for a moment the world would fall down around me because it needed me that much.  I now live my life to help others where I can and try to be a resource to other men that are dealing with difficult things in their life.  I try to remember that Katie and Noah are watching and that they want me to live a hopeful and happy life.

3.  Is there any one thing that your family or friends did that assisted you through the grieving process?

Some called, most did not.  I have found ways to remove some people from my life.  I learned to sort out who the real friends are and who were the “good time friends.”  I hold no grudge or anger for the people that couldn’t be there for me because I am not sure if I would have been able to be there for others before I lost my children.  Most people really do not know what to say or do so they say or do nothing, hoping that their friend or family member will “get through” the rough patch and get back to the way they were before.  The problem is until you yourself have experienced the death of a child, you really cannot comprehend that there is no going back to the person you were before.  It’s not possible and the sooner you realize that the sooner you can remove all of the personal expectations you place on yourself.

4.  Our website focuses on providing tips to friends and family members on how to support a loved one through the grieving process.  What suggestions do you have for our readers on how they can support the men in their lives that are grieving the loss of a child?

As a result of the Grieving Dads Project, I have spoken to hundreds of grieving dads and the one thing I have learned is people need to tell their story.  Not only do they need to tell their story, they need to be allowed to share their emotions while telling their story.  The following are a few ways to provide support to the Grieving Dads you may know:

  • Encourage them to talk about what they are feeling and thinking (even the really dark stuff).
  • Remind them that they are not alone.
  • Let them speak openly about their pain.
  • Do not try to solve their problems and be a good listener.
  • Encourage them to find support groups for men.  These groups could be grief related or a group of men that are all dealing with various life struggles.
  • Do not push them through their grief and allow them to tell their stories.
  • Allow them the time to process what has happen to them.
  • Allow them to turn to or away from their faith as needed.
  • If they start to cry, let them, it helps cleanse the soul.
  • Let them know you are there for them at anytime of the day, and mean it.

Keep in mind that people that are grieving are ultra sensitive so it is important to think before you speak.  Understand how your words may be interrupted by the receiver.  If you really don’t know what to say, say nothing.  There is healing in silence so it is better to sit quietly and listen than to fill the air with words that are not helpful.

5.  What do you wish your family or friends had done differently after you lost your children?

Acknowledge my children’s death.  Acknowledge the impacts that child loss has on a person.  I know it’s hard to understand if you have not been there yourself, but try.  Remember anniversaries and birthdays just like other people in the family.  I could go on and on.  This is a subject I touch on in my book.

6.  What suggestions do you have for men that are told to “toughen up” and not show their grief?

During my deep struggles with grief and what I had been taught about it, I learned something. Something really, really important. I learned that grief is really not my enemy at all. Instead, grief and any way it might be expressed — whether through tears, anger, fear, physical exhaustion, illness, or a lack of confidence — is a natural reaction to catastrophic loss. If there’s any “right” way to grieve, if there’s any “should” at all, it’s that we should feel extreme sadness, frustration, and anger.

And believe it or not, we should feel pain. This may be obvious to some, but for me it was a necessary lesson. I’m reasonably sure there are many other guys out there who are as confounded by their reaction to loss as I was, and thus had plenty of lessons to learn as well. Hard lessons, for sure. But very necessary ones.

Perhaps the most profound lesson is that it takes far more courage to live through the pain of grief than it does to deny your natural reactions and emotions. And it takes far more courage to challenge the conventional wisdom of “toughen up.”

7.  What is one thing you would like your readers to take away from your book? 

Grieving Dads is not a “soft” how-to grief book or a pain-drenched memoir written by a brokenhearted father as a form of personal therapy.  Rather, it’s a gripping collection of survival stories by men who have faced the aftermath of losing a child.  They are real stories that pull no punches and are told with raw and brutal honesty.  Even in the midst of devastating tragedy, we all know that men are typically expected to be strong, silent types who tough it out and don’t talk about their emotions, especially not grief.  But this so-called conventional “wisdom” is a lie.  Not only do men need to talk about their grief, they are desperate to do so.  The core message of Grieving Dads is “you’re not alone”.  It is a message that desperately needs to be delivered to grieving dads who often grieve in silence due to society’s expectations.

8.   What would you like our readers to know about you, your book and your website?

Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back is available on my website at www.GrievingDads.com and is also available after June 11, 2012 on Amazon.com.

About Book and Grieving Dads Website 

I developed the idea for Grieving Dads in October of 2009, and by January of 2010 I had launched the www.GrievingDads.com blog.  Literally within a few days, I started to receive emails from grieving dads from all over the world.  I started to collect detailed online surveys in the spring of 2010, and by summer of 2010, I started traveling to conduct interviews for this book.  The face-to-face interviews continued until the fall of 2011, and I spent the last eight months formulating the lessons I learned from these men into this book.

During this time, I discovered that these “silent grievers” actually hungered to share their stories, to speak their children’s names aloud and describe what had happened.  Now, having completed my interviews with men from “this terrible, terrible club,” I have collected the most vivid and illuminating stories for Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back.  Stories appearing in the book have been carefully selected to represent a cross-section of fathers, as well as a diverse portrayal of loss.  This approach helps reflect the full spectrum of grief, from the early days of shock and trauma to the long view after living with loss for many years.  In short, any father who has lost a child was welcome to participate in the project and encouraged to do so, and thus any bereaved father will find brotherhood in these pages, and will feel that someone understands them. 

About Kelly Farley

Like many men, I was caught up in the rat race of life before I experienced the loss of two babies over an 18-month period. I lost my daughter, Katie, in 2004, followed by my son, Noah, in 2006. During the losses and the years that followed, I felt like I was the only dad who had ever experienced such a loss. I realized that society, for the most part, doesn’t feel comfortable with an openly grieving male. This realization inspired me to write this book.

In addition to being an author, I also speak on the subject and work as a Recovery Coach for people who want to put their lives back together after surviving such a profoundly life-changing event.

I maintain a support blog at www.GrievingDads.com and I am currently pursuing a M.S. Ed. degree in counseling to continue my mission of helping others.

I also try to be an advocate for bereaved parents whenever I get the opportunity.  I am currently working on the Farley-Kluger Initiative, which will help bereaved parents qualify for an optional 12-week unpaid leave of absence from work in order start the healing process.

Grieving Dads Fundraiser Campaign

On May 17, Kelly launched a 30-day Kickstarter fundraising campaign to help raise the funds to make this much needed book more available to people around the world. His goal is to raise $20k before Fathers DayClick here to find out more on how you can support this important project.

Be sure to also read Positive Ways to Support a Grieving Dad by Kelly Farley, our featured newsletter article from June 2011.

Posted in Father's Day, Grief Resources, Grief Resources - Newsletter, Holiday Grief Support, Loss of a Child, Men & Grief, What Not to Say to a Grieving Loved One, What to do for someone that is grieving | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

What Will You Choose?

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on March 15, 2012

You just received a phone call letting you know that your friend has lost a loved one. You now have a decision to make…What kind of supporter do you want to be?

There are many ways to support a loved one after a loss. As a friend you have the right to choose the most appropriate path for you in the moment. There are times that you may choose to be the best supporter you can be, and other times you may shy away from the responsibility due to personal circumstances or your own emotional pain.

Here are a few common ways people respond when they are called upon to support a grieving loved one:

1. The Listener – The person that allows you to talk about your feelings without telling you how you should feel.

2. The Doer – The person that jumps right in and takes care of everyday tasks. They bring you groceries, pick up your kids from school, they make sure people are notified about funeral arrangements and generally take care of those daily tasks that you are not up to doing.

3. The Cheerleader – The person that lifts your spirits when you can barely get out of bed. They are there to get you out of the house and will take you on an adventure to brighten your day.

4. The Brief Encounter – The person that comes to the funeral, sends you a card or flowers, but generally believes that grief ends at the funeral and there is not much more that they can do for you. Their support is brief but sincere.

5. The No Show – The person that is not able to be supportive for their own personal reason. They may be uncomfortable with talking about death and loss or there may be life circumstances that make them unavailable.

