1 (855) 894-5658

May 2024

May 2024
Dear EricsHouse Community,

Welcome to May 2024! May is Mental Health Awareness Month which is dedicated to increase awareness of the importance of mental health and wellness. Grief evokes various emotions at any given moment that are unique to the individual and dynamic of their relationship with their loved one. Honor your mental health needs and feelings gently and with no judgement. These feelings are another facet of the love you hold. The work of grieving is intensive. Discovering mental health outlets and sources of comfort so you may feel supported is essential. Feelings can teach you and help guide you along your journey.

The community at EricsHouse is humbled to connect with those who know the many dimensions of grief. Although we all walk our own separate journey's through grief, we come together to companion one another. Holding space for loss and all of the love we continue to journey on and authentically mourn.

Connect With Us:
Marriages and the Loss of a Child
by Marianne Gouveia
Arguably, one of the most devastating losses for a parent is the loss of their child. No one can be prepared for such devastation and pain, and everyone is so uniquely different in their grieving processes. We know that men and women or fathers and mothers grieve very differently. Without generalizing, studies show that men tend to be “instrumental” grievers while women tend to be “intuitive” grievers, making the journey very different for each person.

Oftentimes, our relationships with our significant others suffer as we each go about trying to understand how to rebuild our lives after a loss. The months following the loss of a child can be emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausting, and can cause issues in the relationship that are also hard to understand. While most couples realize that their lives will never be the same, many couples often feel like their marriage is drifting apart, while others who have strong marriages will come together with a shared vision on how to honor the child’s memory and have open communication and willingness to keep the marriage going despite the unimaginable loss.

In working with many families, my experience has been that in most cases, if the marriage was strong before the loss, it will likely survive after the loss. Speaking from personal experience, I am not saying that it is easy, but a loss as significant as a child offers the opportunity to come together as a couple – to grieve together and to authentically mourn together.  

Here are some thoughts about working through a loss together:

  • Accept and never minimize your partner’s grief. Talk openly with each other and try not to judge. Remember that each person is on a different timeline. Practice listening and try not to “fix.” Listen with curiosity and with your heart.

  • Spend quality time together. When you are able, try to spend quality time together. Even if it is just sitting together to share your tears. It is also good to go on a date, to take a road trip, do a short vacation, meet with trusted friends, spend time in nature, do something extraordinary… and find time to laugh. We all deserve laughter and joy in our lives, and it also helps to break the patterns of our pain.

  • Become friends with other parents who have also lost a child. Knowing them and talking with them about your own pain and struggles with your relationship will help you to feel like you are not alone. 

  • Create a support system around you. Look for therapists, workshops, and support groups that have experience with child loss. These will help to develop coping skills and understanding about your journey and your partner’s journey. Look for people who can be your trusted companions who can offer emotional support. And a good therapist can also help provide you with coping tools and clinical knowledge that will help you with your emotional state, especially when you are most down.

  • Try to keep each other healthy. Look for problems with dependencies on alcohol or drugs, overeating, not eating enough, sleeping too much, not sleeping enough. All of these things are red flags. You can work together to make sure that each of you have what you need to pick up the pieces of your lives in a healthy way.  

Remember, sometimes we feel that we can never recover, but the truth is that our marriages can survive. Remember that you and your partner are committed, but sometimes a little help along with some practice will go a long way. Together you created your beautiful child, a source of joy, and together your memories of your beautiful will be an important part of your future as a couple, you will always remember your child together.

If you are ready, take a look at Tanya Larrain’s workshop for mothers on how to transform your relationship. It could be a good way to kickstart your marriage after your loss.

Happy Mother’s Day to all your Beautiful, Amazing, Strong Mama’s! 

With love,
Marianne Gouveia 
Founder & Chairman
Marriage Code Workshop with
Tanya Larrian, Relationship Coach
Welcome to the opportunity to unlock the secrets to effortless relationships! Introducing the Marriage Code Workshop, where you'll discover the essential skills every wife and mom needs to know, yet often goes without. Join a vibrant community of like-minded women, all dedicated to revitalizing their relationships and fostering lasting joy.

The Marriage Code Workshop unfolds live over Zoom four engaging sessions, held consecutively on Wednesdays, starting May 1st, from 7:30 PM to 9:00 PM Pacific Standard Time. Whether you're seeking to enhance an already thriving relationship or yearning to elevate your current status quo, this workshop is your pathway to profound transformation. It is $97 for this 4-week workshop 

Drawing from personal experience and witnessing countless women transform their unions, Marriage Code creator Tanya Larrain, can attest: relationships need not be hard work. Through this workshop, you'll uncover practical strategies that have proven effective, paving the way for the relationship of your dreams
The Challenge of Self-Forgiveness
by Greg Eckerman
Our “The Journey Onward” Men’s Group just finished our weekend retreat in Sedona.

It was powerful, moving, and exhausting. We had decided as a group to make our focus self-forgiveness. That’s a pretty tall order for a weekend, but, as I’ve observed, a pretty common challenge for survivors of loss to substance abuse or suicide. We put so much responsibility on ourselves. It can be brutal and relentless.

I knew I had a lot to learn, so I read, I meditated on it, and then I decided to tackle it one step at a time.

First, I had to understand the relationship between shame and guilt. They’re not the same, but they can be intertwined.
Shame is about who we are – how we are inadequate, unkind, weak, uncaring, or mean-spirited. We’re all pretty good at that kind of sweeping self-judgment.  

You can’t start down the path of self-forgiveness at shame, it’s systemic and overbroad. In an odd way, it’s the easy way out – what’s the point of trying to change who you fundamentally are?

So, we need to narrow our focus. Which takes us to guilt. Guilt is about things we’ve done, or failed to do; said, or failed to say. Guilt is targeted at much more specific regrets than shame.
Second, we had to select our target – one thing that we sincerely regretted in our relationship with our deceased loved one. Maybe the worst thing we believed we were responsible for, maybe the thing we believed it was possible to forgive, but only one of the many. And then, we had to narrow our focus further to a specific example of that regrettable behavior.

Third, we had to own and explore our feelings of guilt and regret. Why is that regret so deep? What, specifically, about that incident do we most regret? Why do we believe we behaved that way? It is important to authentically accept the burden of our guilt and seek to understand those feelings…not try to talk ourselves out of them.
Fourth, we express our remorse and seek to atone. We can start with apologizing to our loved one for that specific transgression. But “I’m sorry” by itself won’t cut it… yet we can’t atone to those no longer with us. So, we need to envision future opportunities to embrace similar challenges without our regrettable behaviors – a better version of ourselves. Who will receive the benefit of what we’ve learned about ourselves?

Fifth, we need a plan. Chances are the insight into those regrettable behaviors will not be sufficient by themselves to change us. How will we create the opportunity we’ve envisioned to do better?

And then we need to forgive ourselves. Not for all the myriad regrets, or for every instance in which we behaved in that oh so regrettable way. We start with forgiving ourselves for that one instance, which we now understand more deeply than we may ever have before.

It’s a small step, in the right direction.

I believe this, like dosing, is a skill we can develop through practice. We can explore our feelings of regret and guilt and extract lessons from ourselves about the most important ways we can work to become better versions of ourselves. 

And finally, we plan to create more opportunities to practice being better. Eventually, I believe we can convince even ourselves that we actually have become better… and done some good along the way.
Our Love is Alive by Jackie Cole Featuring Joette and Sydney
I recently had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with Joette who is Sydney’s mom and an EricsHouse group facilitator. Similarly to so many of the families that I have previously spoken with, I was inspired by the heartwarming story of their bond and continuing relationship. 

Joette remembers Sydney as a smiling, happy child who whose good humor, sense of fun and contagious laughter drew people toward her. 

“She was so loved by her sisters and her friends,” recalls Joette. 

Sydney’s close girlfriends considered her the protector of the group because she was fearless in standing up for what was right. “She was very generous,” remembers Joette. “Sometimes to a fault.” 

Sydney’s fashion sense reflected her outgoing personality… “She had her own unique style that featured lots of brightly colored clothes and purses…she was especially fond of pink,” says Joette.

Growing up, Sydney excelled at academics and loved participating in school athletics. As a college student, she earned a criminal justice degree and graduated with honors.

Since losing Sydney three years ago, Joette has worked hard to rediscover meaning and purpose in her life. Additionally, she has intentionally fostered a continued connection with Sydney that reflects the uniqueness of their love and friendship. 

On a daily basis, Joette cares for Sydney’s beloved pomchi, Charlie. Charlie now lives with Joette and her chihuahua, Max which has worked out well for the two little dogs who are best buddies. 

Joette shared a heartwarming story that reflects Charlie’s intuition and his ongoing devotion to Sydney…

In honor of Sydney Joette planted a pink hydrangea in her yard. In the shade of the thriving flowering bush, Charlie has found a special place to rest and nap. 

Joette celebrates Sydney’s birthday each year on August 26 with a lovingly planned party that includes participation of family and friends. She utilizes her creativity and love of decorating as she organizes these events. 

During the first party hosted to honor her daughter’s memory, Joette and her guests hand-wrote messages to Sydney. These notes were then attached to pink, helium filled balloons. The balloons were released amidst tears and smiles of Sydney’s friends and family.

The next year’s party, celebrating Sydney’s 32nd birthday, featured guests filling the sky with 32 monarch butterflies. Her friends listened to a poem then made wishes as they released the colorful butterflies into the air. 

All but one of the butterflies flew away. This particular butterfly, Joette recalls, was drawn to a vase of flowers on a table in the yard. Later that day, Joette put the butterfly in an empty vase for the night. The next morning, she released this butterfly which flew to a nearby chair to sit a while before finally flying off.

For Sydney’s most recent birthday celebration, Joette created twig wreaths. 

“I wrapped the wreaths in fresh rosemary which is an herb that signifies love and remembrance,” Joette told me. 

She also gave each friend and family member a pink stone in remembrance of Sydney.

In addition to these planned parties, Joette delights in finding small gifts left by Sydney. These include the occasional dime but more often, white feathers which Joette has collected and displayed in a glass container. 

When speaking of Sydney, Joette’s face lights up and her voice reflects her love. Our conversation reiterated to me that the ways in which we honor our loved ones are all the more personal and authentic when we listen to our hearts and use our own special gifts to create new memories.
EricsHouse coins are a tangible way to hold space for the analogy of love and loss. None of us would ever willingly reduce the pain of our grief if it meant losing any of the love behind it.

EricsHouse facilitators, Greg Eckerman and Matthew Burg plus the Men’s support group members collaborated on designing this unique coin. A special thank you to all of them!

Two inches in diameter, these coins are substantial and tactile. One side has the infinity heart, symbolizing eternal love. It includes the phrases: “The only way past the pain is through it” and “You are not alone”. The other side has a stylized representation of Melancholy, a sculpture created by Albert Gyorgy, and the phrase: “The Greater the Love, The Greater the Pain”.

We are using the EricsHouse coin as a fundraiser to help us to continue providing integrative grief care support to loss survivors. Please let us know if you would like one for yourself or someone else on their own grief journey.