Victoria Noe

Award-winning Author, Speaker, Activist

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Friend Grief

Grieving Friends Lost in Two Different Wars

Grieving Friends Lost in Two Different Wars
May 26, 2015 by Victoria Noe
When I was writing Friend Grief and the Military: Band of Friends, I was struck by the stories of grief and survivor guilt. Though many of the stories came from those doing the actual fighting, there were also those that came from non-combatants: war correspondents, medics, chaplains, nurses, even a little drummer boy.

As I read them, I couldn’t help feeling a sense of déjà vu. It wasn’t that I’d necessarily heard these stories before, but rather stories that were very similar. Only after several weeks did it become obvious to me: not all those who experience war faced an enemy armed with guns and bombs. Some faced off against a virus.

Activist/author Larry Kramer referred to AIDS as a plague. It...

Laurel: A Guest Post by Fred Eberle

Laurel: A Guest Post by Fred Eberle
Mar 25, 2015 by Victoria Noe
Lauren Cronin & Fred EberleI’ve known Fred Eberle since 1989, when I was on staff at Chicago House and he was one of my most dedicated volunteers. He is, without a doubt, one of the most talented, generous, thoughtful men I’ve ever known (he's blushing right now, trust me). I’m so pleased that he agreed to share this story of one of the most important friendships of his life.My friend, Laurel was…a force of nature.  When she entered a room her energy and charisma filled the space. Laurel Cronin was a brilliant actress and director, and when she was onstage it was hard to watch anyone else. It wasn’t that she intentionally pulled focus; she drew it to her. From the...

Brain Injury Awareness Week

Brain Injury Awareness Week
Mar 17, 2015 by Victoria Noe
For most people, March 17 is a day to celebrate being – or pretending to be – Irish. For me, though, it’s the anniversary of a day that changed my life.On St. Patrick’s Day, 2009, I was sitting at a red light when I was rear-ended (no alcohol involved). It was not the first time it happened to me, but this time turned out to be very different. I became one of the 2.3 million people who suffer a traumatic brain injury each year.The car sustained very minor damage. I had terrible head pain, but again, I didn’t think much of it. That evening, I was nauseous. I assumed I was just upset about the accident. I know full well...

"You have been - and always shall be - my friend"

"You have been - and always shall be - my friend"
Mar 03, 2015 by Victoria Noe
Nimoy at Phoenix Comicon Unless you live under a rock, you know that actor Leonard Nimoy, the Vulcan first officer Mr. Spock on the original Star Trek series, died at the age of 83. And though he was surrounded by his family when he died, they were not the people the media reached out to first. They were not the people his long-time fans wanted to hear from. They wanted to hear from his friends.   Most of those who were interviewed were former cast-mates on Star Trek, along with others who worked with him in his impressive career on stage, television and film. Many found it challenging to express their grief for a man they counted as their friend for decades.   Not everyone – even celebrities – can...

Coming Soon to Friend Grief

Coming Soon to Friend Grief
Feb 25, 2015 by Victoria Noe
Have you been busy? I sure have. And that means there’s a lot coming soon here on Friend Grief in the next few weeks:The re-release of Friend Grief and AIDS: Thirty Years of Burying Our Friends with updated statistics and resources for 2015. As always, 25% of the retail price of ebook and paperback versions will benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.The release of the fifth book in the series, Friend Grief in the Workplace: More Than an Empty Cubicle(cover reveal next week).Another great guest post for your enjoyment.The debut of my new, full website, VictoriaNoe.com. (Don’t get excited – it’s not live yet) The new website will include this blog, along with lots of added content:Discussion questions for each bookA...

Grieving Your Friends on Facebook

Grieving Your Friends on Facebook
Feb 18, 2015 by Victoria Noe
Last week two separate articles caught my eye.The first was the announcement by Facebookthat users could now designate an “executor” to manage your account after you die.I’ve written before about friend grief and Facebook: finding out about a friend’s death, setting up a tribute page, and the shock of seeing a notice of their upcoming birthday. You'll see a few links at the bottom of this post.For years, surviving friends and family members have struggled with what to do about the deceased’s online accounts. Sometimes it’s the challenge of finding the password that no one else knew. Sometimes it’s proving to Facebook that that person died and their page should be archived. In addition, multiple tribute pages can pop up...

Friend Grief and…Valentine’s Day?

Friend Grief and…Valentine’s Day?
Feb 10, 2015 by Victoria Noe
Good. I got your attention.Valentine’s Day is certainly not a day we associate with friends. It’s one designed to guilt-trip us into spending lots of money on flowers, candy, dinner, lingerie, etc. to share with a romantic partner. Friends? Not so much.I remember when I was younger, that I hated the time between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day. The holidays were all about families, and I was single. The last holiday was the worst, because the expectations were so ridiculously unrealistic. So let’s ignore all the hype and guilt and consider our friends.I don’t know about you, but I found 2014 to be an unusually challenging year. So did a lot of my friends. Relationships, finances, health, or a combination of...

The Story of a Pink Cloud – Guest Blogger Rebecca Bricker

The Story of a Pink Cloud – Guest Blogger Rebecca Bricker
Feb 03, 2015 by Victoria Noe
Rebecca BrickerMy friendship with Rebecca Bricker is like many of those in the 21st century: online. We met four years ago (time flies when you’re having fun). We’ve never met in real life, though she may meet my daughter soon.The story of how she wound up living in Tuscany is both funny and compelling. No, she’s not the author of Under the Tuscan Sun, but her Tales from Tavanti is every bit as entertaining.If you’re like me, certain things will trigger the memory of a friend who died. For example, whenever I see a steel-grey PT Cruiser, I assume it’s Delle behind the wheel. Rebecca Bricker has a very deliberate ritual to ensure that she’ll remember.My thanks to Rebecca for...

Friend Grief and Shaming

Friend Grief and Shaming
Jan 27, 2015 by Victoria Noe
Nicholas Kristof - NY TimesI’m not sure when it began, this need to feel morally superior. But we see it everywhere. “My beliefs/race/gender/income/profession make me better than you” permeates our society. And sadly, we even see it when we grieve our friends.Perhaps it’s as simple as a need to find a logical explanation for something that doesn’t make sense. Assigning blame makes us feel a little better about what happened. Some of the responses I’ve heard when sharing the news of a friend’s death are:“A bodybuilder? Steroids, huh?”“Melanoma? Did they go to tanning salons a lot?”“Heart attack? Well, they were overweight.”“AIDS? They must’ve slept around.”Your first reaction may be to dispute their assumptions. Or you may feel ashamed that they...

Celebrating Your Friends

Celebrating Your Friends
Jan 09, 2015 by Victoria Noe
There was supposed to be a party today.“I want to make it to 90,” Pierre told me when he was 88. His parents had only lived to their 70s, but others in his family had lived longer.“We should have a party,” I suggested. He liked that idea. I mean, if you’re going to live that long, you deserve a celebration. “You could have dancing girls.”His eyes lit up. He liked that idea, too. We never had a chance to discuss details. Pierre died last January, a short time after his 89th birthday.We don’t always remember our friends on their birthdays. Sometimes we remember them on the day they died. November 22 is the day we remember President John F. Kennedy,...

Friend Grief's Top Five List for 2014

Dec 19, 2014 by Victoria Noe
The year is almost over and I thought it would be a good time to look back on the posts that generated the most interest this year.The funny thing about writing is that you don’t always know what resonates with people. Sometimes you write something that you believe is so brilliant it will change the lives of everyone who reads it – and obviously, everyone in the world will read it. That usually doesn’t happen. Sometimes you write something that’s definitely not your best effort, but there’s something about it that hits a nerve.This list certainly surprised me:#5 Update on Friend Grief and AIDS The second book in my series has been the most popular by far. It’s also the...

Friend Grief Without (too much) Guilt

Friend Grief Without (too much) Guilt
Dec 11, 2014 by Victoria Noe
There are different kinds of guilt. There’s the guilt we feel for saying or doing something that hurt someone else. And there’s the guilt we feel for not saying or doing something.About a month ago, I acted on a whim. It was something I’d thought about doing for a while, but hadn’t done. What possessed me, I have no idea.During college I lost touch with the guy I took to prom junior year. We did a couple musicals together, and he also came with me to my senior Christmas dance. We had fun together (not to mention my first kiss). Dan was often overshadowed by his popular older brother, a very talented actor and pianist. But I think one of...

"All My Friends Are Dead"

"All My Friends Are Dead"
Dec 04, 2014 by Victoria Noe
Pierre on "Combat"Growing up in the 60s, I was, along with my friends, definitely anti-war. I knew guys who served in Vietnam – two who died – but I didn’t agree with the war. It seemed odd to many that one of our favorite TV shows was Combat! It ran from 1962-67, and featured a squad of American soldiers in France after the D-Day invasion. We watched the show because we thought the actors were cute. And my favorite was Pierre Jalbert.Pierre was my “type”: under six feet tall, dark, lean. The French accent didn’t hurt. It was a great, long-distance fantasy…until we met.The night we metIt’s a long story that I won’t get into, but one night in 1984, I...

