When Grief is Overwhelming

Grief can be overwhelming, leaving many of us feeling powerless. There is healing power in doing whatever we can to regain a measure of control, no matter how small that step may seem. One strategy is to set aside a few minutes each day (or maybe just a few minutes every week) to grieve and reflect. In my book, Passed and Present: Keeping Memories of Loved Ones Alive, I call this strategy Give Memories 100%….

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How New York Changed After the Worst Tragedy Too Few Remember

Thirty years ago, an arson fire at the Happy Land Social Club left 87 people dead. The effects are with us still. Before the fire was out and the smoke had lifted, Ruben Valladares was already in the emergency room with second- and third-degree burns covering half his body. The ambulance call report, handwritten at 3:47 a.m. and updated several times over the next hour, detailed the locations of this injuries.

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New York Times Bestselling Author Peggy Orenstein on Whether Grief Ever Goes Away

is out with her latest book, Boys & Sex, an analysis of young men and their views on relationships, porn, love, and consent. The book is a follow-up to her New York Times best seller Girls & Sex. And because Orenstein is still on tour promoting her book, I was thrilled she agreed to sit down with me to reveal her thoughts about a much different, equally intimate topic: the death of her mother. During…

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Rejecting the Name My Parents Chose

I was named for the main character in “Little Women.” Changing my name may be the most Jo March-like decision I could have made. Despite the byline you see on this article, the name my parents gave me was Jo. Not Josephine, just Jo. Inspired by the main character in “Little Women,” they dreamed I’d grow to become every bit as norm-bashing as Louisa May Alcott’s fictional character, Jo March….Continue Reading

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Gilding the Gutters

MONTCLAIR – JESSICA de KONINCK knew that when she put her home of nearly 21 years on the market, she would need some help. “If I ever have any free time, the last thing I’d ever want to do is spend it decorating,” Ms. de Koninck admitted. Lack of time and interest had indeed taken a toll on her house. Ms. de Koninck had never redecorated while raising her two children, now grown, and her…

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New York Times Bestselling Author Laurie Halse Anderson Reveals the Lessons Grief Teaches Us

In her memoir, Shout, New York Times bestselling author Laurie Halse Anderson turns away from her career as one of America’s most acclaimed authors of historical fiction and writes about being raped when she was 13. The experience transformed her adolescence and framed her emotional life well into adulthood. I’ve known Laurie for a while now. We both went to Georgetown University, and since we met, I’ve always been impressed by her wit and generosity. I’m…

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The BRCA Gene and Losing American Writer Elizabeth Wurtzel

Photo by Neville Elder Elizabeth Wurtzel was a fearless writer, willing to share stark details of her own clinical depression, drug use, and sex life at an age when most of us are still crafting the narrative of who we are. Even her book titles – Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America and Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women – were forthright and unflinching. Perhaps this is why I am struggling with Wurtzel’s death at the…

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Three Ways to Boost Memories of Loved Ones This Thanksgiving

Holidays can be challenging for individuals who’ve lost loved ones, but they also offer unrivaled opportunities for keeping memories of family and friends alive. Below are three of my favorite ways to honor and celebrate the special people we never want to forget. Make Memory Magnets Rather than using conventional place cards at your holiday gathering, create memory magnets featuring images of your loved ones. Encourage family members to take these sentimental favors home to…

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What You Can Do Right Now to Remember Loved Ones This Holiday Season

I know, I know. It’s only October. But with the holidays coming fast, it’s the perfect time to strategize how you’re going to honor and celebrate the family and friends you never want to forget. How? Keep reading. Halloween Stir recollections of Halloweens past and make new memories by attending unusual events. You can also give cherished heirlooms a creepy Halloween makeover. Thanksgiving Set your holiday table meaningfully and carve out time to create a special holiday playlist….

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Remembering Loved Ones Through Their Handwriting

This photo highlights such an innovative idea – using a loved one’s handwriting to decorate a kitchen wall. In this picture, a cherished recipe takes center stage. What do you think? Handwriting is such a personal and intimate tether to our loved ones. Whenever I see notes written by my mother or father I feel an extra surge of connection. Here are a few additional ideas for keeping family and friends close by harnessing the…

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