Posted: Friday, April 27, 2018 – 12:26 PM
When Our House Grief Support Center’s ninth annual Run for Hope 5K kicks off at 9 a.m., Sunday, April 29, longtime resident and cookbook author Laurie Burrows Grad will be a dedicated participant.
After Grad’s husband of 47 years Peter died suddenly on Aug. 1, 2015 she learned about Our House—”I didn’t know a thing about it”—and was encouraged to join a support group. “It was people of different ages and backgrounds and they enveloped me,” Grad says. She credits the group with her “restoration.” Says Grad, “We restore ourselves to some vestige of what we were; and my group was wonderful.”
She has now thrown her support behind the nonprofit—with a staff of two dozen, plus more than 450-trained volunteers, that delivers grief support services (also in Spanish) to thousands of children, teens and adults every year—and now serves on its board.
A month after her husband died, Grad wrote a blog on Huffington Post, “Demoted to Lunch.” “Everyone said, ‘I’ll take you to lunch,” says Grad. “I wanted them to take to take me to dinner and talk politics.”
The blog has led to her latest book, The Joke’s Over, You Can Come Back Now: How This Widow Plowed Through Grief and Survived. In the “journal/guidebook/love story,” Grad uses humor to address why its okay to cry, how to sleep at night, why she got a tattoo and why Alexa (Amazon’s voice-activated speaker) has become a good friend.
In the “Talking to the Bereaved 101” portion of the book, Grad discusses what not to say to a widow. “Please don’t tell me my husband is in ‘a better place’ or ‘I’m sorry you lost your husband.’ It sort of implies that you might find him or that his death is somehow your fault.”
Some of the top things to say according to Grad: “I am always a phone call or email away;” “Please let me know how I can help you.”
She’s donating a portion of book sale profits to Our House. The center’s summer Camp Erin-LA provides chances for grieving kids to share outdoor and art activities for three weekends every summer.
At her first walk in 2016, less than a year after her husband’s death, Grad decided to take part in the “In Memory Ceremony” where attendees share about the loved one who has died. “People came around and hugged me and it was cathartic,” Grad says.
The next year she brought her group and this year she’s walking “with a bunch of people with pictures of loved ones on their shirts. When you see children and teenagers walking for their parents it breaks your heart. This has become a passion for me.”
For more information on the walk visit http://www.ourhouse-grief.org/runforhope/.—Steve Simmons