How do I begin? Every time I read a story, watch a TV interview or the Town Hall meeting or see a video about the mass murder at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School I begin to cry. I don’t even know anyone who died, was injured or lived in Parkland. Yet it affected me and countless others, triggering emotional and verbal responses. 

This tragedy parallels 9/11 in some ways: 

MURDER - CHAOS - TRAUMA - FIRST RESPONDERS - FEAR - GRIEF - PTSD - ACTION                                                                                                                                                                       

Just as men and women went off to work on that beautifully clear late summer day in New York, students and teachers left their homes on February 14 assuming they were facing a typical day at school with the added joy of it being a holiday acknowledging LOVE. 

After 9/11 people feared traveling in general, internationally, by plane, in subways, across bridges and entering tall buildings.  Now students, near and far, are experiencing fear of safety in their own schools.

And there has been action! The students who survived the traumatic day at their school are speaking out and carrying signs. Their voices are strong, their messages clear and they are gathering support from teens across the country and from prominent adults as well. 

In his February 18 article, “Is It Time, Again?”posted on LinkedIn, Stephen Gray Wallace (author, speaker, consultant) reminds us that students at Wayland High School in Massachusetts founded SADD in 1981 after two of their fellow students died as a result of impaired driving only a few days apart. That decision led to the creation of 10,000 chapters all over the country, resulting in over 60% less alcohol related teen deaths in just over 10 years.  

Will the students from Stoneman Douglas HS be able to bring about the change to end school violence? Fred Guttenberg, the bereft father of Jaime, when interviewed February 22 on “Morning Joe” shared that a week ago “my soul was shattered”, but…” because of people reaching out and stepping up my hope is restored…because of these kids my faith is restored…they are strong…they are fierce. These kids are my hope.”

May those who are grieving and have been traumatized by all past school shootings heal and have the strength and courage to effect change.  May they experience feelings of hope rather than despair. 

- Harriet


"TO HEAL".......

According to the dictionary, "to heal" means to become whole, sound. We are familiar with healing of the body, for example, from an illness or broken bone. Healing can also happen when we reconcile a conflict with another person. 

In addition, one can experience healing from grief. I do not believe the adage, "Time will heal all wounds" but rather, over time, it takes courage to face the reality as well as experience the feelings and emotions related to a death or traumatic event. Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy shared from her experiences, "The wounds remain. In time the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone." It has been similar as I heal a broken bone. 

This past weekend i experienced a 3 1/2 day "training immersion" facilitated by Michael Verde, founder of Memory Bridge. I, along with others, experienced an effective way to communicate with people with dementia.  I conversed with a woman, diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease, while looking into her eyes, touching her hand and responding to her "words" with respect, attention and caring. This empathic approach will help a person with dementia feel connected, valued and loved. That too is healing as we "feed" the basic human need for love and connectedness to others. 

I love this quote by Rachel Naomi Remen, MD, "Healing may not be so much about getting better as about letting go of everything that isn't you - all the expectations, all the beliefs, and becoming who you are."

Reach out to another human being today. Greet a stranger with "Hello", "Good morning","Thank you", pay a compliment or merely smile as you pass. You may be a catalyst for healing someone's heart. That's awesome!




Within the last few weeks I experienced a compound fracture of my right forearm from a freak bicycle accident requiring surgery. One friend broke her kneecap having slipped on a wet floor while grocery shopping. Another young friend suffered a near fatal heart attack and is healing slowly thanks to expert medical care and many angels here on earth and in heaven. A close friend is suffering from intense back pain.  And yet another longtime friend was hospitalized with Guillian Barre syndrome. 

Simultaneously the holiday season is here and it may not seem as happy, merry and joyous for those who are ill or experiencing grief. Whether you celebrate Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanza or merely appreciate the festive decorations or enjoy the culinary delights of these holidays take notice of what these holidays have in common. These holidays always occur during the darkest time of year. In fact today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of 2017.

LIGHT, whether by candle or electricity, is common to all these holidays.

May you "SEE the LIGHT" in your darkest moments. The light may be hope, gratitude, love or peace.



Having counseled many children from ages 2 1/2 to 18 individually and in age appropriate bereavement groups (5-8)(9-12)(13-18) both in hospice and private practice, I've chosen to recognize "Children's Grief Awareness Day" to be celebrated November 16. It was begun in 2008 to honor the "forgotten mourners". It's mission is to "raise awareness of the impact of death on children and teens, and to increase the understanding of what can be done to support them".

Here's what you can do:

1- Go to Facebook "Children's Grief Awareness Day" Check it out, learn and "LIKE" the site.

