Why I Work with Families

Healing comes through hard work: reflection, education, & good communication.

Posted Dec 08, 2011

It was early on a Monday in January. My flannel nightgown and plush robe weren't warming me to the idea of getting ready for school. It was still dark outside when I heard the knock at the back door. Being fifteen, it took me a minute to figure out there could be no good reason for my father's friend from work to be standing there at six thirty in the morning. His tears seemed sincere, but I remember screaming at him, telling him he was a horrible man for playing this terrible joke on me, for telling me my father was dead. The year was 1976, just days after we'd celebrated his forty-seventh birthday, and my father had died suddenly of a heart attack in New Orleans on his business trip with my mother at his side.

I was just a sophomore in high school when this unexpected event disrupted my family in unimaginable ways. To this day the painful loss continues to reverberate. Back then, I'd been naïve enough to expect that one day my grief would just disappear. I would simply pick up with my carefree life where I'd left off. Of course it didn't happen that way. The healing came as a result of hard work, lots of reflection, education, and good communication.

In the years since my father's death, I've laughed often and loved much, still I've been forever changed. Recently my brother sent me an article by Jeffrey Zaslow who coauthored the tender collection of essays by Randy Pausch called The Last Lecture. I wasn't half way through reading Families with a Missing Piece: How a Parent's Early Death Can Reverberate Decades Later when I thought, this is why I work with families, this is why I write.

Family life is complicated and sometimes even messy, though one thing is clear: positive interpersonal relationships are the single most powerful force in shaping a highly functioning family despite negative influences coming from within it or as a result of external pressure from the popular culture or forces beyond our control.

Here at Field Guide to Families I'll share all kinds of educational and inspirational stories involving people grappling with contemporary family life issues. Through blog posts, interviews, and videos, you'll learn better ways to communicate about everything from risky behavior, to coping with death and divorce, to bullying, to handling academic and work and social pressures. I'll encourage you to dig to the heart of the challenging issues facing your family right now, and once armed with new knowledge and certain attitudes, you'll be better able to influence others in positive ways, ultimately making family life happier and healthier for all.

Lynne Griffin teaches family studies at the graduate level and she's the author of the parenting guide Negotiation Generation, and the family novels Sea Escape and Life Without Summer. Her third novel The Last Resort will be published by Simon & Schuster spring 2012. You can find her online at here and at www.LynneGriffin.com, at www.Twitter.com/Lynne_Griffin and at www.Facebook.com/LynneGriffin.

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