She Lost Her Brother in Iraq. To Heal, She Did This

On April 29, 2007, U.S. Marine Corps 1st Lt. Travis Manion died in combat in Anbar province near Fallujah.

“My brother’s death changed me,” said the 40-year-old Doylestown native. With her family, she launched The Travis Manion Foundation, run by her mother, Janet. The nonprofit offers support and leadership programs to veterans and relatives of fallen veterans, providing opportunities to connect, build relationships and work together on service projects.

When her mother died of cancer in April 2012, Manion took over the foundation’s operation. She trained for and ran marathons to raise money to support it while trying to build her own identity as a “tough, capable, resilient woman. For a long time, I had lied to myself about how happy and fulfilled I felt.”

In truth, she had begun having panic attacks, had become too terrified to drive, and wouldn’t venture more than 10 miles from the home she shared with her husband and children.

“I had started smoking again,” she said, “crying in the shower, and regularly feeling seized by anxiety.”

That Christmas, she retreated to her bedroom and began hyperventilating. It was time to admit she was not OK.

Finally, she sought the help of a therapist. The diagnosis — post-traumatic stress disorder — outraged her. To vent, she called Amy Looney Heffernan, who had been married to her brother’s best friend, Brendan Looney, a U.S. Navy SEAL who died in combat in 2010.

“Can you believe that s—?” Manion barked at Heffernan. “I don’t have PTSD!”

“That’s OK,” Heffernan replied. “My therapist told me the same thing.”

Thus began many conversations between Manion and Heffernan about grief, loss and healing. They were joined by Heather Kelly, whose Marine husband, Robert Kelly, was killed in combat in 2010.

When living with grief, avoid these people

I keep my radar out at all times, even seven years later. Actually, people with long-term grief need to keep their guard up forever. Being in the company of negativity is unhealthy.

There are people who feed on emotional problems and turmoil. They seem to enjoy other people’s unhappiness and conflict, and often create or add to it. This could be a neighbor or someone you’ve known for years through a church or group you attend and otherwise enjoy. Listening to a constant barrage of “ain’t it awful” and criticism is a drag on your spirit.

Just be alert and protect yourself. Sometimes such people latch on to the bereaved, the divorced, or people with other life challenges. Just cut them off. It’s like mentally drawing down a shade or creating a mental barrier. Don’t talk or spend time with them. Find something else to do…


How You Can Help Those Who Are Hurting

They Need You More Than They Need Your Words

Not sure how to help others who are hurting? You aren’t alone. Most people want to help but don’t know how. For some, reaching out to someone in crisis is scary because you don’t want to say or do the wrong thing, but yet others might over-involve themselves in someone else’s pain, making things more difficult. Following are some tips to remember, that if used, will guide your help so that it is actually helpful to others who may be facing adversity.

The Road to Recovery – click here

Listen More Than You Speak

Remember listening can be more powerful than the words you share with others. It is natural to want to fill the void of pain or confusion or grief with words, activity, and other forms of “helping.” But often what a sufferer most needs is for you to be present to whatever he or she is experiencing in the moment. If she’s sad, reflect that sadness. If he’s confused, let him know you understand…

Coping After A Miscarriage

10 Quotes To Help Cope

“I Carried You Every Second Of Your Life, And I’ll Love You every Second Of Mine.” – Unknown

Grief Help logoNo matter what anyone says, you don’t have to just get over it. It’s ok to grieve and it’s ok to hold onto the memory of the life you miss.

Miscarriages have a way of changing a woman, and the impact left over from the experience is something you will and are allowed to carry for the rest of your life. Just because they are gone, the thoughts of what could have been are not, and that is perfectly fine. Allow yourself to love and honor that little life that could have been.

“You Are Not Broken. You Did Nothing Wrong. You Are Strong, You Are Brave, And There Is Hope.” – Ashley Williams

It’s natural to have feelings of guilt after a miscarriage. But you can drive yourself insane with all the thoughts of what you could have done differently or changed. But those thoughts just are not fair to you or to the life you lost. You did everything right, you took your prenatals, and you nourished that little baby more than anyone could have asked. Unfortunately, things just weren’t in the stars this time. But when you’re ready, you are strong and brave enough to face the world and be alright.


Yes, Grief is an Expression of Love

Dear Annie: I lost my wife of 32 years, and two months after, I lost my son. I will never be the same. How can I get through this? — Grieving

Dear Grieving: I am so sorry that you lost your wife. I am so sorry that you lost your son. Each loss is devastating on its own; that you should suffer them both in just two months seems unspeakably cruel. There are no words to lessen the pain, but the following is my attempt to help you endure it. Please take whatever is useful and leave the rest.

Reach out for support. Find therapists in your area who specialize in grief at Look into grief support groups in your community. If you are religious, see if your place of worship hosts a grief support group or can refer you to one. If you don’t like one therapist or support group, try another.

Take “breaks.” The weight of grief is so crushing; it’s important for your mental and physical health to seek out moments of respite, however brief. So if there is something that brings you the slightest bit of joy or lightness (that is not self-destructive), gravitate toward that: It could be something as simple as watching a funny TV show or movie. The goal isn’t to suppress your sadness; it’s to give yourself a tiny bit of rest from the all-consuming work of grief…

More from Ask Annie:

People Handle Grief in Different Ways

The holidays are a time for family and traditions, and it’s common to experience grief associated with the memories a lost one.

According to Dr. Phil Epstein, a psychologist at Partners for Behavioral Health & Wellness in Beachwood; Dr. Jeff Turell, founder and medical director at Strive Mental Health in Shaker Heights; and Dave Zavasky, program manager of Dual Diagnosis, Transitional Youth Services & the Jail Treatment program at Crossroads Health in Mentor, everyone experiences and deals with grief in differentl ways.

“Coping skills are the same as we would use in any kind of grief work,” Epstein said. “You can certainly talk about the person no longer here or you can reminisce about memories with that person and you can somehow try to incorporate memories and traditions of that person into the next generation. When we’re looking forward, it helps us when we look backward. Also, it’s important to stay active and be with people who love and care about us.”

Zavasky said, “The first thing we have to be is honest with ourselves, especially if this is the first time we’re going through the holiday season without the loved one. It is accepting that it will be different and there is nothing you can do about that. The more we try and fight that, the harder it will be to cope with that grief. It is one of those often unspoken things, and it is hard to grasp for some people.” more…

Phil Beastall’s latest film highlights Britain’s elderly loneliness crisis

Phil Beastall, a filmmaker whose work portrays the emotional distress that affects us all – covering themes such as love, loss and bereavement – has released a moving new film ahead of Christmas. …

Now, Beastall has released a new short film to highlight the nation’s loneliness epidemic amongst older people.

It was created in support of The Silver Line, a free confidential helpline founded by Dame Esther Rantzen, which provides information, friendship and advice to elderly people, 24 hours a day, every day of the year. The Silver Line is one of three charities supported by this year’s Telegraph Christmas Charity Appeal.

The new film, titled ‘The Anniversary’, which you can watch above, portrays a woman alone in her home, recalling an anniversary gift bought for her by her husband. As she sits at her desk, she removes a framed photograph of her husband and a photograph album dedicated to their wedding anniversaries.

At midnight, she lights a candle and then looks through the album, ending at a page headed “50th anniversary – renewing our vows”. She speaks only the words “happy anniversary, my darling”, staring at the empty page through her tears.

Read the rest and how you can help:

6 Simple Things You can do for Someone Who is Grieving at the Holidays

5. Create new holiday traditions

The holidays can be particularly hard for those who are grieving because of previously established traditions that may now be too painful to carry out. If they’re up for it, try doing something new this year.

“Work with your loved one to create a tradition or practice that serves as a containment for their grief, as well as helps them honor the lifetime of their departed loved one,” said Keisha M. Wells, a licensed professional counselor at Transformation Counseling Services in Columbus, Georgia.

“Volunteering with a local food pantry or starting a food or toy drive for families in need can be a great tribute and means of paying it forward during a difficult season,” she continued. “This activity of extending care and concern to others is a positive means to manage grief and sadness as you transfer your energy to someone else’s well-being versus your own emotions.”

See all 6 Suggestions:

How To Get Through Unexpected Grief

Grief Continues at Unexpected Times

I was traveling for work when the call came in — my dad wasn’t going to make it through the night. The world fell away, like everything was loud and silent at the same time. Nothing would ever be the same.

I didn’t have time to get to the airport. I didn’t have time to see him one last time.

I didn’t have time.

My mind floated back to the conversation I had with my dad six weeks prior. He called to tell me he’d been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. It felt like my body had been invaded with a mix of anger, anxiety, fear, and call to service that I didn’t even know was possible. All I could do at that moment was cling to his every word.

But now, at this moment, there were no words left.

This is the unexpected moment I was prepared for, even though I would never be ready for it. I knew grief would strike me when my dad passed. I knew that there would be a period of my life that I wanted to shut the world out to process my emotions. But there was so much to the grieving process I didn’t expect…

How do I deal with the death of a spouse?

This question was posed to Cathy Novaky, Ph.D., an outpatient clinician for Behavioral Health Services at Altantic Health System’s Newton Medical Center.

Q: My husband died last year, and my family seems to have dealt with it and moved on. But I’m still missing him every day. Is that wrong?

A: First, let me say that I’m sorry for your loss. It’s only one year since you lost your husband. You’re not doing anything wrong. You’re grieving. How we experience grief is as individual as we ourselves are. Personal factors like coping style, life experiences, faith and the depth of the loss all contribute to how grief affects you. Common symptoms of grief include shock, disbelief, sadness, guilt, anger, loneliness and fear. Some people lose motivation or try to isolate themselves. Physical symptoms like fatigue, weight change, aches and pains and insomnia may occur as well. Keep in mind, any of these could be considered a reasonable response to loss.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve, no timetable, no specific steps you need to go through. Most people are familiar with the Kubler-Ross “Five Stages of Grief:” denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. However, you do not have to go through each stage to heal, and some people don’t go through any of them.

The most important message for healing from grief is to recognize what’s happening, be patient with yourself, and reach out for support. Don’t try to escape the pain with self-medication like drinking or diving into work or TV; try to acknowledge that you’re suffering from loss and accept that it’s natural, even though it doesn’t feel comfortable. I usually tell my patients that our pain in loss represents the respect and caring we feel toward the lost one, and it honors them and what they brought to our lives. Missing your husband shows how important he was, and still is, to you.

Take care of yourself. Be patient with the roller coaster of emotions. Treat yourself to healthy food and …

Read the rest of how do I deal with the death of a spouse below: