Monday, May 28, 2012

Grief Happens

On this Memorial Day, May 28, 2012, it seems a fitting time to begin my GriefCorner blog and to post a poem I wrote on an earlier Memorial Day while attending ceremonies at The Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. [As the ceremony ended, our attention was directed to the bugler ...]
Taps At The Wall: A Ritual

Taps at The Wall
It tears into our hearts
And brings us into the memory.

I see men and women in various uniforms
With hands saluting the black granite tribute.
Gnarled, arthritic hands
And blotchy, wrinkled hands,
And young, sinewy hands,

Saluting the thousands who are not physically here.
But maybe, as I hear the final notes
Of that bugler’s Taps,

I feel the Thousands from The Wall . . .

Saluting back.
© J. Shep Jeffreys, 2002

From Helping Grieving People –When Tears Are Not Enough: A Handbook for Care Providers.

Copyright 2012 Photobucket Corporation. All rights reserved.

Sooner or later life taps us on the shoulder and we
find ourselves facing loss and grief or have a loved
one who is in pain from a loss. My wish is to
enable as many of us as possible to be able to turn
towards the suffering while most others are
running the other way. Grieving people need our

To ensure the highest level of service, we will introduce in a forthcoming blog the concept of the Exquisite Witness grief-care provider. Such an individual is aware of and manages his or her own grief material, has a grasp of what to expect of typical grief, and has a sense of what to say and not say.

The person who turns towards the suffering and steps up to help another who is grieving a loss (or the threat of loss) may be a health or pastoral care professional, an educator, a trained hospice or other institutional volunteer, a faith-based bereavement support person, a dedicated family or friend caregiver or even the grieving individuals themselves. Many more details of this explanation are contained in my book, Helping Grieving People –When Tears Are Not Enough. We will discuss this more fully in a future blog.

The other day I heard a man in a TV sitcom say that he was grieving the end of a relationship and his friend jumped in with, "surely you must be in the 'acceptance stage' by now." He was referring to the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross stages published in 1969 in her book, On Death and Dying.

Since 1969, new research information and scholarly writings have appeared which have added an array of explanations as to why and how we grieve loss - or the threat of loss. We will broach these later theories and explanations and how they can be useful to those helping a grieving person in a later blog.

I will also tell you how it all began for me with my first Life, Death and Transition workshop with Elisabeth in 1981; and the start of my own healing and a lifetime devoted to helping grieving people.



  1. Your tribute to the fallen is haunting and beautiful, Shep. Thank you for sharing it with all of us!
    I am so pleased to see you here in the blogosphere. You're an excellent teacher, a skilled clinician and a terrific author. You already know that your book, "Helping Grieving People - When Tears Are Not Enough" is one of my very favorites ~ and now I look forward to following your blog! Hooray for all of us!

  2. I hope you got my request for permission to put this poem in our chapter's newsletter (St. Paul, MN Chapter of The Compassionate Friends) in an upcoming edition. It is very well written and beautifully said.

  3. I regret thate I have not been active with the blog for a while but do certainly give permission to reprint "Taps" (with appropriate citation).
    Thank you so much.