2- Google "Talk to Children about Terrorism" on the "National 9/11 Museum" site

3- YouTube books and videos for children's and teen grief which can be downloaded, specifically,

WHEN SOMEONE YOU KNOW DIES, a workbook I used and highly recommend for children 5-12

                               and a favorite.....

LOVE YOU FOREVER, a book given to me by a nine year old granddaughter of a hospice patient back in 1989. I have subsequently gifted copies to my adult sons and have sung the "message" to my grandchildren.

LOVE YOU FOREVER and Leo Buscaglia's THE FALL OF FREDDIE THE LEAF help children and adults look at death realistically; as part of life.     






Halloween finds its origin with the Druids, who glorified death with worship to their god, Baal and to the devil. In contemporary times, the denial of death has been more commonplace – certainly in our western society. For example, Halloween today, with its costumes and popular symbols of skeletons, ghosts and grave stones are merely distractions and a boon for economic profit. One might say the same's true of the computer games and fantasy movies, which routinely feature killing and violence. Ernest Becker, in his 1973 landmark book, Denial of Death, suggested that the idea and fear of death “stalks the human animal like nothing else.”

It has been suggested in recent research studies, that rituals resembling the Mexican holiday, “Day of the Dead” would help us balance our view and fear of death. I’m pleased to share that we are becoming more open to talking about, and acknowledging, the reality of death and its affect on the bereaved.

The hospice movement has helped with that philosophy. Check out episode 17 of the popular series “This Is Us,” where you’ll find the characters portraying dying and grieving for friends and family as part of the human experience. It reminds me of the highly successful HBO series “Six Feet Under,” which aired in 2001 and ended in August 2005 after 63 episodes filled with visual images, honest communication and black humor.

How will you celebrate HALLOWEEN today? Will you TRICK yourself into denying death – utilizing silence and distractions, as coping mechanisms? Or, will you TREAT yourself, by acknowledging the reality of death and thereby living every day to its fullest?

– Harriet 


While writing her book, LIVING BETTER, Eda Leshan met an oceanographer who had asked her if she knew how a lobster was able to grow with its hard shell. He explained that the lobster had to look for a safe place periodically to rest while it shed its shell and wait for a new one to form and grow. During this process the lobster is vulnerable to currents and predators. In essence the lobster risks its life in order to grow.

Humans are vulnerable too for all kinds of reasons, especially when we are stressed or bored. But we have the choice to continue our life as is (stay "safe" and "stuffed" in our old shells) or have the courage to become vulnerable as we take risks in embracing new experiences and challenges.

The recent solar eclipse and the coming Jewish New Year 5778 create opportune times for each of us to shed our old hard and smothering shells and ready ourselves for personal change and growth. I wish you the courage to do so.

See and hear Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski on YouTube teaching "HOW DO LOBSTERS GROW?"

– Harriet



As the world views the devastation and aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Houston and surrounding coastal cities, there are thousands who are reliving the memory of Hurricane Katrina  in late August 2005. Thousands fled New Orleans 12 years ago to settle in Houston, Texas and they are reliving that event and their emotions. A quote in today's Wall Street Journal reads, "It's like losing your mind over again."

Yesterday I commemorated the 12th anniversary of the death of my husband, Jerry. I too have memory - naturally some sad - fortunately many "glad". 

We all have our memories; some clear and sharp and some faded and "far away". Sometimes memory is merely an impression of what really occurred. 

I hope and pray that all those affected by Hurricane Harvey will come through their traumatic experiences and be able to live the lyrics to "Memory" from the Broadway musical "Cats". 

"I must wait for the sunrise - I must think of a new life - And I mustn't give in - When the dawn comes - Tonight will be a memory too - And a new day will begin"



Happiness & Hope Over Sadness & Despair

To celebrate the birth of their son, an Israeli couple Schmuel and Chen Salomon, invited family and friends to their home the next night, a Friday. Disguised as a Sabbath-observant Jew, a Palestine terrorist entered their home and murdered three family members; Schmuel’s father Yosef, his sister, Chaya, and his brother, Elad. Still dressed in mourning clothes, holding his son at the baby’s circumcision ceremony (brit) the father uttered these words, “Our son made the choice of life for us. He was given to us as a present the day before our lives were destroyed.” We want to “be remembered as a happy united family… not one with a torn heart”. “We have chosen life, especially in these terrible days. We are choosing HAPPINESS and HOPE over SADNESS and DESPAIR. We have chosen UNITY over DIVISIVENESS.”  

When grieving and feeling the pain of our loss, while we have no control over our emotions, we do have control over our attitude. We can always choose gratitude and hope for healing. 

– Harriet


This quote, printed on a wall hanging, had been a guiding force for my husband, Jerry and me as we raised our children. It hung on the wall adjacent to our three sons’ bedrooms. Now it hangs on my “family photo gallery wall” in my Florida home. 

