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Healing Our Grief, Healing Our World
Vol. 5, Number 1March 2005

Welcome to the GriefandRenewal.Com Newsletter. Please feel free to share this newsletter.

What's New at GriefandRenewal.Com:

Dear Reader,

I’m sorry to have been so inconsistent with the newsletters. I am hoping to be more regular with them in the coming year. So what’s new here at GriefandRenewal.Com? I’m happy to report that I’ve been contacted by two newspapers to contribute to articles about grief in the recent past. One of the articles was about coping with grief on Valentines Day. It is reprinted on the website (click here).

On the international front, the Tsunami has created new challenges for widows in Southeast Asia. We have been posting reports sent by Dr. Mohini Giri on her efforts to help widows and children in regions of India. One of these is partially reprinted below with a link to the series. GriefandRenewal.Com is planning a fund raiser to help Dr. Giri and her colleagues in their efforts to help the women and children affected by the Tsunami. For those who have been following the story of the film, White Rainbow (see The Dark Reality), I’m happy to report that it is opening the REEL Film Festival in Hollywood this month.

GriefandRenewal.Com was recently contacted by a new group in Kenya, WRATH_Africa, which has formed to help widows in Africa. Read below to see how WRATH_Africa came into existence and for links to further information about this exciting new group.

The tsunami has reminded us again that grief provides the opportunity to reach out both personally and globally to help both friends and strangers of all ages. To this end a children’s picture book about the helpers that help us all through periods of grief and trauma is reviewed in this newsletter, along with a personal experience essay of helping a friend who suffered the traumatic loss of his family.

Please remember to help support GriefandRenweal.Com. by ordering books from Amazon.Com through GriefandRenwal.Com. you help us pay for maintenance and additions to the website. For a large selection of books on grief please check out the GriefandRewnal.Com Book Store. Any purchase made at Amazon.Com by clicking through GriefandRenewal.Com will yield a contribution to this web site. Every time you click on Amazon.Com through GreifandRenewal.Com and order a book GriefandRenewal.Com benefits. Also please support the GriefandRenewal.Com Store which offers items made by the ‘mothers’ of Vrindavan and other healing and informative resources. Proceeds go to supporting GriefandRenwal.Com and enable us to support the widows by purchasing more of their merchandise.

As always, thank you for sharing in the journey of grief and renewal. We welcome letters, articles, poems, reviews and new resources.

In hope and healing,

Laura Slap-Shelton, Psy.D.

News from Guild of Service: Dr. Giri’s Efforts to Help the Tsunami Victims

Report of Tsunami Relief Work at Nagapattinam
By Dr.V. Mohini Giri, Chairperson, Guild of Service

The nation stopped breathing for some time on the 26th of December as the cataclysmic disaster struck the southern shores of India. As minutes passed into hours a clear picture of the extent and enormity of the catastrophe gradually began to emerge.

In my four decades of work from 1965 war widows to 71 war then the 1984 riots to Uttarkashi to Latur to the Gujarat earthquake to Godhra I had never witnessed such destruction that could displace and kill thousands of my sisters, brothers and children. I've never seen such calamity which has left thousands homeless, hopeless and harassed. For several days I kept hoping and was happy to see that this time my young children were involved all over in the total disaster management and in assisting victims of the tidal waves. However something inside me compelled me as if saying that I was avoiding my duty and I could not be a silent spectator to this grave situation specially when I have had the experience of relief and rehabilitation operations. I was aware that Mani Shankar Aiyer's constituency was badly hit and I rang up Suneet his wife if I could be of any assistance. Suneet did not even think for a minute she said, "Mohini I am leaving tonight, will you come..." And there I was traveling towards Chennai towards deluge and towards my sisters who were wanting to be heard and consoled.

To continue reading this series of articles, click here.

New Widow’s Group in Africa

Coleta Khamete Aduod and other widows in Kenya have come together to form Widows in Resistance & Against Threats and Harassment in Africa or WRATH_Africa, a nondenominational faith based organization seeking to support and help other widows throughout Africa. Ms. Aduod communicated with Dr. Slap-Shelton about how she came to found this organization. Parts of her letter are excerpted below:

"Dear Dr. Laura,

To start with, I will briefly tell you about myself. I was widowed almost 3 decades ago with 8 kids i.e. in 1977. My properties were taken away by clan members in what was referred to as property inheritance not minding that I had 4 sons and 4 daughters to be taken care of. I had dropped my job from police force to take care of our children but after the death of my husband I was forced to look for another job. Though I did not manage to get back to the forces but lucky enough having been in medical field I got a job with a local missionary hospital as an a nurse.