As you travel through the grief recovery journey with a friend, you may find that you are all of these types of supporters and a whole lot more. Grief is not a linear process; it has many peaks and valleys. As your grieving friend’s needs change, so too will the type of support they need.

When choosing how you will support a grieving loved one, consider the following:

  • Lead with your strength. We all have our strengths that come out when a difficult situation arises. If you are a great listener, be a great listener. If you are a doer, help your friend with daily tasks.
  • Stretch yourself a little to learn more about yourself and how you feel about grief and death. You may find a blessing for yourself hidden inside the journey.
  • Know your limits. We all have our limitations and we can’t be all things to all people. Do the best you can in the moment.
  • Ask for help if you are over your head. A grieving friend may require more assistance than a lay person can handle. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your local grief support group or a grief counselor.

After losing many friends and family over the years, the one thing I have learned is that the right people show up at the right time. Often it is not the person we thought it would be. I have to admit that it took me some time to forgive those friends that were not there for me after my mother passed away. But I have come to realize that it is more important to be grateful for those that were there and understand that those that were not had their reasons.

The choice is yours…what will you choose?

© 2011 Lori Pederson
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Lori Pederson, Founder of I Did Not Know What to Say, a website created to inspire and to provide you with tools to assist a love one through the grieving process. If you would like our free newsletter on how to assist your friends and family members through the journey of restoring balance in their life after the death of a love one, please visit our website at http://www.ididnotknowwhattosay.com.

Posted in Grief Resources, Grief Resources - Newsletter, Grief Support Discussion Topics, What to do for someone that is grieving | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Virtual Book Tour – Interview with Laura Smith – Author of “In All Things Giving Thanks When Hope Seems Lost”

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on February 9, 2012

Thank you for joining us on our Virtual Book Tour.

Today we welcome Laura Smith, author of In All Things Giving Thanks When Hope Seems Lost.  Laura’s interview offers many insights and practical suggestions on how to assist a loved one that has had a miscarriage.

Please feel free to comment or share your own experiences on how your friends and family have assisted you in restoring balance in your life after the loss of a loved one in the comment section below.

In All Things Giving Thanks When Hope Seems Lost is featured on our Helpful Books page under our Virtual Book Tour.

And now on to our interview with Laura Smith…

1. What inspired you to write the book In All Things Giving Thanks When Hope Seems Lost?

At first I was simply writing through the grief in order to try and understand all of what I had been through. It was a way for me to process the miscarriage and all that God had spoken to my broken heart during that time. Later as I began to expand into writing about all of the trials our family had gone through, I realized the pattern of God’s hand in all of it and saw the amazing grace I was living under because of His love for me. I didn’t intend to write a book that would ever be published in the beginning but when I had one person here or there read it, the feedback was almost an urgency that people needed to hear the message.

2. How did experiencing a miscarriage change your life?

Up until that point in my life, I thought that because I was a believer God protected me from the really hard stuff. I had been through losses of grandparents but that was all a natural part of life. Experiencing the miracle of pregnancy after being told we weren’t able to even get pregnant was a huge confirmation of God’s presence in my life. To lose that miracle was beyond devastating. It completely broke me. I questioned God’s love and his very existence. My husband at one point called God a hypocrite because if He hated abortion so much he wouldn’t have allowed our baby to die.

3. Is there any one thing that your family or friends did for you that assisted you through the grieving process?

They just allowed me to grieve in my own way and on my own timing. I am a very private person and a silent griever. I would close myself in the bathroom and sit on the floor in the middle of the night with my face buried in a towel so no one could hear my sobs. One dear friend said to me when I was ready to hear it that sometimes God allows things like this to happen in order to protect us from something worse like perhaps there was a terrible problem with the baby and to spare us from that pain, he instead protected us from it. That’ was different than saying a blanket statement such as “everything happens for a reason”. I didn’t get the constant “how are you?” questions often asked by well-meaning family or friends. I think that would have driven me crazy.