It’s message has taken on a new meaning for me as of late. When we let go of our children; that is whether for their first sleepover, their first time riding a two wheel bicycle without our hands tightly gripping the seat, their first trip to sleep away camp or to grandparents in another state, the first time borrowing our car, dropping them off at college or walking them down the wedding aisle, we experience grief. Grief is the response to any change in our life and with it comes all the emotional responses: sadness, fear, pride, love, anxiety and loneliness. Are you willing to face and embrace those feelings? Remember, grief is normal, universal and healthy.

Hopefully, you will have the courage to experience your grief rather than push it away. That is the same for all other changes in your life (not just for the death of a loved one). 

By acknowledging and sharing the feelings associated with your grief, as a parent you will model for your children the meaning of the title of my book, SAD IS NOT BAD - IT’S HOW WE GRIEVE AFTER WE’VE LOVED.

– Harriet


As you prepare for Memorial Day this year what are you planning to do? Attend a parade? Have a picnic or barbecue? Take a boat ride? Celebrate the official start of summer with your own ritual?Fly the American flag? While these are all traditional and fun ways it is important to REMEMBER the original reason for this day of REMEMBRANCE is to remember our heroes; those who died to protect our freedom. Take  the time to REMEMBER in your own way.

According to Yair Lapid, "The problem with the dead is that they are impolite. They constantly show up to visit us, unannounced, uninvited...the dead do not need a remembrance day - they appear when they like anyway; we're the ones that need a remembrance day, so that one day a year we know how to welcome them.

– Harriet


Passover and Easter share foods, symbolism and life lessons at this time of year. 

May you be freed from whatever enslaves you; physically, emotionally or spiritually.  

May you find new ways to look at what challenges you. 

May you find an inner strength to overcome your struggles.

May you enjoy the warmth and beauty of Spring.



The cover story of the March 2017 issue of the AARP Bulletin reads: "LIVE LONGER!  50 Proven Ways To Add Years To Your Life". Is that any different a message from the ads selling us some new form of exercise or equipment or vitamins and supplements? As our population ages I believe the more important message is becoming "How To Add More Life To Our Years".

I recently read excerpts from a final project composed by college students who had taken a course called "Aging and Long Term Care".

One student first quoted Eleanor Roosevelt: "Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art."

And in the student's own words, "Dream big and do what you love and never stop no matter what others tell you. Find a favorite activity that makes you happy. Reading, music, games with friends and loved ones always helps you to remain happy and lively no matter what age you are. Life is beautiful - enjoy every moment of it. And keep smiling because there is so much to smile about."

Another student wrote, "Your life does not become less meaningful as you age. You have the power to give your life meaning no matter how old you are. Your physical body changes, but your mind and spirit can remain as youthful as you want. You can still create, love and learn. These elements of life are possible and significant at all ages."

With gratitude for my health and loving relationships and a strong desire to keep growing I offer this log in honor of my birthday. 




There are many ways to express love. Through his movies and stand up comedy routines Robin Williams was able to share his love, talent and passion with millions of people. On this Valentine's Day I encourage you to view his most inspiring speech on YouTube. It is called "MAKE YOUR LFE SPECTACULAR".

-harriet vogel


  • MORE GOOD...     

Sending and receiving holiday cards is a wonderful custom. Some are store bought cards. Some are catch up letters sharing activities through the year. Some have photos; of family, of children, of pets, or of vacations. Some are signed. Some have the names imprinted.

When I opened and read this card created by my friend Nina Frankel, I just knew it had to be shared. With her permission I am sharing this message with you in my January blog as it’s so simply stated. I would like to add... 


NOW IT’S YOUR TURN TO CREATE A WISH…………………………………………..FOR 2017

– Harriet




“Tis the season” for making lists, buying presents, baking cookies, mailing cards, choosing the perfect tree, hanging the ornaments, donating to charities, shopping in the crowded malls, shopping online, entertaining, visiting, and becoming stressed, not to mention being triggered by remembering those friends and family who have died in recent or past years.

That doesn’t sound very peaceful, does it? Perhaps you will take a moment to read JUST FOR TODAY

JUST FOR TODAY I will live through this day only. I will not brood about yesterday or obsess about tomorrow. I will not set far reaching goals or try to overcome all my problems at once. JUST FOR TODAY I will be happy. I will not dwell on thoughts that depress me. If my mind fills with clouds, I will chase them away and fill it with sunshine.

JUST FOR TODAY, I will accept what is; I will face reality. I will correct those things I can correct and accept those I cannot.

JUST FOR TODAY I will make a conscious effort to be agreeable. I will be kind and courteous to those who cross my path. I will speak softly and not speak ill of others.

JUST FOR TODAY I’ll refrain from improving anybody except myself.

Starting your day with this reading, or meditating quietly can help you find peace and joy. 


How many things do you think you can control in your life: The weather? Your health? Other people? The economy? Election results??? Sometimes we fool ourselves in thinking we do have control. 


We definitely cannot control our emotions (our feelings). Oh yes, we can suppress them but they remain inside. Often normal feelings of grief, be it anger or guilt, when not processed and released may result in time with expressions of rage and/or depression. So again, I ask, what can you control?


We have control over our words, our actions, our beliefs and our attitude. 


During this month of November as people are gearing up for Thanksgiving Day, I want to focus on the attitude of GRATITUDE. What are you grateful for? Who are you grateful for? When are you grateful?  How do you express your gratitude?


“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday experiences, those transcendent moments of awe that changes forever how we experience life and the world.” 

John Milton


“Gratitude is one of the most medicinal emotions we can feel. It elevates our moods and fills us with joy.”

Sara Avant Stover in The Ways of the Happy Woman 


We have the power (control) to express our feelings of gratitude every day of the year, not just on Thanksgiving Day.






October 12 will be the 38th anniversary of my mother in law, Jessie’s death. While I remember her illness, her dying and her death, I choose to remember her life.


I remember her. I remember her sweet smile.  I remember how she loved me. I remember her love for family and friends. I remember her charitable works. I remember how well she cooked and baked especially for our annual family Thanksgiving dinner. I remember her talent with various mediums of needlecraft. 


And I will remember her by lighting a memorial candle. I will make a donation in her memory. And her name will be read from the pulpit of our synagogues.


As humans we have the gift of memory. With the anticipation of Hurricane Matthew I saw and heard clips both on TV and among friends of memories of past hurricanes especially those that affected Florida, such as Andrew in 1992 and Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne in 2004. In 2005 we had Wilma, the most intense hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic. No one will forget the devastation of Katrina, or Super Storm Sandy that left people homeless and helpless. Not only will people remember the pain but they hopefully will remember the miracles of lives saved and homes rebuilt.


So too, memories of loved ones who have died may trigger emotions on a scale from mild to intense grief. However, while we do not have control over our feelings we have control of what we want to remember.


What will you choose to remember?






I just commemorated the 11th year anniversary of my husband Jerry’s death. In some ways the time elapsed seems like forever and yet the memory is as fresh as if it were yesterday.

As many of you know by having read my book, Sad Is Not Bad, my healing was helped because I shared my sorrow. I shared by talking to friends and family. I shared by writing letters to Jerry for two years after he died. From those letters I created my memoir, Sad Is Not Bad - It’s How We Grieve After We’ve Loved, sharing once again my experiences, feelings, thoughts, memories, hopes and dreams with all who would eventually read my book. I have been validated for sharing the intimacy of my love, grief and healing with not only family and friends but strangers alike. I continue to share as I recall Jerry’s name and his life. I continue to share as I talk about my book with individuals and during organized talks. As I share, I continue to heal (become whole again).

I’m proud to announce the audio book version of SAD IS NOT BAD, available on Audible for those who may not be able to read print because of diminished eyesight as well for those who simply prefer listening to books.

September 11, 2001......that was 15 years ago; seems like a lifetime ago and yet a clear, conscious memory etched into our minds...

Share a memory of that tragic day with someone.
Share the name of someone you knew who was murdered that day.
Share with someone you know whose loved one died on September 11, 2001.

I will leave you with this quote from the book, A MAN CALLED OVE by Fredrik Backman...
“...but sorrow is unreliable in that way. When people don’t share it, there’s a good chance that it

will drive them apart instead.”




Life is a challenge............................... meet it. 

Life is a gift........................................ accept it.

Life is an adventure............................. dare it.

Life is a sorrow........................... overcome it.

Life is a tragedy..................................... face it.

Life is a duty.................................... perform it.

Life is a game......................................... play it.

Life is mystery ................................... unfold it.

Life is a song........................................... sing it.

Life is an opportunity........................... take it.

Life is a journey............................ complete it.

Life is a promise................................... fulfill it.

Life is a struggle................................... fight it.

Life is a goal..................................... achieve it.

Life is a puzzle..................................... solve it.


– Harriet




Never Shall I Forget


Never shall I forget that night,

the first night in the camp

which has turned my life into one long night,

seven times cursed and seven times sealed.


Never shall i forget that smoke.

Never shall I forget the little faces of the children

whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke

beneath a silent blue sky.


Never shall I forget those flames

which consumed my faith forever.

Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence

which deprived me for all eternity of the desire to live.


Never shall I forget those moments

which murdered my God and my soul

and turned my dreams to dust.


Never shall I forget these things,

even if I am condemned to live

as long as God Himself.




         -Eli Wiesel