Grief management

Songs That Mattered After 9-11-01

by Bill Brenner September 7, 2013 Coping tools

Like so many other times in my life, music made the difference between sanity and insanity. I focus a lot on the metal. But in the weeks after 9-11, I turned to a broader group of musicians to help me along. They did their jobs well, helping us all see that it was OK to go on living. Let’s start with Neal Young, whose version of John Lennon’s “Imagine” was both haunting and inspiring: Nothing…  [Read More]

9-11-01 Jumpers: A Suicidal Mystery

by Bill Brenner September 7, 2013 Depression

I remember the photo well. It was a man falling to his death in a zen-like pose that haunted me for a long, long time. It haunted us all. Mood music: Yesterday, I came across an entire documentary based on that one photo. The program, like the photo, is called “The Falling Man.” Associated Press photographer Richard Drew snapped a series of pictures of a man falling from the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 9:41:15 a.m. during 9-11-01. He was one…  [Read More]

Some People You Just Can’t Save

by Bill Brenner April 15, 2013 Grief management

I just learned that a young man from my extended family was murdered recently. I only met him once, when he was a baby in the late 1980s, and I’m told he had a troubled adulthood that led him to seedy neighborhoods and bad crowds. Mood music: [spotify:track:3a1HY1vAKItKCK2I5cgavn] When good kids fall in with the wrong crowds and go tragically astray, it’s hard on their family, especially those who offer help. That’s an obvious statement,…  [Read More]

Aaron Swartz and How to Deal With Suicide

by Bill Brenner January 14, 2013 Grief management

I read many articles this weekend about the suicide of Internet prodigy and activist Aaron Swartz. Most were about how we should view his legacy in the face of charges that he used MIT’s computers to gain illegal access to millions of scholarly papers kept by JSTOR, a subscription-only service for distributing scientific and literary journals. Mood music: [spotify:track:2UaBnTuNF4pSBHZDRhzvMy] Some call Swartz a hero who stood up for Internet freedoms. Others point out that he…  [Read More]

To the Siblings in Sandy Hook

by Bill Brenner December 18, 2012 Grief management

To the people of Newtown, Conn., particularly the surviving children of Sandy Hook Elementary School: I have no idea what it’s like to lose a child, and I pray to God I never will. But I’ve lost a sibling and know how that feels. So I’m hoping, nearly 30 years after my brother’s death, that some of what I’m about to say will be of some comfort to you. We all experience the death of…  [Read More]

An Inconvenient Death

by Bill Brenner November 28, 2012 Grief management

It happens whenever someone dies. After the initial shock passes, you start thinking about when the wake and funeral will take place, including whether it will get in the way of your work, family, or entertainment plans. We feel selfish and petty when we get this way, but it’s human nature. [spotify:track:4zbJWmA6NqIPSyNsLddZnO] Some of the youngsters in my life went through this as we prepared for the wake and funeral of Nana Ruth. There was…  [Read More]

Prayers for Those Killed During “Dark Night Rises” Premier

by Bill Brenner July 20, 2012 Grief management

I awoke to a terrible story breaking in Colorado: at least 12 people killed and 50 wounded when some sick soul opened fire on them during an early Friday morning screening of the new Batman movie at an Aurora, Colo. movie theater. News reports are coming in quickly with new details, but I wanted to take a moment and express my condolences to family and friends of the victims. I’ll pray for them, and I hope…  [Read More]

Wakes Are for the Living, You Selfish Bastard

by Bill Brenner June 19, 2012 Grief management

My post “Death Etiquette: Pay Your Respects, Even If They Hate You” got a lot of response — all of it disagreeing with me. All who commented made good points, but some details require clarification. Mood music: [spotify:track:4hlPMJPtAZuwiDvkTNcBmX] My point in that post was that if someone you love dies and someone else tells you not to attend the memorial services, they are being selfish and you need to do what you feel is right…  [Read More]

Death Etiquette: Pay Your Respects, Even If They Hate You

by Bill Brenner June 16, 2012 Grief management

Someone I know just learned that her ex’s maternal grandfather died. Though this man was like a grandfather to her, she’s getting pressure to stay away from the wake and funeral because her ex-mother-in-law doesn’t want her around. Some of you might say she should stay away, that her ex-mother-in-law’s wishes should come before other considerations. After all, it’s her father who died, and she needs all the comforting loved ones could give her. She…  [Read More]

Grief Management Put to Music

by Bill Brenner June 7, 2012 Grief management

Weeks after a loved one dies and we’ve allowed ourselves to fall apart, we have to make a choice: Stay in a fetal position, hidden from the world, or stand up and move forward. This is a little tribute to someone who made the latter choice. Mood music: [soundcloud url=”″ iframe=”true” /] I don’t know Ian Clark very well. We’re connected on Facebook, and I’m very fond of his mom’s band, The 360s (he plays…  [Read More]