4. Our website focuses on providing tips to friends and family members on how to support a loved one through the grieving process. What suggestions do you have for our readers on how they can support a loved one that is grieving?

Be very sensitive to the loved one’s personal grieving process. If they are typically a person to talk through everything then just sit and listen. If they are a private person then allow them to grieve privately and wait for them to come to you when they are ready. Let them know you are there for them when they are ready but you are not going to invade their space. In the case of a loss of spouse and children are involved, be there to do what needs to be done to take care of the children because during the grieving process we completely lose sight of the needs of those around us. Understand that the loved one may have a really great upbeat day one day and then fall on their face the next. If they are not a hugger type person, respect their space but gently touch them on the shoulder or squeeze their hand as often as the opportunity presents itself. Human touch is very healing. Pray for them!

5. How has your faith in God given you the strength to face the losses in your life?

After the vision the Lord gave me which I share in great detail in my book, I know that I know that I know that heaven is real and I will see my loved ones again. He has taught me to see beyond the current situations to look deeply into every situation and see His light shining in the midst. And most importantly I have learned that everything that we go through is an opportunity to learn and to grow in order to someday help someone else through something similar.

6. What is one thing you would like your readers to take away from your book?

Healing. Anyone who has experienced miscarriage or been touched by abortion can find healing in the vision that the Lord gave me to share.

7. What would you like our readers to know about you and your book?

I am a real person who has experienced real life issues. I’m not pretentious or overtly religious; I’m a believer in Jesus who has always desired to write but had to wait for God to write my story. I hope through my book that others can learn some of the amazing life lessons and blessings from the Lord that I’ve had to learn the hard way. I thought this was just a message of healing through miscarriage and abortion however everyone who has read it has said they could not put it down and there was so much other good stuff they had to pause in order to soak it all in.

8. Have you written any other books? Do you plan to write any other books in the future?

I am in the process of writing my second book about my father’s spiritual journey through cancer. He lost his battle here on earth but gained eternal life before he passed. This was a miracle in itself for anyone who knew my dad. The two year battle was packed full of evidence of God’s hand in the journey and taught me about the tremendous power we have in prayer and to never take that for granted.

About Laura Smith

Laura SmithLaura works as a medical coding and reimbursement specialist in Northern Minnesota. She spent her youth on a small dairy farm in Northeast Minnesota. She was married two weeks after her high school graduation. Three years and two children later, she was facing divorce and single parenthood. She moved to a college town in north central MN where she hoped to earn a degree and make a life for her and her two young daughters. There she met and married the love of her life. Together they embarked on a life together as a ready-made family facing all the challenges that comes with it. They had no idea that the life experiences they walked through early on and one life altering event would prepare them for the ultimate challenge, the possible death of their daughter.


In All Things Giving Thanks When Hope Seems Lost is featured on our Helpful Books page – http://www.ididnotknowwhattosay.com/helpfulbooks.html

Grief Support Resources: http://www.ididnotknowwhattosay.com/grief_support_groups.html

Posted in Grief Resources, Miscarriage, Share Your Story, Virtual Book Tour, What to do for someone that is grieving | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Share Your Story

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on January 10, 2012

We invite you to Share Your Story on how your friends and family assisted you in restoring balance in your life after a loss. Please submit your inspirational stories, letters/cards that have reached your heart, a favorite quote or poem, an unforgettable adventure/trip, a favorite song, an inspirational movie, a book that touched your life or a list of what you wished your friends had done for you.

We hope by sharing your story you will inspire others to give the gift of love and compassion to their loved ones that are grieving.

How To Submit Your Story

Stories may be submitted in writing or in video format.  Please email your story to us at:

By Email: info@ididnotknowwhattosay.com

Please include your Name, the name of the person who wrote the submission (if different) and your address, so we may contact you should we use your submission.

Your contact information will only be used to contact you should we wish to post your submission on our website or in our upcoming book “I Did Not Know What to Say”. We will never sell your information to any third party vendor.

If your submission is used on our website or in our upcoming book “I Did Not Know What to Say”, we will be sure that both you and the author are credited for your submission. If you wish to stay anonymous, please note that on your submission.