World AIDS Day 2014

World AIDS Day 2014
Dec 01, 2014 by Victoria Noe
Today, December 1, is the 27th annual observance of World AIDS Day.Since that first year, when I dropped a few pounds in the collection can at the curtain call of a play in London, I’ve marked the anniversary.The second year I coordinated a fundraising event. Some years I went to a special Mass or memorial service. Other years I simply made note of it and went about my business.This year I’ll be part of a reading and panel discussion at Women & Children First bookstore in Chicago about the generation gap in the AIDS community. This reflection on Huffington Post last week will give you an idea of what that means in terms of fighting the epidemic.The theme for World...

Thankful for Our Friends – Here and Gone

Thankful for Our Friends – Here and Gone
Nov 25, 2014 by Victoria Noe
The holidays are a difficult time for those who grieve.Even under normal circumstances, we feel obligated to be happy, to enjoy ourselves, to crave the company of others. But for those who have suffered the loss of a friend, it’s tough to get in the holiday spirit.We often hear that this time of year is for family. I think we all agree that we like to reconnect with friends, as well. I look forward to seeing friends from high school – often the only time all year we can sit together in one place and catch up on our lives. Next year we’ll have a reunion, but since we lost a classmate on 9/11, we don’t wait around for the...

Keeping in Touch with a Friend Who Died

Keeping in Touch with a Friend Who Died
Nov 07, 2014 by Victoria Noe
Delle ChatmanI was helping my mother sort through old papers yesterday morning: bank statements, tax returns, paid bills. The shredder simply stopped twice, overheated and tired. On one of its breaks, I picked up two envelopes addressed to her in my handwriting. Puzzled, I opened them both to find copies of emails I had shared with my parents: emails from my friend, Delle Chatman.When I realized what they were, I had to smile. You see, today is eight years since Delle died. I’ve felt her presence on occasion – so strongly at times I’ve heard her voice and once even felt her arms around me. My first thought upon seeing the emails was, “Gee, you’ve been quiet for a while....

Friend Grief and the Holidays

Friend Grief and the Holidays
Nov 03, 2014 by Victoria Noe
Now that we’re past Halloween, the holidays are upon us. You may not be ready, but they’re coming anyway. For the first time in a long time, I will have my Christmas shopping done before Thanksgiving. But that was a self-defense decision, as I have an unusual amount of holiday commitments this year.This may be a year in which you’ve lost a friend – or more than one. We tend to think of grieving during the holidays in the context of losing a family member. That’s often the case. It’s been forty years since my uncle died in a car accident less than two weeks before Christmas. There was not much to celebrate that year. Even when a death occurs...

The End of the Friend Grief Series?

Oct 29, 2014 by Victoria Noe
Don’t get excited. It’s not happening tomorrow.When I made the decision to serialize what was originally one book I knew it would eventually end. I believed there would be six books in the series. That’s still my assumption. What’s changed is the subject of the sixth one.By now you know that I’ve published four books            Friend Grief and Anger: When Your Friend Dies and No One Gives A Damn            Friend Grief and AIDS: Thirty Years of Burying Our Friends            Friend Grief and 9/11: The Forgotten Mourners            Friend Grief and the Military: Band of FriendsThe fifth book, Friend Grief in the Workplace: More Than an Empty Cubicle, comes out in January (details will be announced in mid-December).I thought the sixth book...

Where to Find Friend Grief

Where to Find Friend Grief
Oct 17, 2014 by Victoria Noe
Don’t you love autumn? As far as I’m concerned, you can’t have too many sweaters. It feels like everything ramps up in intensity once the school year starts. And so it is with me.Here are some upcoming events where you can find me:Oct. 23            I’ll be leading a chat on Twitter from 7-8pn (EDT) for @DeathwDignity. Look for the hashtag #dwdchat. If you’re n ot already following me on Twitter, you can find me                                         @Victoria_Noe.Oct. 25            If you’re near Rockford, Illinois, I’ll be at the InPrint Book Fair, hosted by the fabulous Rockford group, In Print Writers. Over 30...

An Awkward Response to a Coworker's Death

Oct 03, 2014 by Victoria Noe
I blogged about the famous “Chuckles Bites The Dust” episode on The Mary Tyler Moore Showin 2011. I looked at it in terms of a person’s reaction to a friend’s death, which can sometimes appear inappropriate (like laughing at a funeral).But I decided to return to it as I work on the next book in my series, Friend Grief in the Workplace: More Than an Empty Cubicle.Chuckles, after all, was a clown – or rather, playing a clown was his job. He was – to put it mildly – not taken seriously by his coworkers. So it was not surprising that on hearing of his death, they immediately began to joke about him.Mary was horrified that they made fun of...