I have a bear called Boss. Not a real bear of course, he’s a teddy bear, somewhat unusual in colour as he is black & orange. He came into my life about 7 years ago after my husband Kevin died and I wanted something to help me think of him when I went to sleep and cuddling a photo just didn’t do it for me. A family friend offered to make me a bear from one of Kevin’s favourite shirts and Boss was born. 
As I write this my feet are getting warm. Barney my Labrador likes to sleep on them while I work. I really enjoy this physical connection especially at this time of year when it’s a bit chilly. But a few years ago I would never have dreamt I would be a dog owner I was always a cat person. Tiger the tabby kitten arrived in the house when I was 4. I don’t remember life without him – we grew up together. He was a very special cat. He walked us to school – going as far as the crossing on the main road before sitting and watching us safely into the gates before going home. When I was poorly he would come and curl up quietly on the bed for company and he was my confident. I told him everything. All the secrets, hopes, dreams & hurts that I couldn’t tell Mum & Dad I whispered to his beautiful striped face. 
Back from a fascinating weekend at the National Funeral Exhibition. We went along to introduce the Grief Recovery Method to those who are at the sharp end dealing with grief and I’m pleased to say we were made very welcome. The most fascinating about the weekend actually wasn’t the stands or the people wandering around. It was the reaction of friends and family to the fact we were going. 
 
Bear in mind this is the 21st century. Also that I’ve been working with grievers for over 5 years now so this concept isn’t new. Yet for some reason there is this view of the funeral industry that seems to be stuck in the Victorian era. 
Many of us struggle to know what to say when someone has been bereaved, but at least with the card you’ve time to think about it so it’s easier right? Wrong! If you’ve ever sat with a blank card in front of you then you’ll know that actually the sight of that little white space can be quite daunting. 
 
Here’s my mini guide for How to write a sympathy card or similar. This article has now been turned into a leaflet - you can get free copies here 
 
Do 
 
Write it out on rough paper first. Even if you think you know what to say putting it down on paper first will help you realise if it looks OK written down and if it will fit in the space available. If it doesn’t fit include a note with the card as well. 
 
Read it aloud from your rough draft – sometimes what seems good in your head doesn’t work when read by another. Hearing it aloud can help you work out why not. 
 
Write from the heart. If you tell the truth about how you feel this will come across. 
I often get asked about what to say to children who have experienced loss so I thought it would be helpful to put some helpful hints and tips here passed to me by John W James and Russell Friedman. 
 
Do Go First. As the adult you’re the leader 
 
Do Tell the truth about how you feel. Telling the truth about your own grief and about how you feel will establish a tone of trust and make your child feel safe in opening up about his or her own feelings. 
It’s strange how our minds string seemingly unconnected thoughts together. I sure you’ve done it – suddenly wondered how you got to be thinking or talking about a particular topic and back tracked through a chain of thoughts to figure out where it started. 
 
This morning my trigger for this blog was a trailer for the 3D version of the Pixar film “Monsters Inc”. I already love this film. Spoiler Alert! If you haven’t seen it then you might want to stop reading here. It’s an amusing story of the Monsters that live under the bed and come out at night to scare children. In their world power is generated by capturing children’s screams. However, they eventually discover that laughter – happiness is a much more powerful energy source. 
I get asked this question quite often so I thought today would be a good idea to answer it. You see today is an anniversary. It is 6 years to the day since my much loved husband Kevin died following a short battle with skin cancer. I found The Grief Recovery Handbook in the year after he died and taking the actions detailed in the book was transformational. I think you already would have guessed I found it useful, after all here I am now running Grief Recovery UK! However did it mean I was instantly cured? No of course not. 
Is it possible to recover from grief? this blog answers the question
Last night I sat dumbfounded in front of the TV. I’m often frustrated by inaccurate portrayal of grief but the programme I saw last night seemingly wasn’t about grief, it was about bad practice at the nation’s biggest chain of funeral homes – The Co-op. 
I was with a friend last week who suddenly said to me, “ Carole you’re the best lemonade maker I know.” This caught me by surprise and I raised my eyebrows at her accordingly – after all we were sitting drinking tea on a very cold winter’s day. The last thing I’d been thinking of was lemonade. 
 
Seeing my quizzical look she explained – you know that expression “when life gives you lemons make lemonade” Well you always seem to be able to find the positive in any situation. That set me thinking. 
Yes it’s that time of year again. Christmas. Some of you reading this will be facing your first Christmas alone and wondering how on earth you’re going to cope. Others will be wondering how on earth they’re going to cope this time. 
 
Many people will noticing a person shaped hole in their heart many years after the loss. 

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