Grief Recovery Institute Educational Foundation (GRIEF) is a 501(c)(3) organization specializing in helping people with grief issues. The organization is headquartered in Sherman Oaks, California, with locations in Canada, England, and Sweden. Its mission focuses on disseminating accurate and helpful information about grief and the possibility of recovery from the impact of death, divorce, and all other significant emotional losses.
Members of the institute appear regularly on CNN and other broadcast networks to help people understand emotional responses to national and international grief events – notably, in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks in 2001; when Andrea Yates drowned her five children; and during the Ronald Reagan memorial week. They have also conducted hundreds of print and radio interviews relative to chronicling events like the death of Princess Diana and other celebrities; plane crashes; and natural disasters – tsunamis, hurricanes, and floods.
The organization donated 1500 copies of James and Friedman’s books, The Grief Recovery Handbook and When Children Grieve, to the families directly affected by the 9/11 attacks, and donated 2500 copies of When Children Grieve, to the school districts in Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana which took in thousands of children displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
The fee-based aspect of the organization trains and certifies mental and medical health professionals, funeral directors, clergy, and others in the application of the principles and actions that help grieving people. After completing the training, certificants take groups of individuals through a 12 week Outreach Program using the principles and actions of Grief Recovery that have been developed and refined by James and Friedman. More than 500,000 people have completed the Outreach Program.
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The Grief Recovery Institute was the unintended by-product of the death of John W. James. Reeling from that death, John sought help from therapists, clergy, funeral directors, and others who he thought would know how to help. He haunted book stores looking for a book that would help him deal with the emotions that were making his life unbearable. The books he found were mainly first-person laments of deaths that had affected the authors. James already knew how much pain he was in. He needed to know how to overcome the pain and regain the will to live. Friends, seeing positive changes in James, began referring others who’d had a child die to him. Although he was not trained as a counselor, he passed along the things he’d done that had helped him. At that time, James was a contractor, building passive solar homes. Eventually, people were coming to see James who were dealing with deaths of spouses, parents, and others, not just the death of children. In short order, so much of his time was spent helping others that there was no longer time for building houses.
The Grief Recovery Institute came into being after John W. James had brought himself to recover from the death of his three-day-old son in 1977. He wrote and self-published The Grief Recovery Handbook. The publication expanded James’ ability to help many people At latest count, there are more than 750,000 copies of the Handbook in print. Russell P. Friedman joined at the Grief Recovery Institute in 1987, as a volunteer and eventually become a full partner , and co-author of the revised edition of The Grief Recovery Handbook (1998), When Children Grieve and Moving On. The revised edition of the Handbook included more about losses other than death, particularly divorce.
Friedman pioneered the formation of more than 2,500 grief recovery outreach programs that are facilitated by graduates of the Grief Recovery Certification Training Program. Following the publication of When Children Grieve, Friedman and James developed the Helping Children Deal With Loss Program for adults to learn how to guide their children in dealing with death, divorce, pet loss, moving and other losses. Some of the outreach and children’s programs are fee based, but many are presented by churches, funeral homes, and other organizations as a community service.
- The Grief Recovery Handbook: 20th Anniversary Expanded Edition
The Action Program for Moving Beyond Death, Divorce, and Other Losses – including Health, Career, and Faith By John W. James, Russell Friedman Published by HarperCollins, February, 2009 ISBN 978-0-06-168607-8 208 Pages
- The Grief Recovery Handbook: The Action Program for Moving Beyond Death, Divorce, and Other Losses
By John W. James, Russell Friedman Published by HarperCollins, 1998 ISBN 0-06-095273-3, 978-0-06-095273-0 173 pages
- When Children Grieve: For Adults to Help Children Deal with Death, Divorce, Pet Loss, Moving, and Other Losses
By John W. James, Russell Friedman, Dr Leslie Matthews, Dr Leslie Landon Matthews Contributor Dr Leslie Landon Matthews Published by HarperCollins Publishers, 2002 ISBN 0-06-008429-4, 978-0-06-008429-5 256 pages
- Moving on: Dump Your Relationship Baggage and Make Room for the Love of Your Life
By Russell Friedman, John W. James Published by M. Evans & Company, 2006 ISBN 1-59077-127-3, 978-1-59077-127-3 218 pages
- "Todays" show host Matt Lauer interviews Russell Friedman
- The Myth of the Stages of Dying, Death and Grief
- John W James, founder of Grief Recovery Institute
- The Grief Recovery Index Report 2003 as summarized in Wall Street Journal