Victoria Noe

Award-winning Author, Speaker, Activist

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Friend Grief

One Way to Avoid Regrets: International Friendship Day

One Way to Avoid Regrets: International Friendship Day
Jul 20, 2011 by Victoria Noe
Kristie West’s 30-Day Challenge - http://www.kristiewest.com/ - is all about showing appreciation now for the important people in your life.I started it myself on Monday, and it’s a refreshingly painless way to begin a new (good) habit. Telling your friends what they mean to you has no downside. It also got me thinking again about regrets: about how the grief we feel when our friends die is sometimes compounded by the sadness we feel about what we never did. We never told them how much they meant to us. We never took that trip together. We never…well, you get the idea.An Australian group, Global Friendship, celebrates International Friendship Day on the first Sunday in August, this year on the 7th....

What Else I Learned Writing a Book about Friend Grief

Jul 18, 2011 by Victoria Noe
When I posted last week about what I’ve learned in this now almost two-year book project, I had the feeling I was forgetting something. It took a day, but it finally popped into my head:I forgot to tell what I’ve learned about writing.Last week I concentrated on the grief aspect, the subject matter, the people I interviewed (not that there’s anything wrong with that). But this is my first book, and I’m learning by doing. Some things have come easily; some not so easily.I knew why I was writing the book. In its simplest form, I was keeping a promise to my friend, Delle. What was harder was coming to terms with who was writing the book and what it...

Kristie West's 30 Day Challenge

Jul 15, 2011 by Victoria Noe
    Grief and guilt seem at times to be intertwined. We regret the things we didn’t do, the things we didn’t say, when we had a chance. That’s human, but it can sometimes deepen our grief.Now, it has been said that it takes 30 days to create a new habit (or break an old one). So, I was intrigued by Kristie West’s 30-Day Challenge.Kristie and I are tweeps: we know each other only on Twitter. She lives in England; I live in Chicago. We’ve never met, although I hope we do something about that soon. ;)Kristie’s website, www.kristiewest.com,  is a great resource for those looking for help navigating their grief. She has challenged her followers in a unique way. Here...

Things I’ve Learned Writing a Book about Friend Grief

Jul 13, 2011 by Victoria Noe
It’s been five years since I promised my friend, Delle, I’d write a book about dealing with the death of a friend; almost two years since its form finally became clear to me. I’d already spent over two years mulling it over, writing in fits and starts (mostly fits) before hitting the wall. I’d given up, but one day, it was just there like magic; or karma.I began by researching the whole phenomenon of “disenfranchised grief”: grief that is not acknowledged or respected. Grieving the death of a friend certainly fit the definition. I already knew from personal experience that while everyone at some point will experience the death of a friend, most people are not very sympathetic of others’...

Naming Names: The 9/11 Memorial

Naming Names: The 9/11 Memorial
Jul 11, 2011 by Victoria Noe
 Northeast Corner of the South Pool I’m old enough to remember the very heated controversy over Maya Lin’s Vietnam Memorial design: the names of the dead etched in stark, black stone. How depressing! How disrespectful! Now, its “naming” focus is one that is copied the world over, including the new 9/11 Memorial, opening to the public on September 12. I visited “The Wall” in 1988. The Vietnam War shaped my youth, particularly high school and college. I stopped at the kiosk, got my paper and pencil, made a donation and set off to find the names of the two guys I’d grown up with. It had been 20 years since Ernie Sanazaro died, but it was still surprising to...

A Birthday Reflection on Friends Lost

A Birthday Reflection on Friends Lost
Jul 09, 2011 by Victoria Noe
Some occasions make you reminisce and I guess birthdays are one of them. Today’s mine, and I woke up thinking about friends.Some friends come into our lives for a relatively brief amount of time; others for decades. Some friends represent a specific time in our lives; others remind us of who we were way back when.But the one thing all of my friends who have died have in common is that they all left too soon.I remember Carol’s wake. A talented actress, she died after a long battle with breast cancer, and her death was neither peaceful nor a relief. She had deliberately cut herself off from most of her friends: wouldn’t see them in person, barely talked to any...

Should You “Un-Friend” Dead Facebook Friends?

Jul 06, 2011 by Victoria Noe
I don’t do much on LinkedIn, at least not at this point in my life. But I regularly get requests from people I know – and don’t know – to connect. One of them is an old friend of my husband’s…who’s dead.I’m not sure his family knows about the account, as LinkedIn tends to be strictly business-oriented. And I’m not sure how to bring it up. But it’s a little unnerving to see his name pop up now and then.Facebook, I’ve found out, actually has a policy on accounts held by people who have died. Family members can permanently remove a page. They also have the option of converting it to a “memorial” page, which allows friends to continue to...

Social Media Day - Grieving Your Friend Online

Jun 30, 2011 by Victoria Noe
YahooTwitterFacebookMySpaceYouTubeBloggerThe internet has become such a pervasive element in society – and in our lives – that it was inevitable that grief should find its way online.The Yahoo group my high school classmates started after 9/11 is still going strong, though its purpose has changed. My friend, Joe, started a Facebook group to keep friends up to date on the health of his partner, Dennis, who died a few months ago.There are Twitter accounts that exist to inform the world about deaths of celebrities.Blogs and websites are devoted to grief support.Is civilization better off with these resources?As much as I’m tempted to say “no”, I have to say yes. The ability of the internet to connect people not just with...

When Your Best Friend is Your Boss

Jun 27, 2011 by Victoria Noe
We spend a good part – perhaps the majority – of our waking hours at work: shared purpose, shared cubicles, shared snack room. The people we work with become a second family. For some people they may actually serve as a family. Most of the friendships we make last only for the time we’re in the same building. Other friendships may carry over to weekends or vacations. Some few become long-term, deeply important friendships.One such friendship is at the center of a story in today’s Chicago Tribune: “When word spread of Chief Executive James Tyree’s death spread through the 12 floors of Mesirow Financial late on March 16, several dozen employees converged on President Richard Price’s office to console each other....

Giving a Eulogy for Your Friend – Fr. Michael Duffy

Giving a Eulogy for Your Friend – Fr. Michael Duffy
Jun 24, 2011 by Victoria Noe
I’ve never been called upon to give a eulogy for a friend. I wrote the eulogy a hospice chaplain read for my father’s funeral. I’ve made remarks at friends’ memorial services. But I’ve never given a formal eulogy: never stood up in front of a gathering of mourners, script in hand, before a microphone, praying for strength.The photo here is one of the most iconic images of September 11, 2001. Fr. Mychal Judge was a New York City fire department chaplain. He died ministering at the World Trade Center. His funeral, at St. Francis of Assisi Church on West 31st Street four days later, was nationally televised. Franciscans are required to leave instructions “in the event of” their death, and...

“Let Us Learn to Show Our Friendship…”

“Let Us Learn to Show Our Friendship…”
Jun 21, 2011 by Victoria Noe
My high school reunion - 2010“Let us learn to show our friendship for a man when he is alive and not after he is dead.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald I heard that line while watching a rerun of Law & Order: UK, and I thought it was perfect for the topic of grieving the death of a friend.As I’ve interviewed people for my book, there is one subject that raises genuine passion. They’re telling me the story of a friend who has died. Sometimes there is a lot of pain: they were shut out by the family, maybe not even notified; they were not allowed access to their friend while they were dying. Maybe they couldn’t get off work to...

My Dad’s Friends

My Dad’s Friends
Jun 17, 2011 by Victoria Noe
In the backyard with DaddyMy parents were part of a group of about 6 couples. All had married around 1949, stayed married, raised their families in the same place they grew up themselves. My Dad met one guy when they were 5 years old; others he met when they worked at a factory. The men were loud and a little goofy at times. Their culinary adventures rarely extended beyond meat and potatoes or Italian food (my Dad was a notable exception to that rule). We’ve celebrated birthdays and anniversaries, weddings and baptisms with them all. With the exception of one couple closer to my age, in my fifties I still refer to them as “Mr. and Mrs.” rather than their...

Don’t Tell Me How to Grieve!

Don’t Tell Me How to Grieve!
Jun 10, 2011 by Victoria Noe
There have been times when my grief has been so overwhelming that I didn’t realize what people were saying to me. I’d nod my head, as if in agreement. I thought if they believed I was agreeing with them, they’d leave me alone. It was only later – hours, days, even months later – that their words began to make sense.My post on Wednesday, “Types of Grievers – Part 4”, really hit a nerve with people. In addition to comments on this blog, I got private emails about the subject of the post. In it, I talked about the worst kind of grieving, when you feel you can’t or shouldn’t grieve the way that makes the most sense to you.“You...

Types of Grievers – Part 4

Types of Grievers – Part 4
Jun 08, 2011 by Victoria Noe
“You need to be strong for...”“You need to move on.”“Why haven’t you cried?”We all grieve in our own way. But the fourth and final type of griever described here is the type no one wants to be. This griever can’t or won’t express their grief the way that feels most natural to them. Generally speaking, in our culture, men are expected to be the strong ones when dealing with grief, and women are expected to willingly express their feelings.Men may feel that any expression of emotion is not “masculine” and should be suppressed. Women may feel that there’s something wrong with them because they’re not crying.Men may feel they should limit their physical contact with others to stiff hugs and...

Objects Speak

Objects Speak
Jun 03, 2011 by Victoria Noe
This is a picture of a scarf that belonged to my friend, Delle. She had quite a collection of scarves. Tall and vivacious, she wore them with style, unlike those of us who struggle tying them.At the gathering after her funeral mass, those attending received “goodie bags”: a blue paper bag, with her photo on the side, with one of her scarves inside. I remember making my selection very carefully, and choosing this one. I wanted something of her, some piece of her. Its bright blues and reds and purples were familiar to me, and comforting. When I wear it, I say I’m “taking Delle with me.”Delle has traveled with me to Missouri and New York, California and Kentucky. She...

In Service to His Friends

Jun 01, 2011 by Victoria Noe
I thought I'd post something else appropriate for the week of Memorial Day.To hear a touching account of working in Graves Registration during the Vietnam War, click on the link below. And consider the opportunity to preserve the memory of your friends through StoryCorps.Friendship StoryCorps

Band of Friends

Band of Friends
May 30, 2011 by Victoria Noe
Robert Noe - 1946I was thinking today, Memorial Day, about my father. He enlisted in the Navy in January, 1946, at the age of 17. Too late for the war, he spent two years up and down the coast of California. He talked about the men he served with in much the same way as we’ve become used to in movies and on TV.We've seen many over the years - sprawling blockbusters, quiet reflections, black & white and color - on the big screen and on TV. Each is a little different, a slightly different take on war, death, life, friendship, purpose:Band of BrothersThe Great Escape“Combat!”Apocalypse Now“JAG”The Longest DayPatton“NCIS”The Great SantiniMovies and TV shows about war and the military are...

Friends Grieving All Around Us

Friends Grieving All Around Us
May 27, 2011 by Victoria Noe
There are stretches of time when it feels like there is no good news in the world. Tornadoes, earthquakes, accidents, war, floods…the bad news is relentless.I’ve been in New York for the past week, at Book Expo America and conducting research and interviews for my book. It was intense and exhilarating and exhausting. So was the news:                        *The search for loved ones in the aftermath of killer tornadoes in the Midwest.*A New York City firefighter, a survivor of 9/11 who never got over the guilt of surviving his brother firefighters in the Deutsche Bank fire, committed suicide.*A sailor just arrived in NYC that day for Fleet Week, was struck and killed by a car on the West Side Highway.Obviously,...

Things You Can Do When a Friend is Dying

Things You Can Do When a Friend is Dying
May 19, 2011 by Victoria Noe
One of the hardest things about experiencing the death of a friend is figuring out what you can do.Their family may have the essentials covered, or they may live in a supportive community.Maybe not; you won’t know unless you ask.Courtney Strain was dying when she wrote a beautiful, short pamphlet What you can do when a friend (like me) faces the end of life. She wanted people to know that the dying are living every day, and they still need their friends. An excerpt:“Just because I’m dying doesn’t mean I’m any less capable of being your friend. Dying isn’t my whole identity. Let me be a real person in your life. I can talk about other things besides death and...

Dying Matters - For Friends, Too

Dying Matters - For Friends, Too
May 17, 2011 by Victoria Noe
I’m in my best friend’s will.She told me long ago what she was leaving me. It has no value to anyone in her family; in fact, she’d prefer they didn’t open the box at all. It’s a personal keepsake of our past, mostly high school.I think it was when I was in St. Louis for her father’s funeral that I told her there was huge flaw in this plan. “You’re assuming you go first,” I told her. After a moment, she agreed that was problematic. (Plus, I really, really, really would like to have that box now.)This week is Dying Matters week in the UK, a time for people to at least begin the difficult conversations we must have but...