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John James, founder of The Grief Recovery Institute

John W. James

Founder of The Grief Recovery Institute®
Co-Author of The Grief Recovery
Handbook & When Children Grieve

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Russell Friedman, Executive Director of The Grief Recovery Institute

Russell Friedman

Executive Director
Co-Author of The Grief Recovery
Handbook & When Children Grieve

Featured Article

In the wake of the recent deaths of Robin Williams and Joan Rivers, this preiviously published article has good advice for all.

Today I feel compelled to write about a personal loss, that just happens to be one of the national obituaries currently featured on the home page of

Usually our articles are aimed at helping grieving people understand that their grief is the normal and natural reaction to the death of someone meaningful to them. Sometimes, our awareness of the death is very first-hand, if we were in the room when that person took his or her last breath. Sometimes, the awareness comes in a phone call from a relative or friend.

When we are somewhat removed from the immediate inner circle, our awareness often comes from an obituary in our local paper. And just today, I became aware of the death of my second cousin, Richard Ben Cramer, on

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Ask John & Russell – Guilt implies intent to harm and rarely is accurate to descibe the feelings of most grieving people. (Published 9/30/2014)


My beloved mother died suddenly nine months ago while in the hospital from an unrelated illness. I was with her almost day and night. The day she died I went home to get some rest and clean up. While I was in the shower the hospital was calling. When I got out of the shower, a message from the doctor indicated I needed to call him right away. When I did, he told me something suddenly happened and my mother had died. I rushed to the hospital to find my mother propped up like at a viewing, and no one was around to explain anything. Evidently, she had died from ruptured ulcers, a condition that we hadn’t known about. My question is how to deal with all this emotional trauma. We were best friends and very close. I was her caregiver and I did not see that ambush coming my way. She was my Mom and she trusted me. This gaping hole is killing me. You can't help but feel the guilt over the loss, the autopsy, and the guilt over what you might have been able to do. I know all that is apart of the grieving process. Help, please.

Russell Friedman Replies:

Dear Cookie,

Thanks for your note and request for guidance.

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Find Local Support

If you or someone important to you wants help with grief: Look for a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist℠ in your community. The Grief Recovery Institute ® trains and mentors Certified Grief Recovery Specialists℠ throughout the United States & Canada.

See Russell and John's blog at Psychology Today

Workshops & Training Schedule

The Grief Recovery Institute ® offers Certification Training programs for those who wish to help grievers.

  • September 2014
    Billings, MT - Sept 5-8, 2014
    Portland, OR - Sept 12-15, 2014
    Cleveland, OH - Sept 19-22, 2014
    Moncton, NB, Canada - Sept 26-29, 2014
    Los Angeles, CA - Sept 26-29, 2014
    Wilmington, DE Sept 26-29, 2014
  • October 2014
    San Diego, CA - Oct 10-13, 2014
    Albuquerque, NM - Oct 17-20, 2014
    Louisville, KY - Oct 17-20, 2014
    Regina, SK, Canada - Oct 24-27, 2014

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