To view inspirational messages that others have contributed, please visit our Inspiration page for thoughts and ideas.

Thank you for your contribution!

Lori Pederson
Founder, I Did Not Know What To Say.com

Posted in Gratitude, Grief Resources, Grief Support Discussion Topics, Share Your Story | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Virtual Book Tour – Interview with Jennifer Hawkins – Author of The Gift Giver

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on August 3, 2011

Thank you for joining us on our Virtual Book Tour.

Today we welcome Jennifer Hawkins, author of  The Gift Giver. Jennifer’s interview offers many insights and practical suggestions on how to support a grieving widow.

Please feel free to comment or share your own experiences on how your friends and family have assisted you in restoring balance in your life after the loss of a loved one in the comment section below.

The Gift Giver is featured on our Helpful Books page under our Virtual Book Tour.

1. What inspired you to write the book The Gift Giver?

My best friend works in an emergency room as a physical therapist. I’d told her my story about what happened after Mark died. About three months later she called me and said I had to write a book. She had been telling my story to people who were about to die, who were about to lose a loved one, and to those who had just lost a loved one; and she couldn’t believe all of their positive responses. She The Gift Giver: A True Storysaid she watched their shoulders dropped and many of them told her that they felt so much better. She not only told me to write a book, she said, “And hurry up! I can’t tell the story to everyone.”

So, while I was terrified to put the whole story out there, she really inspired me by proving that what I’d been through could help others. And that is my intention.

2. How did losing your husband change your life?

First, we had two boys who were three and five years old. Becoming a single parent in an instant was an overwhelming shock of responsibility. Even three years later it seems I’m still adjusting to handling everything on my own. I was forced to rely on other people to help me take care of them. I was always an independent person, even when Mark was around, so having no choice but to depend on others was difficult…and still is, sometimes.

Even though single parenting has been a challenge, the biggest change in my life since losing Mark is that I now look at everything very differently. Before, I was extremely future focused and could be somewhat judgmental towards those who didn’t seem to have the same drive that I did. Now I find myself looking at a tree for several minutes and tears come to my eyes because I appreciate life; it is magical! I’ve learned to ‘live in the moment’ and am not always consumed with finding out what is going to happen next. More importantly, the knee jerk reaction to judge others just isn’t there anymore. After experiencing loss like I did, I learned that you can never imagine what is going on in someone else’s world.

3. How did receiving a message from your husband after he had passed away assist you in rebuilding your life and working through your grief?

I’d had a near death experience when I was 28 and I felt like I was given the choice to live or die. Since that experience, I have always believed that we choose when we die. So when my husband died suddenly I was in complete shock and denial; I could not fathom why he chose to die then. Our marriage was better than it had ever been, he was happy at work and was a wonderful father to our boys—life was good. His death shook me because my belief that we choose when we die was proved wrong. Not only was I dealing with his death but I was battling myself internally.

When he spoke to me and told me why he left, I could not deny that it was him. His reason for leaving was something I never in a million years would have considered and because of that, I knew it had to be true. At that moment, it made perfect sense why he chose to leave.

Since his first words I have not once been angry that he died. That is normally a big part of loosing someone. Instead, I look at my children like they are the luckiest boys in the world and I feel lucky. I’m not saying it’s not hard and that I don’t miss him because it is, and I do. But knowing there was a reason for his death released all of the anger and denial. That has made all of the difference in my transition, and in my parenting.

4. How did your friends and family react when you told them you had received messages from your husband after he had passed away?

The first person I told was my Mom. I was scared and thought, “She can’t leave me if she thinks I’m crazy.” But I was also scared because we were not a ‘spiritual’ family. We’d never talked about things like that before. However, I knew I had to tell someone because I’d felt so much relief and I felt guilty not sharing that relief with people who loved Mark.

That said, she reacted differently than I expected. She instantly started shaking and crying (which I’d NEVER seen her do) and said, “That sounds just like Mark.”

Most people, friends, family and even strangers have told me they get chills on their arms and neck and they believe me. For the most part people have been comforted by my story.

