The ABC’s of Grief Recovery

The ABC’s of Grief Recovery

An October 2013 note from Joan Shirley, one victim to another

With the beginning of the school year, maybe you are thinking of your child who should have started classes or you are struggling with the fact that fall is on its way once again which means the holidays are coming. Maybe your loved one enjoyed fall with all of its crispness and changes; it is often a hard time for grieving family members. I ran across this article and felt that it might be helpful; it was for me.

Attitude: Remember that your attitude determines outcome. Even though you have suffered a great loss, try to remain as hopeful and positive as you can while you heal, recover and move forward.

Body: Take care of your body. Eat balanced nutritious meals and drink plenty of water. Get ample rest when you can and relax as often as possible in an activity you enjoy.

Commit: Be totally and ruthlessly committed to grief recovery; what is impossible and what will actually be possible lies within a person’s commitment.

Depression: This is certainly a normal response to loss. Expect it. Weather the bad days; enjoy the good ones. If your depression never lets up, consider consulting with a counselor or your family doctor. (Give us a call!)

Education: Become educated about bereavement and grief recovery. Information is both empowering and liberating. Education will become the light for your darkness. (So will coming to one of our support groups)

Faith: A death can raise profound religious questions and issues. Don’t hesitate to meet with a respected spiritual leader to discuss matters.

Grief: It is a universal experience of every human being when something is lost; acute sorrow and deep distress. Grief is not “abnormal;” it is a normal human response to loss.

Holidays: Take comfort in the fact that usually the anticipation of the holiday is worse than the day itself; it’s no sadder the day before Christmas than the day itself or the day afterward. Healing will come in its own time; be patient with yourself and your healing process. You can minimize much of the pain by planning ahead. In the meantime, have a plan of how you celebrate; where you celebrate; who will be present; and what will take place. Don’t be upset if you can’t celebrate; it’s normal for years to be sad.

Impatience: Avoid the temptation of expecting too much too fast. There is no quick fix to grief; be patient with yourself and your healing process.

Joy: In spite of loss, you can experience happiness and joy. You can express gratitude for the person you have lost. When we are thankful for whatever is given to us, no matter how difficult, no matter how uninvited it may be; (murder or attempted murder is never invited) being thankful can make us happy.

Knowledge: Gain insights from others that have lost loved ones. Read books written by grievers and learn from their experience. Join a grief support group (like the Resource Center for Victims of Violent Death in your area.) Listening and sharing with others with a similar loss, you will gain important insights for growing through grief. (Also, in the case of the Resource Center groups, you will realize that you are not alone and will find out much about the victim rights, the criminal justice system, and when appropriate, the civil justice system)

Listen: Take time to listen to your inner self. If the voice inside you is negative and bitter it will only feed depression. Listen to how you talk to yourself. Try moving from negative despairing thoughts to positive and optimistic thoughts.

Music: Listen to music. It will soothe your spirit, reduce your anxieties and calm your soul. Listen to music you love; (Maybe the type of music your murdered loved one enjoyed while they were alive or actually produced.)

Neighbor: Be a good neighbor; help someone, volunteer your time or skills. Step out of your own problems from time to time by giving attention to someone else. By helping others, you will help yourself.
Optimism: Even though you suffer a heavy burden, remain as optimistic, hopeful and encouraged as you can. Even though the loss of your loved one is permanent, your state of life, grief or understanding will change in time. When you are in agony, can’t breathe, can’t look at pictures or bear to go to the cemetery; “this too shall pass.” Life changes every day!

People: Surround yourself with special people; find those persons in whose presence you feel more energetic, more creative and more able to pursue your life goals. Stay away from people who make you feel apprehensive or who influence you to doubt yourself. Especially, stay away from people who drain you so that all of your energy is used up in trying to maintain the relationship.

Question: Ask the right questions. “Why” questions have a place in the grieving process but often deepen despair and offer no solution. Shift to questions like-what do I do now? What can I do to help myself? What people can help me? What steps shall I take to rebuild my life?

Reach: Reach out when you are hurting. Talk things out with friends, family, counselors, your spiritual leader, in a support group setting (Like the Resource Center group meetings)

Survivor: Say to yourself, “I am a survivor, others have made it through this journey of grief (and the criminal justice system) and so will I!”

Tranquillizers: Avoid alcohol, drugs, and prescription medications; they do not end grief, they only prolong it. You cannot heal by numbing the pain. (However, there are times when medications may make it easier to focus on the grief process, just be careful how you take them and how long you take them.)

