Alive Volunteer Shares His Culture and Grief Story

Alive volunteer Howard Ezell pictured with his mother Michiko Nosho Ezell.

Alive volunteer photographer Howard Ezell became connected to Alive the summer of 2007 after his father died of a tragic accident. Read on for his unique experience with Alive’s Grief Services and how his path through grief helped his mother through hers.

My connection to Alive goes back to the months after the death of my father in 2007. My friend found out about their support groups here for me, and I began coming shortly after. It was a tragic loss. It changed my life. My grief group at Alive became a lifeline for me in getting to share my story and being able to come week after week to listen to the stories of others experiencing similar things.

In my family, growing up half-white, half-Japanese, I did not know what was customary in Japanese culture when it came to grief. My mother, who was Japanese, handled the grief more internally, but she saw positive changes in me, and she asked if Alive had a grief group for spouses. There was, and my mother began going. She never discussed it with me, but I know it helped her and that she got a lot of comfort in listening and sharing with her group. After my mother passed away, I found a little jar where she kept notes of things to be grateful for, and her grief support group was one of them.

In remembering my mom and my dad, I’ve integrated some customs from Japanese culture with some customs that I’ve learned through Alive’s Day of the Dead event. In Japan, a lot of families will have a table of mementos like pictures, candles, and other items to remember their loved one. Here are a few items that I keep to remember my mom: