August 30th is National Grief Awareness Day and August 31st is International Overdose Awareness Day. Anyone who has experienced the grief that comes with the loss of a friend or family member who died and/or suffered from an overdose might wonder why there is just one day in the year that has been earmarked as special, when they live with the memories of these experiences every day. These two days are special because they are about far more than awareness.
National Grief Awareness Day was the heart driven creation of Angie Cartwright, in 2014. The reason she selected August 30th was because that was the birthday of her mother, Rhonda Sue Newsome. Rhonda died of an accidental drug overdose in 2010. That was not the first death that impacted her life. When she was just five years old, she lost her baby sister and in 1996, her husband died in a car accident, caused by a drunk driver. She had more losses as well. Angie knew what it was like to be overwhelmed by grief from her own personal experiences! She had heard all the clichés that are often offered grievers and became tired of people wondering why she had not put this all behind her with the passage of time. She decided that grief is not wrong or a sign of self-pity, and that “silent grief” is deadly. In creating this special day, her hope was that everyone would increase their awareness of how emotionaly painful and impactful grief can be. She hoped others would make a conscious effort to educate others about this subject that will eventually impact everyone! She hoped that others would take the necessary effort to see that grief education became a part of everyone’s lives. Her goal is to have the President of the United States make this an officially recognized Day of Awareness.
We, at the Grief Recovery Institute, salute Angie Cartwright for her efforts. What she is striving to accomplish, in terms of making everyone aware that grief is the normal and natural response to loss is what we have be saying for the last 40+ years. We agree with her that grievers are not broken and do not need to be fixed with simple clichés and encouragement to “feel better.” They need, instead, to be heard, as they voice their feelings about their personal emotional loss, without analysis, criticism or judgement. We, at the Grief Recovery Institute, further feel that they need to be offered an action plan to help them deal with all of the things that are unfinished for them in their relationships lost: the things they wished might have been different, better or more in that relationship and the unmet dreams and expectations for the future, which would have been far different had that loss not occurred.
International Overdose Awareness Day is likewise focused on education and awareness of the signs and dangers, not only to us as individuals, but to friends and family members of the signs and dangers of overdosing. It’s about reducing the stigma that comes with drug related deaths and making everyone aware that the tragedy of overdosing is preventable!
The Grief Recovery Institute firmly believes that these are both elements of awareness that everyone needs to carry with them, daily. Grief, no matter the cause can be overwhelming. Grief is not just about death, whether or not it is the result of an overdose. There are more than 40 life events that can bring elements of grief into our lives!
It’s wonderful to be aware of the dangers of drug and alcohol overdose and grief, but we also feel that it is important to be aware that there is hope for those who grieve these and every other loss as well. The Grief Recovery Method is a program that is designed to help. This is the only internationally available program that focuses on grief as an emotion, rather than a matter of faith or a mental issue of concern. We recognize that the vast majority of grievers are suffering from broken hearts, no matter their loss. We recognize that they are not broken, and therefore do not need to be fixed! They need to be heard, as they voice the emotional pain they are experiencing, without analysis, criticism or judgement. They need to be offered an action plan to deal with that unfinished business they have in their lost relationship. They need to have the opportunity to say “goodbye” to everything that is painful in remembering that relationship, so that that they can once again be able to find joy in their memories, and not be constantly stuck on the events that resulted in the end of it. We even offer those who are in painful ongoing relationships to better deal with that past pain, so that they can move forward with their lives and look for a better tomorrow.
We encourage you to recognize these special awareness days, but to be aware of the stories and intentions behind them every single day of the year!
If you want to take Grief Recovery Action for yourself, you will find information about our Grief Recovery Method Support Programs here. If you are interested in making a real difference for grievers, no matter their loss, please consider Certification Training in The Grief Recovery Method.
In honor of these two days of awareness, we also offer these articles with helpful information around the topic of grief:
About the Author:
Stephen Moeller has been a licensed Funeral Director since 1978. Steve established one of the first Grief Recovery Method Support Groups over thirty-five years ago. Since then, thousands of grievers have gone through his programs. Steve was the Director for Community Relations at Floral Haven Crematory, Funeral Home, and Cemetery in Broken Arrow, OK, prior to resigning to form Grief Recovery Resources, Inc. He also has served on the Tulsa County Task Force on Infant Mortality, the Tulsa Human Response Coalition, and was a member of “Ask the Experts” on Aurora Casket’s Funeral Plan. Steve is a featured grief and recovery speaker at hospitals, churches, civic clubs and many other organizations, but spends the bulk of his working time focused on Certification Trainings.