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
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…”
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
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!
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
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...
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
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...
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
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...
What Kind of Griever Are You? - Part 2
Apr 20, 2011 by Victoria Noe
Everyone grieves differently.Often, people assume that someone who cries or talks about the person who has died is not handling their grief well. They are encouraged to stop crying, to not dwell on the past. But for that person, that’s how they express their grief. Others are what may be defined as “instrumental” grievers. Rather than express their grief by crying, they are more likely to intellectualize their grief. They want to understand their grief, but they don’t want to talk about it. They want to control their grief, so it doesn’t overwhelm them, or surprise them, or distract them.They may also want to ‘do’ things. They may show up with food for the family, or run errands for them....
The Melody of Friendship
Apr 15, 2011 by Victoria Noe
When I read Viki’s post, “Do You Need Any Help?”, I immediately thought of my best friend, Judy, who died of breast cancer in 1993 after a five year battle. Viki invited me to do a guest post on what it is like to lose a dear friend. Let me tell you about Judy…Where do I begin to describe a friendship of twenty years; a friendship that endured life’s many tough lessons and trials? The diagnosis of cancer, the rigors of single parenting, the challenges of living in a fast-paced world were all intertwined throughout this friendship. We clung to each other through the maze of self-discoveries, growth, career changes, family milestones, achievements and failures.I didn’t realize I would be...
D is for “Disenfranchised”
Apr 04, 2011 by Victoria Noe
I’m on an A to Z blog challenge, and today is the 4th day of the challenge. That explains the pithy title. ;)I didn’t know when I decided to write my book that there was such a thing as “disenfranchised grief”, coined by Dr. Kenneth Doka of the College of New Rochelle, in 1989. In the 2002 revision of his Disenfranchised Grief: Recognizing Hidden Sorrow, Dr. Doka observes how the grief a friend experiences can be dismissed:“Often there is no recognized role in which mourners can assert the right to mourn and thus receive such support. Grief may have to remain private. Though they may have experienced an intense loss, they may not be given time off from work, have...
"Do You Need Any Help?"
Mar 30, 2011 by Victoria Noe
When someone dies, most people have good intentions. They want to mourn, they want to remember. And they want to help those who are grieving themselves.Often, when you grieve the death of a friend, the focus is on their family. They are the “primary” mourners. They are the ones who get the most sympathy. And families do deserve sympathy and support.The standard question is, “do you need any help?” Now that’s not always the best thing to ask. For one, it puts the burden on the griever to identify and express that need. They may not be thinking clearly enough to do that. It can also come off as insincere, as if the person asking is hoping the answer is no.Even...
When A Celebrity Dies
Mar 26, 2011 by Victoria Noe
I recently posted on the phenomenon of grieving when a celebrity dies. We grieve because we have a connection to them, just as we do with our real friends. “I felt like I knew them” is a familiar explanation.Aurora Winter’s article, Elizabeth Taylor: 5 Tips for Overcoming Grief When a Celebrity Dies, looks at this from the perspective of actress and AIDS activist Elizabeth Taylor’s recent death. She has some thought-provoking tips for using a celebrity’s death as a catalyst for your own life. Read her article at: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Elizabeth-Taylor-5-Tips-for-prnews-1227967326.html?x=0&.v=1Monday – Back at Ground ZeroWednesday – “Do You Need Any Help?”Friday – Longtime Companion
Memorializing Your Friends – StoryCorps
Mar 23, 2011 by Victoria Noe
One of the disadvantages some people feel when a friend dies is the inability to pay tribute to their friend. You might give a gift in their memory to their favorite charity or cause.But we want the world to know how important and special this friend was to us; why the world is a little sadder without them.So there are blogs – not unlike this one – and Facebook tribute pages. But another wonderful way to honor your friends is through StoryCorps.StoryCorps is an organization dedicated “to providing Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives.”I first learned about StoryCorps in conjunction with the September 11 Initiative, preserving stories...