‘Griefabet’ helps people cope with loss

SANTA CLARA – A part-time resident of Santa Clara has released a book about surviving loss and grief.
“Griefabet: EveryDayGrief Letters to Wrap Around Your Heart” by Karen O. Johnson, MEd., is a short but moving book about loss and grief.
“What I’ve done is taken each letter of the alphabet and identified a word that I think is big in our grief readjustment,” said Johnson. “Then I listed a validation statement, saying that it’s okay to feel like that. Then in each letter I’ve got a tip that will help you look at what you’re feeling and feel less tension about (feeling that way).”
The book has two pages for each letter of the alphabet. The left-facing page shows a creative illustration of a letter, and the right-facing page contains that letter’s word, validation statement, and advice to help the grieving reader with their feelings.
“As odd as it sounds, it’s a pretty fun book,” Johnson said. “It’s a pretty hopeful book and, I hope, a comforting book, because in our society we just don’t talk about death much. (We don’t talk about) the anticipation of it, that we are going to die, or the planning of it. But maybe more importantly, we don’t share our losses and our feelings about it.”
While Johnson hopes Griefabet can aid counseling professionals with their grieving clients, she also hopes that her book will comfort anyone who may be coping with loss. She would also like to see people offer it to loved ones as a sympathy gift.
While the death of a loved one is obviously a situation where people experience grief, Johnson believes that many other situations create loss in people’s lives.
“There’s a spectrum of loss,” Johnson said. “It can be from when you stub your toe and it hurts you all day…to moving and leaving a house you love, to a divorce, where you’re not seeing the kids anymore, to being abused, let alone experiencing the death of a loved one.”
Johnson has certainly seen all of these scenarios. She began her career as a junior high school teacher before moving on to becoming a high school guidance counselor. She served as a high school principal before moving on to other counseling-related positions. For some time, she counseled grieving high school students during the day and counseled their families at night.
Now, Johnson is retired and spends her time as a grief consultant for companies dealing with death and grief issues. She also speaks at conferences (most recently the Utah School Counselors Association conference in St. George), hosts “WEtreats” for women, and promotes “Griefabet.” She is a contributing writer for OpenToHope.com and will be featured on Lifetime Channel’s TV show “The Balancing Act.”
While Johnson is a busy woman, her greatest passion is helping those who are grieving. She has a rare understanding of grief and loss and uses her understanding and skills to help people.
One thing that Johnson would like people to know is that everyone is permanently changed after experiencing a loss.
 “We’re different,” Johnson said. “We’re not going to back to how we were before because we can’t. We change forever. That’s where I think (loss) is so difficult – because we don’t want the change. It doesn’t matter how old (a deceased loved one) was, how it happened, when it happened, who it was, or how we feel about them. It doesn’t matter if it’s a moving or a divorce or whatever. Loss changes us. That’s what I’d like us to understand. We’re changed.”
“Griefabet” by Karen O. Johnson, MEd, can be purchased at www.griefabet.com or at www.Amazon.com. To learn more about Johnson and “Griefabet,” go to www.griefabet.com or www.everydaygrief.com.

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