5. Many people may feel like their loved one is communicating with them after they have passed away but may have a hard time accepting that it is really happening. Often I see people discounting messages from their loved one as wishful thinking or their mind playing tricks on them. How did you come to accept that your husband was truly connecting with you from the other side?

In my world there was no other choice. He told me things that were so out of my reality that I knew it had to be coming from something other than me. I didn’t know for sure it wasn’t just the universe or God. I still don’t. The reason I assumed it was him was that the communication became conversational and was in first person as if it was him. We even argued. As I look back at it now, the arguing part seems very funny.

His presence feels warm, comforting, loving. I have never been afraid of it or questioned it. It made sense that he would speak to me, even though it was initially very shocking. He loved me and cared for me dearly. He tried to take care of me when he was here, more than I would even let him. He’s done an amazing job after he left, too.

6. Our website focuses on providing tips to friends and family members on how to support a loved one through the grieving process. What would be your suggestions on how friends and family can support a loved one that has lost a spouse?

Things that helped me the most were when people made me take care of myself. A friend scheduled a massage therapist to come to my house because I was too busy to deal with even making the reservation. Neighbors made us food three nights a week for months. This was invaluable. Adding on cooking to everything else I had to take care of might just have pushed me over the edge.

It was comforting to know there were people there who were willing to just listen. Some friends made a call list for me and they said I could pick up the phone twenty four hours a day and someone would either just listen or would come over to be with me. This gave the delicate balance of giving me space but being there when I needed someone. I think I only called a couple of times but when I did it was really necessary and appreciated.

My biggest piece of advice for supporting someone who is handling the loss of a spouse is to allow them to surrender to their grief. Let the person feel exactly what they’re feeling. Don’t try to fix them; don’t try to help them ‘get over’ anything. They are now a widow/widower and that fact will not change, ever. It is a part of them. Be with them when they need you there; and give them space when they don’t. The process is greatly achieved when they are alone. Don’t take it personally if they need to be alone.

7. What do you wish your family or friends had done differently after you lost your husband?

As you can tell from my last answer my friends and family are exceptional. If I had to think of anything it would be that after six or eight weeks the cards and calls slowed or stopped completely. When that happened I thought, “God, he was here for forty-nine years, and everyone has forgotten him after only two months.”

I understood that people had their own lives. And that made it okay but I’d have liked it if people called or wrote a small note randomly months and even years after, saying they are thinking of him or me and the boys. He is in our lives every day still. We talk about him and it would be nice to know others still have him in their hearts. It is hard with children to find time to reach out to people for that kind of support. I’ve just been trying to keep everything above water. Those little unsolicited reminders mean a lot.

8. What are your top three suggestions to help people move forward in the grieving process after the loss of a spouse? What helped you pick up the pieces and move forward?

Realize that this is something that is now a part of you forever and that you don’t have to change how you feel. Go into your heart and feel everything you are feeling rather than dismiss or deny the emotions. When I’ve done this the emotions seem to flow through me, rather than get stuck with me, and then I can move forward.

Look up and really see those who love you. They are wanting to help and it is important that you let them. They can provide a lot of relief; not only from your new responsibilities but also by showing you that other humans are just that—human, loving, and feeling.
Take care of yourself. Nobody can do it for you. Ultimately you have to pick up the pieces and move on. As soon as you can, do something small for yourself every single day. I don’t care if it is taking a long bath, going to a funny movie or just walking in nature. Make taking care of yourself a habit. Be very gentle with yourself; everything in life is perfect, no matter how much you think it isn’t.

9. What is one thing you would like your readers to take away from your book?

That life can be filled with joy, laughter, peace and love, whether or not you have ever experienced the loss of a close loved one.

10. What would you like our readers to know about you and your book?

That I feel like an angel kissed me on the forehead for getting to go through this experience, but I don’t feel like I’m different than anyone else. This could have all happened to anyone. We are all so alike, that truth frequently gets lost in our day to day lives.

11. Have you written any other books? Do you plan to write any other books in the future?

Yes, I have written five other books. Four were before Mark passed away, two since.
The first is called “Find Paradise Now – Seven Simple Steps to an Extraordinary Life.” It is based on my competitive swimming career and what I took from those years and use in my life.

Then I wrote a book called, “Liberation – Will You Survive or Thrive” with a friend Mike Watson. It is an inspirational, motivational book that explores forty words such as Dreams, Passion, Leadership, Love, Power, and Jealousy.
I also wrote two real estate investing books with Mike Watson. One is called “The Highest and Best Real Estate Investment” and the other is “How to Buy and Sell Real Estate Without Using a Bank.”
And finally I’ve written a follow up to “The Gift Giver”. However I’m not sure if I will ever publish it.


Jennifer’s diverse background includes swimming for the University of California at Santa Barbara, competing in the Olympic Trials in 1988, owning a residential real estate company for fifteen years and authoring five books.
She has spoken in front of audiences up to 700 people, traveled to over forty different locations, and is raising two boys who are five and seven years old.
She currently lives in Texas and is an active real estate investor, mom and author working on her sixth book.

The book website is http://www.thegiftgiverbook.com. Book orders (softback and eBook) can be made on the website, Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

Posted in Gratitude, Grief Resources, Inspiration, Loss of a Spouse, Virtual Book Tour, What to do for someone that is grieving | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Virtual Book Tour – Interview with Chelsea Hanson, Author of the Sympathy Matters Collection

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on May 23, 2011

Thank you for joining us on our Virtual Book Tour.

Today we Welcome Chelsea Hanson, the author of the Sympathy Matters Collection. Chelsea’s interview offers many insights and practical suggestions on how to assist a grieving loved one.

Please feel free to comment or share your own experiences with grief and the healing process in the comment section below.

1. What inspired you to write the Sympathy Matters Collection?

The Sympathy Matters Collection started as a simple poem of comfort. When my mother, Donna, passed away unexpectedly right before Christmas in 1996, I knew that my family and the holidays would never be the same. To help with my grief, I wrote a poem, Hello from Heaven, to express what I thought my mother would want to say to us after she arrived in heaven.

Over time, I would enclose the poem in sympathy gifts for others. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and after many requests, I decided to publicly share this message, so I published my first gift book, Hello from Heaven.

As time passed, I was inspired to create more gift books to comfort others in their time of need, including Forever in My Heart, Merry  Christmas from Heaven Above, If Only I Knew and Choose Hope.

The collection of gift books from http://www.Sympathymatters.com has comforted people across the country and has been used by grief support groups, hospice and funeral home professionals.

But the gift books were just the beginning. As I continued to recognize the need for support at time of loss, With Sympathy Gifts and Keepsakes was founded. This is a site that provides gifts to express your sympathy with care as well as provide keepsakes to honor your precious loved one.

2. Is there any one thing that your family or friends did for you that assisted you through the grieving process? (i.e. a special card someone sent you, a favorite place they took you, listened when you needed support, etc.)

Just this last Christmas, my mother-in-law, LaVon, sent me a floral holiday bouquet that said, “Thinking about you at this time of the year,” to express her care. My mother, Donna, passed away over 14 years ago right before Christmas. Thus, it meant so much that LaVon acknowledged the anniversary of my mother’s death and provided support at Christmas time, which is typically a difficult time of the year for those who have lost someone.

As evidenced by this example, grieving people still need messages of sympathy for years to come after a death, especially on holidays, birthdays and anniversaries. You are not reminding them of their loss when you send a card or do something extra on these days. Instead, you are offering comfort and support that may still be needed. Remember, you can express your support at anytime to the bereaved.

It is also important to acknowledge the anniversary of the death. This is a hard day for anyone who is grieving, so your extra support on this day can be helpful. Communicate that you remember the date by calling, sending flowers, writing a note or what feels right to you.

3. Our website focuses on providing tips to friends and family members on how to support a loved one through the grieving process. What would be your top three suggestions on how to positively support a loved one that is grieving?

1. Reminisce. Continue to reminisce with your friend about his or her loved one’s life. Sharing fond memories is a wonderful way to provide comfort. Remember, talking about the deceased will not hurt or upset the person grieving. In fact, it is just the opposite, your friend will appreciate that you are talking about their loved one. Please know that it is okay to talk about someone who passed away, and it is helpful to use the deceased’s name in conversations.

2. Be yourself. Speak in a way and behave in a way that is natural for you. Continue the same relationship you had before: close friend, acquaintance, friendly neighbor, or work buddy. Offer help only if you are able to follow through, and in a way that makes sense in your life. Can you drive the carpool? Offer to drop off a meal? Mow the lawn once a week without even knocking on the door? Take the kids on a play date for the afternoon?

3. Learn about and understand grief. To understand what you friend is going through, do your best to learn about grieving. Everyone grieves differently, and there is no timetable on grief. By having an understanding of the process, you will have more compassion and be able to support your friend. Being a friend to the grieving will not always be easy. Your friend has changed and will continue to change as he or she journeys through grief. Your gift of support, however, will always be remembered and cherished by your friend.

4. You have a series of books (Hello from Heaven, Forever in My Heart, Merry Christmas from Heaven Above, If Only I Knew, and Choose Hope), do you suggest that readers read them in a certain order or do they individually stand alone.

Each book provides a separate message of healing and comfort to those traveling through grief.
Hello from Heaven can be given at any time during the healing process, but it is particularly helpful at time of loss.
Merry Christmas from Heaven Above can be used for the first Christmas after loss or any subsequent Christmas.
Forever in My Heart is especially beneficial on the first anniversary of loss, but can be given at other times during the grief journey too.
If Only I Knew is an inspirational book that reminds us to cherish our loved ones each and every day.
Choose Hope is for families who have been affected by cancer, and provides words of hope and encouragement when facing cancer.

5. What is one thing you would like your readers to take away from your books?
The main theme in my writing is that your loved one is always loving you, watching you and guiding you from heaven. The book excerpts below illustrate this message:

“Though my life is over, I am closer to you now than I was ever before.
There are rocky roads ahead of you and many hills to climb,
but together we can do it taking one day at a time.”

Excerpt from Hello from Heaven

“Let your faith be strong, for I’m home where I belong.
Please don’t be unhappy because I’m not in your sight.
I’m by your side every morning, noon and night”

Excerpt from Forever in My Heart

6. What do you want our readers to know about you and your books?My purpose is simple:

To ensure that the bereaved receive the sympathy and comfort they need in a caring and helpful manner. When you are not sure of what to say or do at time of loss, the Sympathy Matters collection can help you. Whatever book you may choose to give, be assured that you will express your sympathy thoughtfully and provide great comfort to the recipient.

My long term vision: Working together with grief support groups and educators, we can teach society more about loss, dying and grief. By increasing society’s knowledge and comfort level surrounding death, dying can become accepted as a normal part of life, just like being born. In turn, our world will become better equipped to support and interact with people that are grieving.

7. Do you plan to write any additional books in the future?

Yes, I am currently working on a pet loss book, entitled “Wags and Whiskers from Heaven.” The purpose of the book is to provide sympathy and comfort to pet owners who have lost a beloved pet. I recently lost three long-time family members (pets Owen, Emma and Fiver). Thus, this book is to honor them and to help others who have lost a four-legged family member.

About Chelsea Hanson
Author Chelsea Hanson has the special gift of finding the right words when they are needed most. Her reassuring words provide hope that you too will be able to journey through grief and find a new appreciation of life. For information on Chelsea’s books, please visit: www.SympathyMatters.com 

As an entrepreneur, Chelsea is passionate about providing grief support. She is the founder of With Sympathy Gifts and Keepsakes, which was developed to help you express your sympathy remember your loved with a special keepsake or simply find additional support from those who have been there. For more information, please visit: www.WithSympathyGifts.com or www.Facebook.com/WithSympathyGifts.

Posted in Grief Support & Holidays, Loss of a Mother, Loss of a Parent, Virtual Book Tour, What to do for someone that is grieving | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »