Victoria Noe

Award-winning Author, Speaker, Activist

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The Luxury of Grief

The Luxury of Grief
Dec 06, 2012 by Victoria Noe
“You have to get over it.”“It’s time to move on.”“They wouldn’t want you to be sad.”I’d like to call for an immediate, international ban on all of the above.Grieving your friends is hard enough. A lot of people – even those closest to you – just don’t get the depths of your sadness. While they may cut you some slack if you lost a family member, the death of a friend doesn’t usually inspire a lot of compassion.You may even agree with those pious words of “support”. You may convince yourself that you’re too busy to grieve, especially during the holidays when our busy lives get even busier.Denying yourself the time to grieve is an invitation for complications down the...

Getting Through The Holidays After Your Friend Dies

Getting Through The Holidays After Your Friend Dies
Nov 23, 2012 by Victoria Noe
I hated the holidays – Thanksgiving through Valentine’s Day – when I was single and not dating. I felt like it was the annual reminder from the universe that I was alone. Everyone had someone during the holidays except me. At least that’s what it felt like.It’s hard to lose a friend, whether they were our best friend, a co-worker, a neighbor, the girl whose locker was next to ours. The holidays are hard after you’ve lost a family member. But what about for those of us who have lost a friend?I’ve been reading articles about coping with grief during this festive time of year. Without exception, they focused on grieving a family member. Nothing wrong with that. I’ve had...

Death Café – There’s a First Time for Everything

Death Café – There’s a First Time for Everything
Oct 16, 2012 by Victoria Noe
Last Tuesday evening, I co-hosted the first Death Café in Chicago. A phenomenon that began in Switzerland and spread to London, a Death Café provides a safe, non-judgmental and non-therapeutic setting for people to come together and talk about death and grief.Our group was all men (except me, lurking on the edge). Although the seven men did talk about friends – and even animals – there happened to be an unusual situation: one man’s mother was actively dying. As befitting a supportive atmosphere, most of the conversations had to do with family dynamics and relationships. The feelings associated with grief are common, no matter the relationship to the person who died: sadness, guilt, anger, regret, gratitude. All of them were...

Friend Grief as Pinball Game

Friend Grief as Pinball Game
Sep 27, 2012 by Victoria Noe
Most people are familiar with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s famous stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. She herself acknowledged that those who are dying (the original study members) and their survivors may not follow these stages in exact order. But as time has passed since her 1969 book On Death and Dying, society has adopted these five stages as gospel. They’ve been co-opted to explain the feelings of fans after their favorite sports team is eliminated from post-season play, or a TV show is cancelled. It’s only recently that the medical community has questioned those stages.From my own experience, I’d say they’re pretty accurate. But grief – mine included - is rarely neat and linear.Baylor University’s press release...

“Passing” by Jeanne Veillette Bowerman

“Passing” by Jeanne Veillette Bowerman
Aug 09, 2012 by Victoria Noe
Jeanne Veillette BowermanJeanne Veillette Bowerman is another one of my original Stecchino’s gang, along with Karl Spragueand George Davis. She’s a fabulous screenwriter and teacher (yes, you are). If you don’t follow her blog, Ramblings of a Recovered Insecureaholic, you’re missing something. She has a lot to say, and she says it better than most of us ever will. Not long ago, Jeanne tweeted that her best friend had died suddenly. And true to form, she has written about her friendship. “It’s how I heal,” she said on Facebook, after I shared her post.There are people who come into our lives for a very specific reason. It’s as if they were angels sent on a mission, and when they’ve accomplished...

Reprise: "The Melody of Friendship"

Reprise: "The Melody of Friendship"
Jul 13, 2012 by Victoria Noe
Kathleen PoolerI thought this would be a great time to revisit memoirist Kathleen Pooler's post from early 2011 about her friend, Judy. I'm sure her experience will remind you of friends in your life: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 Birthday Reflection on Friends (Here and Not)

Jul 08, 2012 by Victoria Noe
Today is one of those birthdays. You know the ones: they end in “0”. We give them special significance, as if they mean something more than just the passing of one more year.A little over ten years ago, I sat with my friend, Delle, at the end of year awards ceremony at our daughters’ grade school. Prize Day is the way Sacred Heart Schools end each year, formally moving up to the next grade, and publicly acknowledging academic and artistic achievements. Her daughter had just finished first grade; mine had just finished second grade.I turned to her at one point and said, “I’m turning 50 next month and I don’t know what I want to do.”Her eyes got big....