Understanding: Some friends may disappoint you. There may be friends who feel unequipped to help you; they may mistakenly think you want to be alone. Be care what “bridges” you burn because honestly, there will be many times when you don’t understand you or what you are going through.

Visualize: Tap into the power of creative visualization of what you want in your life; focus on the good things whenever possible.

Wipe: Be a person who wipes the slate clean. Try to free yourself from regret and guilt based in past actions. You are a human being and humans make errors and fall short of their expectations.

X: The letter “x” is the mathematical symbol for the unknown. In spite of uncertainty, keep moving forward into uncharted and frightening waters. You can rebuild your live again and find the joy of living again.

Yes: Say “yes” to life, to your future. Affirm that life is worth living in spite of your loss.

Zeal: Expect this to return into your life again. Day by day, you are getting better. The time will come when you will once again feel the passion and fervor of living.

As with everything that you receive from me, use what helps and let the rest of it go.

Paraphrased from an article by Victor M Parachin, Tulsa, OK- National Funeral Directors Assoc. grief educator and minister Copyright 2002 National Funeral Directors Assoc. (NFDA) Also from “HopeLine” a newsletter of HOPE for the Bereaved, Inc. 2004 (addition of comments by Joan Shirley).


Marc Herrera

Teresa Reyes
Kerry Lewis

Samuel Pauly
Nick Nellos

Jacob Najera
Kevin Moomey

Ashley Martinez
Teri Benally

Sonny Jim
Shirley Pacheco

Jose Holguin
Kaitlyn Arquette

Nancy Heacock
Leann Martinez

Gary House Family
George and Elma Rigel

Gilberto Gonzales
John Cole

Julian Washington
Robert Carlstedt

Aaron Roybal
Julius Sanchez

Gino Valdez
Andrae Davis

Dawn Perez
Buckner, Robert

Danny Herrera
Eddie Guerrero

Cassandra Dichiara
Lisa Guerrero

Marie Maestas
Amy Mustain

Cudlip, Carey

If we have omitted a name or a date is incorrect, please accept our apologies and let us know.
See our April Victim to Victim mailing for names with death dates from January to June.

Seasons Of Grief

(Only a portion of her poem is written here)

© Belinda Stotler

Shall I wither and fall like an autumn leaf,
From this deep sorrow – from this painful grief? 
How can I go on or find a way to be strong? 
Will I ever again enjoy life’s sweet song?



OCTOBER 16TH – 6pm-8pm

Wednesday night group at Albuquerque office

OCTOBER 18TH – 10:00 AM Friday morning

Join Margaret Cordoba as her brother, Joseph Lucero, is remembered. There will be a memorial celebration of the life of Joseph Lucero, a Vietnam Veteran, in Rio Rancho at the Sports Complex 3501 High Resort

NOVEMBER 12TH – 1pm-3pm

Tuesday afternoon group at Albuquerque office

NOVEMBER 20TH – 6:30-8:00pm

Wednesday evening group at Albuquerque office



DECEMBER 8th – 6:45pm

The Compassionate Friends Memorial for parents who have lost children at the ABQ CENTER FOR SPIRITUAL LIVING 2801 Louisiana NE more info to come.


Resource Center for Victims of Violent Death’s second holiday remembrance event – 6-8pm at our office on Lomas NE – pot luck food will be shared.

The Atrium Building
10701 Lomas NE, Suite 115
Albuquerque, NM 87112
(just east of Eubank on Lomas)
Phone: 505-243-2222 or 855-430-2232

Daily drop in hours:

Mon – Friday Noon – 3pm
Or may call for an individual, home, or after-hours appointment

Albuquerque Monthly Victim Groups meet:

2nd Tuesdays from 1pm-3pm
3rd Wednesday from 6pm-8pm
Last Wednesday – Los Lunas *
Last Thursday – Rio Rancho **

After hours contacts:

Pat Caristo – 505-299-8712
Project Coordinator / Intake

Joan Shirley – 505-238-1663
Victim Advocate
*Los Lunas groups meet at The Wellness Center/Heritage Park – 3445 Lambros Loop, Los Lunas
**Rio Rancho groups meet at the Star Heights Community Center – 800 Polaris Blvd SE, Rio Rancho
***We can set up a conference call so you can join in if you can’t get into Albuquerque.


The Resource Center for Victims of Violent Death receives funding support from NMCVRC (2014-VA-136A)