Victoria Noe

Award-winning Author, Speaker, Activist

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Friend Grief

Avoiding Grief at Work

Avoiding Grief at Work
Sep 26, 2014 by Victoria Noe
He looked great in a tux, tooI’ve been working hard lately on the next book in my series, Friend Grief in the Workplace: More Than an Empty Cubicle. But I struggled to find some validation about the importance of friendships at work.There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence: stories you’ll read in the book. What I wanted was something more objective. Maybe I needed to conduct my own survey, a daunting prospect I was not prepared to seriously consider. So I ignored the issue for a couple days. As luck would have it, just such a survey presented itself yesterday morning.You’ll learn more about the survey results in the book, but one of the obvious truths in it was the evidence that we...

How Celebrities Grieve Their Friends

Aug 26, 2014 by Victoria Noe
Yes, I know I wasn't going to write about celebrities. But doesn’t it seem like a lot of them have died in the past month or so? James Garner, Sir Richard Attenborough, Lauren Bacall, Robin Williams, Elaine Stritch: all left grieving families and friends, just like non-celebrities – with one glaring difference.Celebrities leave friends behind who are anonymous and others who are also celebrities. And while those live their lives in the glare of the media, that doesn’t mean that they’re capable of grieving gracefully in public. You may be surprised or even critical of them.Remember Paul McCartney? He was roundly criticized for his “It’s a drag” comment the day after John Lennon was murdered.People who hadn’t worked with Robin Williams...

Not Another Post about Robin Williams

Not Another Post about Robin Williams
Aug 19, 2014 by Victoria Noe
www.ew.comI was just about to post last week when television, radio and the internet exploded with news of Robin Williams’ death. I’ve posted here about how and why we grieve when a celebrity dies. And I decided I didn’t want to write another blog post about celebrities.But the topic I’d intended to share suddenly didn’t seem very important. I couldn’t stop thinking about Robin Williams. I’ve been a fan since “Mork and Mindy”. I have friends who worked and played with him, who are devastated. So I still could’ve written about him. I mean, why not? Everybody else has.Like many of you reading this, I know people who have committed suicide. One was a high school classmate. One was a...

“Oh, That’s Depressing” – Writing about Friend Grief

“Oh, That’s Depressing” – Writing about Friend Grief
Aug 05, 2014 by Victoria Noe
I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve told someone what I write about. “Oh, that’s depressing” is certainly the most frequent negative response. Luckily, I don’t hear it too often.I was in New York last week at the Writers Digest Conference. Going to this particular conference in January, 2011, was what really kick-started my writing career. I met people there (and shortly after) who are still trusted advisors and friends. I started tweeting on my way to the conference so I wasn’t the only one there who wasn’t on Twitter. This blog began a week later.Although I haven’t been posting as regularly the past few months, it’s not because I had nothing to say. There were health...

Friend Grief and Reunions

Friend Grief and Reunions
Jul 29, 2014 by Victoria Noe
Our 2010 reunionIt’s reunion season.I graduated from Nerinx Hall, a Catholic girls school run by the ever-progressive Sisters of Loretto in St. Louis. Since our 20th reunion, we’ve met every five years.We’ve met in the school cafeteria, a country club, and the home of one of our classmates. Sometimes we’ve had one event, sometimes two over a weekend. Certain traditions are included at each reunion.First, no men. We made that mistake at the five year reunion (actually held a year late) and decided it was too much trouble to entertain husbands or boyfriends. We have a lot more fun when it’s just us.Second, before we meet for dinner or brunch, we have a tour of the school to see the...

Friend Grief at Work

Jul 22, 2014 by Victoria Noe
Once you’re done with school, the most likely place to meet new people is through your job. And some of them become terrific friends.Maybe you shared an office and worked on a project together.Maybe the two of you were in the same movie.Maybe you were baristas in the same coffee house.Maybe you taught in the same school.Maybe you found yourselves assigned to the same firehouse after graduating from the academy.And then they died.The first four books in the Friend Grief series have included some people who worked together: first responders on 9/11, active duty military, war correspondents and actors. All shared a love of their jobs and a deep affection for their friends. All struggled with the grief of losing...

Grieving Your Friend Onstage

Grieving Your Friend Onstage
Jul 18, 2014 by Victoria Noe
capitalfringe.orgIt’s hard for people to express their grief in words. While crying may be acceptable in some settings, it’s not easy to find a setting to discuss your grief. And for young people, who have not experienced a lot of loss, it can be doubly hard.A University of Maryland theatre major worked through the loss of three of his friends in the only way he knew how: onstage.Brendan O’Connell lost three of his friends in a drunk-driving accident in the summer of 2011. One had been his best friend for 15 years, next-door neighbors who grew up together.His grief was compounded by the knowledge that he’d begged off riding with them that night. When he returned to college, he was,...

Should You Send Flowers to a Dying Friend?

Should You Send Flowers to a Dying Friend?
Jul 10, 2014 by Victoria Noe
You know what it’s like.You’ve had friends who were dying and refused visitors. Maybe they were overwhelmed, depressed, scared, determined to face their fate alone. Maybe they’d lost a lot of weight and didn’t want anyone to see them ‘like that’. Maybe they didn’t want to see ‘the look’: the facial expression that they interpret as pity.You’ve had friends who even refused to talk on the phone. Maybe talking was painful or difficult. Maybe their memories were shaky. Maybe they just weren’t prepared to talk about their illness with anyone.Those refusals are their right, although being on the other end hurts.You know your friend is dying – or suspect they are, because information is so sketchy. They’ve set very clear...

Share Your Friend Grief Story

Share Your Friend Grief Story
Jun 23, 2014 by Victoria Noe
Believe it or not, the final two books in the Friend Grief series will be published this fall. I’m looking for additional stories for both books. Do you have a story that will fit one of them?Workplace griefThe next book is titled Friend Grief in the Workplace: More Than an Empty Cubicle. The stories in it are about people coping with the death of a co-worker who was also a friend. Don’t let the title throw you off, though: I have a pretty broad definition of workplace. There are already stories of friends who worked together at a coffeehouse, a TV studio, a newspaper, a firehouse. Maybe you’re an actor or dancer, a server or bartender, a medical professional or...

Friend Grief and "If/Then"

Jun 17, 2014 by Victoria Noe
Artwork by Zina Saunders“He broke your heart, didn’t he?”I was New York City last month, sitting in the mezzanine at the Sunday matinee of a new musical. Musicals are my ‘thing’; always have been, always will be. Acting, singing, dancing: what’s not to like? The show had been enthusiastically recommended by my daughter, who did not tell me much about the plot (as it turns out, deliberately).“He broke your heart, didn’t he?”If/Then, starring the remarkable Idina Menzel opens with the story of Elizabeth (or Beth or Liz, depending on which friend is speaking), newly back in NYC after a disastrous 12 year marriage/exile in Phoenix. The title refers to the theme of the show: choices. She has two invitations: one...

Friend Grief in New York - Part 2

Friend Grief in New York - Part 2
Jun 06, 2014 by Victoria Noe
Book #4 in the New Title ShowcaseThis post is a bit of a departure from normal posts. It’s a look at what Friend Grief – the blog and the books (the brand, if you will) – was doing at Book Expo America.I’ve attended BEA before (so I wore comfortable shoes and allocated time for standing in the Starbucks line), but this year was different. I had a very specific purpose for being there and the first ever Author Hub gave me the opportunity to take a big step forward.The Author Hub was a dedicated area for self-published authors. Over the course of three days, we heard speakers address a variety of business topics (marketing, rights, agents, discoverability). We had room...

Friend Grief in New York - Part 1

Friend Grief in New York - Part 1
Jun 04, 2014 by Victoria Noe
This is the first of two posts this week recapping my experiences in New York City last week. I was primarily there to be part of the Author Hub at Book Expo America (more about that on Friday). But today I want to tell about my first NYC book signing.Friend Grief and AIDS: Thirty Years of Burying Our Friendsgrew out of my experience in Chicago’s AIDS community in the late 80s/early 90s. I was a fundraiser, often the only straight person in the room. And though many people asked me why I involved in “that”, I felt a responsibility to do what I could.An unexpected but remarkable result of writing this book has been meeting men in ACT UP (AIDS...

When the Hero is an Army Nurse

When the Hero is an Army Nurse
May 24, 2014 by Victoria Noe
Army Capt. Jennifer MorenoMost of the people in the military are men. It’s been a tradition for thousands of years, reinforced by societal norms. I’m old enough to remember when the military academies were men-only, and most jobs in every branch of service were restricted to men. Although combat roles are slowly being filled by women, women have been on the front lines for a very long time.Some of those in danger are noncombatants: medical personnel, chaplains, even war correspondents. The ones included in my book were well aware of their vulnerability. But it didn’t stop them from doing their jobs. Only death could do that.Army nurse Captain Jennifer Moreno received a Bronze Star posthumously for heroic actions on October...