Coming Attractions on Friend Grief

Coming Attractions on Friend Grief
Jun 04, 2012 by Victoria Noe
I’m in New York this week, for Book Expo America and to meet some writing deadlines that have been hanging over my head. I thought this is a good time to let you know what’s coming up in the next few months here on Friend Grief:1.      Guests. I’m quite excited that you’ll be seeing a guest blogger once a month. Men and women, their ages will vary, as will their perspectives. One was a caregiver to her friend, another is a grief professional. Yet another will offer a new take on the AIDS epidemic. All are excellent writers. What they share is the experience of grieving the death of a friend.2.      Book reviews. More than one person has pronounced my...

Types of Grievers - Part 4

Types of Grievers - Part 4
May 19, 2012 by Victoria Noe
Let's face it: everyone has an opinion, not just about other things but about our own behavior. Imagine feeling you're not allowed to grieve honestly. It happens more often than you think, in this fourth and final look at types of grievers.“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...

Friends Grieving for George Harrison

Friends Grieving for George Harrison
Feb 29, 2012 by Victoria Noe
George Harrison's birthday was a few days ago. He would've been 69 years old. I find it almost impossible to think of that gangly, 20 year old "quiet Beatle" on Ed Sullivan's Show as a senior citizen.Last fall, I wrote this about him, after watching the excellent "Living in the Material World" documentary about his life. As in "The Concert for George", his friends talk about their love for him. I highly recommend both films, whether you're a Beatlemaniac or not. Because you'll find yourself marveling at the beautiful, complicated friendships he treasured so much:A few months ago, I blogged about Paul McCartney’s concert at Wrigley Field and how his tributes to John Lennon and George Harrison were so very different: while the...

“We’re at That Age” – Well, That Sucks

“We’re at That Age” – Well, That Sucks
Feb 13, 2012 by Victoria Noe
Anytime my husband and I discuss a friend’s health issues – or sudden death – I can count on him to say, “we’re at that age”. It’s meant to explain away whatever’s happening, as if it were the only possible reason.Of course, to some extent that’s true. One of the downsides of growing older is that we lose a lot of people we love. We expect our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles to die; after all, they’re a generation older than we are.But when people our own age – not to mention those younger – die, it’s a double loss. Because when our friends die, we lose a little of ourselves, too.I’ve spent the past couple weeks dealing with loss...

Time is Not on Your Side

Time is Not on Your Side
Feb 06, 2012 by Victoria Noe
I thought I'd repost this today, as I prepare to attend the memorial service for John Northage. All evidence to the contrary, most of us live our lives as if we have unlimited time: time to do and say the things that are important. Today I'm reminded that our time here is too brief. If you have something to say to your friends, say it. You'll both be glad you did.“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...

The First Year of Friend Grief

Feb 01, 2012 by Victoria Noe
ihavethesecret.wordpress.com"525,600 minutes...how do you measure a year?" ("Seasons of Love" from Rent)In the case of Friend Grief, there are many ways to measure the past year. A year ago today, in the midst of a 21" snowstorm here in Chicago, this blog went live.I'd returned from my first Writers Digest Conference a week earlier. I knew before then that I needed a blog, but I was stalled on the details. Actually, I was obsessed with the details. So I asked Dan Blank a question during his session: how do I do this? Word Press or Blogger? Template or Custom? He said what my panicky ears needed to hear: just do it. Start writing and worry about the other stuff later....

A Death Notice on Facebook

A Death Notice on Facebook
Jan 30, 2012 by Victoria Noe
John Northage, Jr.I had something else in mind to share today. But as often happens, the universe had other plans.I logged onto my Facebook page this morning to see a post that confused me at first. It was a friend's Facebook page announcing his death. For a brief moment, I thought it must not be him. It must've been his father who died. But when I saw his son's link, announcing that John had died of a heart attack yesterday, I knew it was the worst possible news.My daughter was 6 months old when I first went to John's wife for acupuncture. We bonded quickly, over our close age and beautiful baby girls born within weeks of each other. John,...

Online Life and Death

Online Life and Death
Jan 27, 2012 by Victoria Noe
I'm going to share an interesting article about a topic I've written about recently: what happens to your online identity after you die?We've looked at Facebook memorial pages, and the new Facebook app that allows you to create a video that will be posted after you die.But Facebook isn't the only website to consider. We spend a lot of time online, not just socializing or surfing the web. We also shop and bank online. We store and share photos online. We write blogs. We set up automatic bill payments. If you're like most people - including me - you've probably not made any arrangements for those accounts after you die. But it came up a while ago when I got a...

Friend Grief and the Holidays

Friend Grief and the Holidays
Dec 26, 2011 by Victoria Noe
I wasn’t going to write about grief and the holidays. There’s a lot out there already, by people much more knowledgeable than myself. But there’s not a lot out there about dealing with friend grief during the holidays. Is it different? Is grief just…grief?The thing that complicates friend grief at this time of year is the same thing that makes the holidays - at least theoretically - great: family.We are in the midst of several holidays - Thanksgiving (in the U.S.), Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s, and Valentine’s Day - that are family/romance oriented. These holidays are defined by family gatherings and traditions.Many of us take time during these holidays to remember family members who are no longer with us. In...

Friend Grief and Guilt - “My Name is Alex”

Friend Grief and Guilt - “My Name is Alex”
Dec 14, 2011 by Victoria Noe
This blog post originally appeared last February, titled “My Name is Alex”. I think it speaks to another one of those uncomfortable emotions that can complicate grief: guilt. Sometimes there’s just no logical reason why one person lives and another dies. But that doesn’t make us feel any better. It didn’t help Alex, either.Family Ties was a successful sitcom in that ran on CBS from 1982-1989  A family led by parents who’d been hippies in the ‘60’s included one son, a conservative Republican, played by Michael J. Fox.Arguably its most famous story is “My Name is Alex” from the fifth season.  Performed live in two back-to-back episodes, the second with no commercial breaks, it opens with the Keaton parents and...

When to Remember Our Friends?

When to Remember Our Friends?
Nov 18, 2011 by Victoria Noe
 Happy birthday, Delle May 29 or November 22?January 15 or April 4?What difference does it make what day you commemorate your friend?Well, in the case of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., there’s definitely a difference.Few people know that Kennedy’s birthday is May 29. The day we forever associate with him is the day he was assassinated.The opposite is true of Dr. King: his birthday is a national holiday, but the day he was killed is not as important.My friend, Delle Chatman, died on November 7. Perhaps because my memory of that day is so clear, I tend to not forget it. Her birthday is tomorrow, November 19. I was in New York on the 7th this...

What Else I Learned about Myself from Delle Chatman

What Else I Learned about Myself from Delle Chatman
Nov 09, 2011 by Victoria Noe
When I told Delle I had an idea for a book, I was nervous. I was hoping she wouldn’t laugh, although I knew her well enough by then to know she wouldn’t. Mostly, I was nervous about saying the words, “I have an idea for a book”: a book that I would write, not a book someone else should write.I’d never written a book before, never seriously considered it. She was supportive, as I expected: “just do it,” she answered, with a wave of her hand. In her mind, there were no impediments to following through. But there were. I put the idea aside as her condition worsened and she died. A few months later, I started thinking about it...

“Old Friends Make Life’s Voyage a Pleasure Cruise”

“Old Friends Make Life’s Voyage a Pleasure Cruise”
Nov 02, 2011 by Victoria Noe
 Eric Zorn If you ever wondered why friends are so important to us - men and women alike - just read Eric Zorn’s column in today’s Chicago Tribune.It points out what I’ve tried to explain in this blog: our grief when they die is unlike other types of grief. When you read his column, you think, “Well, of course, they would mourn for each other”. And I’m sure they will. But that kind of experience - friend grief - is often dismissed as unimportant, lacking in comparison to grieving a family member.But love is love, and when someone we love dies, we mourn them. Our hearts don’t care about titles or legal relationships. All we know is that the world...