Staying in touch on the path to healing

Fran Wohlenhaus-Munday and Jack Munday
Guest Writers

We recently did the math and adjusted the note at the end of these columns, now saying we have worked with the bereaved for more than 30 years, not 25 years.

As we noted some time ago, in 1983, Fran started going to meetings of a chapter of The Compassionate Friends, a support group for parents whose child has died. Jack went to seminary, but soon became active in the same chapter with Fran.

We talked about this and both said that it has been a roller coaster ride for these three decades of telling our story, sharing our good memories, and taking on the grief of others more newly bereaved. And it hasn’t stopped. Recently Fran got a call from a women named Betty who we knew in Pennsylvania and who we first met at a Compassionate Friends chapter meeting. Fran already knew that the husband of this woman was ill, and when the son answered the phone, Fran knew he had died. His name was Jack, but we called him Jake to avoid some of the confusions of having a pair of Jacks around.

Jack and Jack/Jake had formed a publishing company in the 1980s. Jack/Jake was an amateur blacksmith and the two of them set up a forge in a small town in El Salvador and Jack/Jake taught the residents how to make nails and a lot of other things. Because of the Civil War in El Salvador, there were a lot of abandoned vehicles that provided the needed metal.

We have been separated from Betty and her Jack by 900 miles since we moved to Minnesota 12 years ago. But we stayed in touch. In this call, Betty had to tell Fran her whole story, about how her Jack’s health declined and how his life ended. There will be other calls, and we will certainly visit Betty next time we go east. And Betty will find comfort with others who she knows from her time in The Compassionate Friends.

We have one sad memory to share with you as well as the good ones. After Betty and Jack’s son died, before graduation from high school, a neighbor came over to see if Betty could help her own son tie a tie for the tuxedo he would wear to the prom. Betty came to see Fran, crying heavily. Fran helped Betty back on the path to healing.

Fran and Jack Munday have worked with the bereaved for more than 30 years, and write frequently on grief issues. E-mail: [email protected] Information about Jack’s latest book, Marlys In Heaven, can be found at