When Grief Leads to Advocacy

When a loved one dies or someone is injured in a crash, victims and survivors often find themselves in a complex web of emotions and reactions as they learn to live with their loss.

As they experience grief due to a crash, that grief can be overwhelming and all encompassing. Over time though, people can learn to live with their grief and sometimes grow in ways they never expected or wanted.In our own human journey, we try to find our niche or purpose in life, but sometimes it finds us instead. Crime victims discover things that they were not aware of prior to their victimization and somewhere down that road they may want to take what they have learned and put it to use to help others.

Many victims and survivors want to make sure that what happened to them doesn’t happen to anyone else, or that something good comes from what happened to them – this is where a desire to advocate often comes from. Advocacy is speaking out for or about something and can take many forms.  Some victims and survivors advocate by participating in Walk Like MADD events, others work with victims and survivors to offer comfort or support, some take on legislative advocacy to try to change laws, and still others speak about their experience as a victim or survivor of a drunk or drugged driving crash.

If you or a loved one have been impacted by a crash and want to advocate, there are many opportunities to make a difference.  To get started, you can read about ways to get involved or reach out to your local MADD office.

Thank you for being a part of the solution and for making the world a better place. Please join us this week in building a Road To Hope in honor of Crime Victims' Rights Week. Simply customize a virtual brick by sharing a piece of advice, a kind gestures, or support you received that helped you take a step forward. In this small way, we honor our lost loved ones and the strength it takes for all crime victims to continue their healing journey.

My Love/Hate Relationship with Easter

By Dr. Gloria Horsley, an internationally known grief expert and author. Gloria is the founder of the Open to Hope foundation.  

Do you feel uncertain about the upcoming Easter holiday? 

If so, you are not alone.

My friend Mary said she wasn’t looking forward to Easter because it makes her both happy and sad. The holiday is a reminder of her mom, who died last year and who had always sponsored the Easter egg hunt. 

Ted, a member of our Compassionate Friends support group, commented that he looks forward to Easter, as it gives him hope he will see his deceased daughter again.  “Of course,” he said, “thinking about my daughter does make me sad.”  

Depending on your experiences and your religious persuasion, Easter can trigger different emotions in people. 

I for one am very ambivalent about Easter.

The year our son, Scott, was killed, we were visiting Washington D.C. on a family vacation and had attended the Easter egg roll on the White House lawn.  That night, Scott would die – according to the accident report at 11:59 p.m. – one minute before Easter.

It has crossed my mind that some amazing and kind first responder was sensitive enough to put on the death certificate that Scott died one minute prior to Easter. Without this intervention, we would not only have to deal with April 2nd as the death day but, also, Easter, which falls on a different date each year.

Early in the grief journey, anniversary reactions can be strong. We talk a lot about the need for self-care during major holidays such as Christmas and Thanksgiving, but not much about Easter. 

If you, like me, have uncertainty regarding Easter, below are some tips to help you get through this holiday:

Ask for help - If you are not looking forward to Easter activities, then have friends and family take your kids places and help them dye the Easter eggs.

Accept change - Don’t worry about breaking family rituals or traditions. You can pick up the Easter egg hunt another year.

Get support - Let others provide the Easter brunch or have a potluck. 

Practice self-care - Plan activities that you find supportive and give you comfort.

Renew your faith - If you see Easter as a religious holiday, then attend the church of your choice.

Be prepared – The days leading up to any holiday can be more difficult than the day itself.

Celebrate their life – For those who want to remember, Easter is a great time to plan an activity dedicated to your deceased loved one.  It can be as simple as saying their name, looking at photographs or giving a toast.  For those who want a more substantial activity, it is a great time to plant a lovely rose bush or tree in their memory.

My wish for you this Easter is that you will take care of yourself with the knowledge that love never dies. 

God Bless,

Dr. Gloria

Remember, MADD Victim Services is here to help mend your heart too!  Last year, MADD provided more than 119,280 supportive services to drunk and drugged driving victims to help them cope. Call 877.MADD.HELP to speak with a victim advocate, day or night. 

Wishing you and yours a happy and healing Easter!

Valentine’s Day: Ten Things That Help Heal Your Broken Heart

By Dr. Gloria Horsley, an internationally known grief expert and author. Gloria is the founder of the Open to Hope foundation.  

Be My Valentine! 

Do those three simple words bring a smile to your face? 

They do to mine.  As I look at those words, I think of my first loves.  I believe my very first love memory was that of my mom and me making a heart out of red construction paper and putting a ruffle around it.  

I know you may be dreading Valentine’s Day as it is about love and the heart. Perhaps it simply reminds you of what you have lost.  Your heart has been broken, and I know how it is to have a broken heart.  The question is: how do you begin to mend that heart?  

You may be sitting with that broken heart wondering if, like Humpty Dumpty, you will ever get your heart together again.  You WILL once you realize Humpty Dumpty was a cracked egg, and you are a living being with a heart that can heal.  Yes, the heart is one of the most versatile organs in the body, and it has a great capacity for healing.

This Valentine’s Day is a good time to take care of matters of the heart and start the healing process.  Ask yourself to be Your Favorite Valentine.  

Below are ten things to help you mend your broken heart:

1.    Look at yourself in the mirror and say simply, “I love you.”

2.    Wrap your arms around yourself and give your heart a big hug.

3.    Send someone a Valentine and simply say, “Thinking of you.”

4.    Create your own event and invite a friend to a Valentine’s Day tea, lunch, or dinner.

5.    Make or buy a valentine to share with someone you love.

6.    Make or buy a second valentine for yourself that reads, “From your healing heart. I truly love you. Now and Forever.”  Tape it to your mirror or even better mail it to yourself.

7.    Invite some friends in to make valentines cards.

8.    Buy yourself a red shirt, sweater, or scarf to wear.

9.    Buy yourself, partner, or friend a heart-shaped box of candy.

10.    Most of all, set the intention that you will forgive yourself: “Be Your Own Valentine.”

God Bless, Dr. Gloria

Remember, MADD Victim Services is here to help mend your heart too! 

Last year, MADD provided more than 119,280 supportive services to drunk and drugged driving victims to help them cope.

Call 877.MADD.HELP to speak with a victim advocate, day or night. 

Wishing you and yours a heart-healing Valentine’s Day!

News Years: A Six Point Assessment For Decluttering Your Grief

By Dr. Gloria Horsley, an internationally known grief expert and author. Gloria is the founder of the Open to Hope foundation.

This New Year may be a good time to declutter your grief: clean out that junk drawer of behavior and rid yourself of obstacles that might be keeping you from moving forward.  It may be a time to ask yourself, “am I doing the things that make me happy or am I supporting others in dealing with their grief?”  How we grieve is a personal as well as a community activity.  We grieve the way we live.  If prior to our loss we were a saver or a hoarder that may be the way we deal with our loss.  Some people like to keep things tidy and have the philosophy that if you are not using it give it away.  Others cherish lots of reminders like mom’s knickknacks and dad’s coin collection.  There is no right or wrong way to grieve and there is not closure to grief; it is just that sometimes we make concessions that go contrary to our desires to move forward along our healing journey.  If you are doing things that once worked, but no longer do, it may be a time to consider de-cluttering your grief.  

Below is an assessment of your readiness and/or willingness to declutter:   

1. Am I being true to my feelings?

2. Am I letting others know what my needs are?

3. Am I able to tell love ones that old behaviors are no longer working for me”?

4. Am I willing to allow myself to break outdated promises?

5. Am I willing to accept that loved ones may be angry with me?

6. Am I willing to compromise?

If you are able to answer the majority of these questions with a strong “yes” then you are on your way to a more peaceful and joyful existence, one with less stress and clutter.  You were born to be joyful and happy.  Use the New Year as an opportunity to again find meaning and purpose in your life.  Please visit us often at for more help and advice on finding hope after loss.

God Bless,
Dr. Gloria

Victims’ Rights Across the United States

All states and the federal government have passed laws that establish rights for victims.  These laws require that victims have certain information, protections and a limited role in the criminal justice process.  Laws and rights may vary by state and may have different levels of rights.  Victims’ rights may depend on the laws of the jurisdiction where the crime is investigated and prosecuted such as state, federal or tribal government or military installation.  

A victim is defined as anyone who has been directly harmed or impacted by a crime, such as drunk or drugged driving.    It’s important that victims and survivors of substance impaired driving crashes, as well as the advocates working with them be aware and knowledgeable of the rights afforded to them.  These rights are personally held by the victim that can be legally asserted during the criminal justice process.  Independent legal representation is critical to making these rights meaningful. 

Per the National Crime Victim Law Institute, victims have the right to be reasonably protected from the accused; the right to reasonable, accurate and time notice of court proceedings; not to be excluded; to be reasonably heard at any public proceeding; to confer with the attorney for the government; to full and timely restitution; to proceedings free from unrealistic delay and to be treated with fairness and with respect for their dignity and privacy.  

For more information of victims’ rights and how to advocate for them or for yourself if you have been impacted by crime such as substance impaired driving, please visit the National Crime Victim Law Institute website, For additional information about victim’s rights, please visit The National Center for Victims of Crime website,

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