At the local mission hospital beside severe poverty I learned that there are other major problems facing widows in our rural communities which include domestic violence, sexual abuse, indecent funeral procedures and rites, eviction and homeless, violence of human rights and freedom, ignorance to mention but just a few...

...Statistics shows that within the village, out of 10 women 4 or 5 are widows. Of this figure most of them have no source of income besides their clans manning their steps and whereabouts. Their children if not working in farms most of them become street children...

While still at the hospital I met quite a number of widows some who were my workmates and we formed a widow’s self-support group to support ourselves in time of emergencies. To be a member, one had to contribute certain amount of money either monthly or on a fortnight basis. Well, it was a fantastic ideas and it actually supported us when time of need arose. But, in realistic we exempted another group of widows who actually needed more of support than some of us and who were unable to contribute sum of amount required. That is why I personally came –up with an idea of forming a registered faith based non-governmental organization which will cater for all sort of widows within African communities regardless of their social or economical status, unless if a widow is not in need of our support or not willing to be part of the group."

For the complete letter and more information about WRATH_Africa, including their constitution, click here.

Featured Website

Hoping Skills Company, LLC
140 Elliott Street, Suite 3
Beverly, MA 01915
Toll Free U.S. 888-815-HOPE
Tel: (978) 921-2237
Fax: (978) 921-2239

Linda Crawford and Cindy Clark, Certified Child Life Specialist have collaborated to create Hoping Skills Company, LLC and the Tomauro™Kit. They provide counseling and support services, as well as sympathy gifts for children who are coping with grief. They believe that children and adults dealing with serious illness, grief and loss will benefit from their meaningful products and compassionate services that guide inner strength and encourage self-expression.

Linda Crawford is a bereaved parent. Since her son Zachary’s death in 1993, she has worked to provide resources for children and families fighting cancer through the Zachary Mauro Crawford Tribute Fund at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Through this fund, Linda supports, develops and implements programs for children undergoing treatment and provides financial assistance to families.

Cindy Clark is a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) with over ten years of experience working with children and families dealing with serious illness, trauma, grief and loss. She uses art and play therapy as her foundation to customize therapeutic interventions that strengthen coping skills in children.

Featured Article

My Basic Formula for Helping a Friend in Grief
by Brant

To those of you grieving the death of a child and/or spouse, I have no idea what you are going through. The only thing a friend can do is offer his/her presence and listen......alot. To you would be supporters, I was totally ignorant in grief support. It’s okay to be nervous, but all you have to do is jump in with both feet...

Mid January 2004 was 6 months since my friend's family died. His family included his wife and both children (3 years old and 5 months old). While I was totally ignorant and am definitely not schooled, the following is what I have done...

I am a 37 year old man with a Geology degree. My friend is 37 with a History degree. We have known each other since we were 2-3 years old. My bereavement support resume prior to this was exactly zero and personal loss was much older relatives. I went to the visitation and the funeral. After that, I was ignorant like nearly everybody else. A little bit scared and not knowing what to do, I jumped right in to supporting my friend. I visited on the 4th week anniversary day. I hugged him and said, "I don't know. I just don't know what to say." He said, "There isn't anything to say." We sat on the front porch and I listened for 6 hours. For 3.5 months I visited my friend every week on that day (calling the night before). I listened, listened, listened, and listened some more. Four to six hours was normal for 2-3 months. Listening to 20 minutes of silence can sometimes be more important than listening to words. You don't fill the silence. You focus on your friend...

For more of this essay, click here.

Recommended Book

The Moon Came Down on Milk Street
Written and Illustrated by Jean Gralley
Henry Holt and Company, New York 2004
[Order from Amazon.com]

In a time of natural disasters, wars, and security alerts, parents might well wonder how to talk to their young children about the scary things they see and hear on the news. The Moon Came Down on Milk Street is a wonderfully illustrated picture book which will help. Jean Gralley, who has studied children’s books and illustration with Maurice Sendak, has created a wonderful book which gives the reassuring message to children that we all help each other through bad times and that the adult world can fix things and make the world a safer place.

The story begins with a special TV report: the moon is slipping out of the night sky. We see it lightly skimming the tops of tall buildings, slipping past windows, and resting in pieces on a city’s streets. The story asks, “Who will make this right again?” Helpers of all kinds- police, firefighters, rescue workers with helper dogs, construction workers, doctors, nurses – come from every corner, each answering, "We will!"...

For more of this review, click here.

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Please don’t forget to support GriefandRenewal.Com by clicking on Amazon.Com on our website and ordering and by going to the GriefandRenewal.Com store and making a purchase that will support the widows of the Guild of Service. Thank you!