A Bracelet of Honor for His Friends

A Bracelet of Honor for His Friends
May 19, 2014 by Victoria Noe
stripes.comOn Tuesday, President Obama bestowed the nation’s highest award for military valor – the Medal of Honor – on former Army Sgt. Kyle White. When you read this description from Stars and Stripes, keep in mind his age:White received the nation’s highest award for military valor in recognition of his actions during a patrol in the steep, rugged mountains near Aranas in eastern Afghanistan. He was serving as a radiotelephone operator with C Company, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade when his team of U.S. and Afghan National Army troops were ambushed on Nov. 9, 2007 by a larger and more heavily armed Taliban force after a meeting with Afghan villagers.Describing White as “a soldier who embodies...

News from Friend Grief

News from Friend Grief
May 16, 2014 by Victoria Noe
I’m heading into a very busy few weeks – all good! If you’re in New York or Chicago, here’s what’s on the calendar:May 29-31 - Book Expo America, Jacob Javits Center, NYCI’ll be in the new Author Hub, showcasing a small group of self-published authors. If you’re attending BEA, including Saturday’s Book Con for the general public, please stop by and say hi!My new book, Friend Grief and the Military: Band of Friends is featured in the New Title Showcase.May 31 - uPublishU, Jacob Javits Center, NYCThe final day of Book Expo America includes a self-publishing conference, uPublishU. I’m excited to be the only author on the panel “Build Your Author Platform and Publish Successfully”.June 1 - Bureau of General Services...

Be My Guest on Friend Grief

Be My Guest on Friend Grief
May 08, 2014 by Victoria Noe
James Montgomery FlaggIn addition to interviewing people for my books, from time to time, I invite people to share their experience grieving the death of a friend. Now is one of those times.Oh, you’d like to, but you’re not a professional writer? Don’t let that hold you back! Would you feel more comfortable simply answering a series of questions? We can do that!In general, here are the requirements:The experience you describe must be related to the death of a friend. They don’t have to be a close friend, nor does the loss need to be recent. It just has to be about a friend – not a family member or pet.If you choose to write it yourself, I’d like something...

Coming Soon from Friend Grief

Coming Soon from Friend Grief
Apr 22, 2014 by Victoria Noe
It’s very busy in my house: spring cleaning, office reorganization and the next book in the Friend Grief series about to be published. So I thought this is a good time to let you know what’s coming in the next couple months:I’ll be in the first AuthorHub at Book Expo America, May 29-31. It’s a special area for self-published authors, and includes such superstars as Hugh Howey. (I’m definitely not in his league, but it’s nice to bask in the glow.) If you’re attending, please stop by and say hi!Here on Friend Grief during May, leading up to the next book’s publication, I’ll have a series of posts on people and organizations I’ve met during the research, including Stop Soldier...

Policing the Grief Police

Policing the Grief Police
Apr 15, 2014 by Victoria Noe
A couple weeks ago we considered the Grief Police. They’re the people who are more than willing to tell you how to grieve the death of your friend. In fact, they’re probably telling you that you’re making too big a deal out of it.I asked what people want to hear when a friend dies. It’s not really that different than what anyone who’s grieving wants to hear: a simple “I’m sorry” or “I’m glad to listen if you want to talk about it.”  But those comments require a certain amount of empathy, basic human compassion. And frankly, not everyone is capable of that.So, how to respond when someone says something stupid like “it’s not like they were family”? I suppose,...

Friend Grief and Medics

Friend Grief and Medics
Apr 01, 2014 by Victoria Noe
Conlan Carter as Doc on "Combat!"Imagine you work in an emergency room. You’re an orderly, maybe – no rank in the pecking order. You might be the only one there to help, or you might have help, but not from a doctor or nurse – there aren’t any. It’s all on you.Every day – in bursts of activity that last for hours – your workplace is filled with patients. They’re screaming and panicky or very, very still. Some are missing legs or eyes; others have horrific head wounds. The floors are covered with blood and bandages and random pieces of flesh.You’re trying to be in three places at once; responding to whichever patient you think can be stabilized and moved...

The Friend Grief Police

The Friend Grief Police
Mar 18, 2014 by Victoria Noe
You know who they are, because they made you feel like this.You tell them your friend died, and they probably said one of these things to you:            “I know just how you feel. My dog died.’ “Aren’t you over that yet?”“You’re not crying, are you?”“It’s not like your mother died or something.” “Well, they were overweight/smoked/drank/did drugs.”Don’t you love people like that? Instead of just saying “I’m sorry”, they feel free to pass judgment – not just on how you grieve but that you grieve at all for your friend.They are usually self-appointed, though at times will hide behind religious vestments to justify their opinions. It’s okay to be hurt and angry. They just won’t understand. Ten people in the same place at...