Victoria Noe

Award-winning Author, Speaker, Activist

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Friend Grief

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...

"Body Counts" by Sean Strub

"Body Counts" by Sean Strub
Mar 13, 2014 by Victoria Noe
I’m not a fan of memoirs. I find a lot of them to be self-serving justifications for past behavior, spinning a fictional tale that presents the narrator as either a victim or hero. And while AIDS is an issue I’ve been involved with since the 80s, Sean Strub’s Body Counts was not a book I was excited about reading. Strub changed my mind on page 2, when he mentioned that a mutual friend, Jamie Leo, dressed as a priest at ACT UP’s controversial 1989 St. Patricks’ Cathedral demonstration. My mind flashed back to a Halloween party Jamie and I had attended in the mid-70s, and I now found myself connected to Strub’s story in a way I hadn’t anticipated.Body Counts...

Another Celebrity “Friend” Dies

Another Celebrity “Friend” Dies
Feb 26, 2014 by Victoria Noe
suntimes.comThere’s been a lot on the news, on the internet, in the papers the past 48 hours about the death of writer/director/actor Harold Ramis; even more here in Chicago, because he was one of “us”.Again – as we saw recently in the case of Philip Seymour Hoffman – people are sharing their grief as if he were a close personal friend.And again, others are asking “Why?”Why do we mourn the death of someone we’ve never met?Why do we feel as if we’ve lost someone who was a part of our lives?Why do we act as if they were our friend?Certainly, the internet and social media like Twitter and Facebook have enabled millions to share their thoughts and feelings with the world....

Friend Grief - Guilt vs. Regret

Friend Grief - Guilt vs. Regret
Feb 18, 2014 by Victoria Noe
Guilt:responsibility for a crime or for doing something bad or wrong; a bad feeling caused by knowing or thinking that you have done something bad or wrong. Regret:to mourn the loss or death of; to miss very much; to be very sorry for.(Definitions courtesy of Merriam-Webster Dictionary) Often when a friend dies, we feel overwhelmed by what might have been. There are good memories to comfort us, stories we can share with other friends. But often – too often – the negative feelings overshadow everything else. And we feel guilty.Or do we? There are certainly times when guilt is an accurate response to the news that a friend has died. If you promised to call/visit, and then blew them off...

Anger, Condemnation and Philip Seymour Hoffman

Feb 06, 2014 by Victoria Noe
As I work on the next book in my series, Friend Grief and the Military: Band of Friends, I’m immersed in stories of survivor guilt. Men and women are haunted for years about what they see as their failure to prevent the death of their friend, even if their friend died from suicide. Rarely is there a situation where that guilt is logically justified, but that doesn’t stop it from tearing people apart.Lately, the news is full of the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman from an apparent heroin overdose. I’ve heard very little from his friends in terms of survivor guilt. What I have heard should disturb us all.“He didn’t love his kids enough to stop using.”“Celebrities think nothing...

Random Thoughts on Friend Grief

Jan 26, 2014 by Victoria Noe
Last week, there was a horrific crash on I-94 near Michigan City, Indiana. Four dozen vehicles – including 18 semis – were involved in the accident caused by icy roads and whiteout conditions. Three people died.A story that came out today was about one of those who died. His family was notified by someone at the coroner’s office who recognized him when the body was delivered.Now and then we hear stories of first responders who arrive at the scene of a tragedy, only to find that they know a victim. This was someone who wasn’t there, but I imagine the shock of recognition was just as great.As I research the next book on the military, I hear stories about troops...

Update on Friend Grief and AIDS

Update on Friend Grief and AIDS
Jan 14, 2014 by Victoria Noe
One of the benefits of self-publishing is the ability to revise your books at your discretion.The second book in my series, Friend Grief and AIDS: Thirty Years of Burying Our Friends, has been well-received. It recently earned a 5-star review on Readers Favorites and continues to generate impassioned – and positive – reviews on other sites.When I wrote it a year ago, the statistics and resources in the back of the book were current. Time for an update.Around March 1, I will re-release Friend Grief and AIDS with:Updated statistics on HIV and AIDS around the worldAdditional books and films for those who are interestedMore links to organizations devoted to education, prevention, treatment and advocacyIf you have already purchased a copy,...

Being Loyal to a Dead Friend

Being Loyal to a Dead Friend
Jan 10, 2014 by Victoria Noe
Yesterday I was watching a little French film called Delicacy, starring one of my favorite actresses, Audrey Tautou. She plays a young woman whose world is turned upside down when her husband, Francois, is killed suddenly. She throws herself into her work, so she doesn’t have to feel.But after several years, a most unlikely co-worker develops feelings for her. One night he winds up at her apartment, where a small party is taking place. All of the people there were friends with her husband, and they don’t respond well to this new man’s presence. “This is the first time they’ve seen me with anyone,” she explains.Maybe you’ve been one of those friends. The spouse/partner of a deceased friend has found...

This Year – and Next - in Friend Grief

This Year – and Next - in Friend Grief
Dec 27, 2013 by Victoria Noe
Those of you who have been following my blog for a while know that this has been quite a year. I think we all have the tendency to look back in late December, and cringe at the thought of all we’d planned to do but didn’t. I started to do that not long ago, but had to stop myself. I was looking at only one part of my goals for this year, and in that category I definitely came up short: I self-published three books instead of six. Yeah, I know, I was a bit too optimistic. But what surprised me more than anything was what I accomplished that was not on my list. And I’ll tell you right now,...

Friends, Calendars and Facebook

Friends, Calendars and Facebook
Dec 24, 2013 by Victoria Noe
Happy birthday, MareI used to be very diligent about recording birthdays on my calendar. Every year, I’d get a new datebook and wall calendar, and the first thing I’d do is list birthdays of friends and family. Somehow I got out of that habit. When I was addressing Christmas cards the other day, I paged through my address book (yes, I still have an actual address book). Every time I turned to a new page, I said to myself “he’s dead” or “she’s dead” or “they’re both dead”. I don’t know about you, but I can’t bring myself to get a new address book. That would mean not putting in names of friends and family who are no longer...

#ThrowbackThursday

#ThrowbackThursday
Dec 11, 2013 by Victoria Noe
I know today’s Wednesday. Bear with me. For those not on Facebook, the online community has embraced a couple of day-specific rituals. One is “Hump Day” on Wednesdays (admit it – you’re thinking about that commercial with the camel in the office, aren’t you?). Fridays, of course are “TGIF”. One that is relatively new is reserved for Thursdays.#ThrowbackThursday is devoted to recalling the past. On that day, you will likely see people posting photos of themselves and people they know. Sometimes they post pictures of themselves as children. Sometimes they post old family photos. But what I’ve noticed is that most of their pictures are of friends.Sometimes it’s a photo of just one person, a friend from their...

World AIDS Day 2013

World AIDS Day 2013
Dec 01, 2013 by Victoria Noe
In his November 4 review of Time Line Theatre’s revival of The Normal Heart, the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Jones attempts to put the play in historical context: “AIDS is no longer a death sentence.” If only.While it is true that those newly diagnosed are not given a prognosis of, say, thirty days (like Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club), in the fourth decade of the epidemic, there is still no cure and no vaccine. According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), new infections are on the rise in Eastern Europe and Central Asia: 13% since 2006. In the past 12 years, new HIV infections have doubled in North African and the Middle East. Worldwide, 1.6 million people...