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Grief Recovery Method... About Us

Why do you need Grief Recovery?

Incomplete relationships can have a lifelong negative impact on your capacity for happiness.

Purpose of Grief Recovery

The goal of Grief Recovery is to help you complete your relationship to the pain, isolation, and loneliness caused by emotional loss. The goal is to help you finally be free of emotional triggers and invisible walls which are preventing you from experiencing your full potential of happiness.

You Need To Know...

As Grievers, we are not BROKEN, therefore, we do not need to be FIXED. We also do NOT need to be ANALYZED, CRITICIZED, OR JUDGED. We need to be LISTENED TO with DIGNITY and RESPECT.

What is Grief?

1. Grief is the normal and natural reaction to loss.

2. Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of, or change, in a familiar pattern of behavior.

You may be feeling either:

1) the feeling of reaching out for someone (or something) who has ALWAYS been there and, now that you need them more than ever, they are no longer there.

or 2) the feeling of reaching out for someone (or something) who has NEVER been there for you, only to discover they are still not there (and even worse, now they may never be). 

What is Unresolved Grief?

1. Things we wish we had said or done differently, better, or more

2. Unrealized Hopes, Dreams, and Expectations we had with someone or something

3. Undelivered Communications and, therefore, Emotional Incompletion

What is Completeness?

Grief Recovery is accomplished through completeness, which is the result of having delivered those emotional communications that either were never made, or we felt were never heard, or that need to be said again, with someone hearing us say them. It allows us to say goodbye to the pain and the loss, while keeping the good memories and positive lessons.

Grief Recovery Method Institute


 Since the Grief Recovery Institute was founded in the mid 1980s, we have expanded our staff to provide training coast-to-coast, border-to-border in the United States and Canada. In addition, we have affiliates in Sweden, the United Kingdom, Australia, and most recently Mexico. 

The Institute was founded by John W. James, a man searching for healing after the death of his infant son. He was later joined by Russell Friedman, a man searching to find joy again after divorce.

The two men set out to find research based answers of how we are taught to deal with grief, what is the most effective and correct way to deal with grief, and how to help others find completion and healing in their lives, as well. 

After more than 40 years of experience and research, the Institute continues to conduct research and gather data to best help people in our ever-changing world and varying cultures.

Who is their target client?


We have all experienced change or loss at times in our lives. Interestingly, across the cultural borders, grief is the same. Therefore, the method the Institute has created works for everyone...across gender, borders, experiences, cultural and spiritual beliefs. 



John W. James founded the Grief Recovery Institute thirty years ago as a solution when he couldn’t find the resources he needed to deal with his own overwhelming grief at the death of his infant son. Since then the Institute has expanded to include sister organizations in Canada, England, Sweden, and Mexico. Our mission is to deliver grief recovery assistance to the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time.

John is internationally recognized as one of the foremost authorities on grief in the world today. Along with the Institute partner, Russell Friedman, John is the co-author of three benchmark books on the topic of recovery from loss, The Grief Recovery Handbook, When Children Grieve, and Moving On. He is a visiting faculty member at UCLA, Chapman University, the University of Southern California and has guest lectured at Kings College in London. He has delivered workshops and programs for the State of Ohio Dept. of Health, the National SIDS Foundation, and the LAPD and Sheriff’s Departments, to name a few. He is a leading advocate for veterans and has trained military personnel on bases all over the country.



On November 26, 2016, Russell passed away surrounded by his family. Russell will be greatly missed and his legacy will continue on in the work of all the people's lives he touched. 

Russell Friedman arrived at the Grief Recovery Institute in 1986 on the heels of a second divorce and a bankruptcy. After dealing with the emotions caused by those and other losses, he began a rigorous training under the guidance of the Institute founder, John W. James, eventually becoming a partner and co-author of The Grief Recovery Handbook, When Children Grieve, and Moving On. Together, Russell and John co-developed the Grief Recovery Method Support Group, which has helped more than 500,000 people all over the country and abroad.

Russell became the go-to Grief Recovery expert on CNN. He appeared on that network many times, most notably in the wake of 9/11. He has made a number of media appearances in the aftermath of national tragedies, most recently on The Today Show, in response to the death of Michael Jackson to help guide parents when children suffer loss. He was also a guest lecturer at local academic institutions and has consulted with major companies who are learning that unresolved loss has a negative impact in the work place.

Share the big news

John's son has now joined on at the Institute. Meet COLE JAMES...



Cole W. James is the son of Founder John W. James and, as of January 2017, the official Executive Director of the Institute. Cole joined the Grief Recovery Institute in 2010 after determining that he needed to shift his career from the entertainment industry to a field that focused on helping others. Having been raised by John, this was not a difficult choice.

Cole brought a strong background in communications to the Institute, working for Fox Movie Channel and the FX Network for six years prior to joining the team. As a result, he has been instrumental in the successful rebranding of the website as well as all of the marketing materials. He has used his technological ability to reorient the daily functioning of the Institute towards a more current business model, bringing it into the 21st Century and thus allowing the Grief Recovery Method to reach more people globally than ever before.

In addition, Cole travels nationally and internationally, leading workshops that train people to become Certified Grief Recovery Specialists. He co-authored the Institute’s most recent publication, The Grief Recovery Handbook for Pet Loss, a comprehensive book addressing recovery from a type of loss that has been historically ignored.

Cole lives in Bend, Oregon with his wife, Ashley, and their two sons. He enjoys camping, hiking, skiing and snowboarding when he is not busy helping improve the lives of others.