Ways of Grieving

This activity explores various approaches to grieving. Using the experience of a politician who lost a sibling to opioid abuse, participants will consider how grief can serve as a powerful motivator to strengthen communities and prevent future overdose deaths.

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Introduction: Initial Questions (15-20 Minutes)

  1. Introduce the participants to the subject of “making sense”. Ask the audience if they have any initial thoughts, questions, or concerns about the session. Use this as a time to help provide clarity for the audience.


Engagement: One Image Summary (25-30 Minutes)

  1. Give participants a copy of the excerpt to read on their own. Allow 3-5 minutes to read and write down thoughts and ideas.
  2. After participants have finished reading the passage, ask them to draw or sketch a representation of what they thought was the central theme of the piece. Participants could also draw an image summarizing the passage or anything that resonated with them. Give the audience 10-15 minutes for this.
  3. Once participants have completed their drawings, encourage them to share with one another. Ask participants to provide feedback and to discuss the overall ideas of their drawings. Allow 5-7 minutes for this.
  4. Bring the group back together and use the following questions to help facilitate a group dialogue. Use about 10 minutes for this part of the session.
    1. Did anyone have a similar drawing to someone they shared with? If so, what was it?
    2. What did you hope to signify in your drawing? How did you come to the decision on what to draw?
    3. What ideas or themes from the passage resonated with you the most? Did this play a role in deciding what to draw?
    4. Considering all of the different renditions of the passage in this room, what do you see as the most critical issues?


Conclusion: Wrap-Up and Next Steps (15 Minutes)

  1. Announce that 15-minutes remain for the session.
  2. Summarize the main points of the discussion. What were some of the key takeaways? Were there any differences in opinions? Any controversies? Were any major points about establishing place not addressed in the conversation? 
  3. Wrap up the session by speaking about the manuscript, additional resources, etc. Exchange contact information and continue further conversations if needed.


Reading: Excerpt from “Standing Proud” by Eric Ungaro

I can only grieve for so long. For a year, that’s all I did. I called every drug dealer. I was convinced he was murdered. I played investigator for a year. I put my family in jeopardy. Here’s one thing I do want to add. My dad being mayor, I’m not saying it contributed to my brother’s situation, but it contributed to his invincibility. A lot of the guys that were on the police force back then were guys that I grew up with, that got hired under my father. So we would get a number of phone calls like, “Eric, look man. We picked Sean up down here. You gotta get... You gotta.” Now again, contributing to it, no. But it contributed to his invincibility. Like, “I'm not gonna die. No one’s gonna mess with me.” So it's just kind of a sick way to look at it, but it is something that's always been on my mind.

But now, the ladies I work with, they keep my passion going. They lost their sons. They push me to stay involved. When I speak, I know I'm an asset because people know that I’ve always been on the forefront talking about it.

And people grieve in different ways. People drink. Some people take pills. Some people get active. Some people turn to the Lord. It's almost just like how you become a non-addict. Everybody has their way of kind of coping with it. But in the end, my parents, they just shut down. They don't talk about it at all....But, again, everybody's kind of different.


These Community Conversations are funded by the Ohio Humanities Council. For further information, as well as information on rules for use, please see OpiodsOhio.org.