Education for End-of-Life, Bereavement
and Chaplaincy Professionals
Below you'll find descriptions of several presentations that can be customized for a variety of different formats, from a 30-minute lecture to a full-day or weekend workshop.
The presentations listed here are designed for end-of-life professionals, counselors, social workers and chaplains who work with death, loss, trauma and bereavement, but may also be of interest to spiritual seekers, bereaved individuals and practitioners of energy medicine.
Interfaith Conversations with the Dying and the Bereaved
This presentation is designed for nurses, chaplains, social workers, physicians, counselors and others who work with death, grief or trauma.
As hospice professionals or family caregivers, we may at times be invited into conversations with patients or family members that addresses religious views on death and the afterlife. Meeting people "where they are" in terms of belief systems is a delicate art that requires patience, wisdom and skill. How do we offer compassionate listening and support for beliefs that may not resonate with our own? How can we honor the other person's reality fully and lovingly, without imposing our own views and biases?
In this presentation, attendees will learn to:
. Understand how chaplaincy has changed in recent decades as the world becomes more religiously pluralistic.
. Identify where patients/clients are located in the various stages of spiritual development
. Support patients who are struggling with spiritual questions about illness, and suffering and death
. Utilize specific techniques for facilitating interfaith conversations
.Discuss a diverse set of theological and cosmological constructs related to loss and grief
The Stubborn Persistence of Grief Stage Theories
Bereavement professionals who keep up with current research have wisely discarded the “five stages of grief” theory in favor of more contemporary, more functional models. But the stage theory has stubbornly persisted, despite a steady stream of criticism in academia and countless commentaries on the dangers of using it in bereavement counseling.
Public support and pockets of professional endorsement for the stages continues to exist, undeterred by the knowledge that there is very little, if any, evidence to support its usefulness. Because there is a tendency for the general public to embrace ideas popularized in mainstream media, the stage theory clings tenaciously to public acceptance.
Spiritual Self-Care for Death Care Professionals
This workshop is designed for clinicians and caregivers who work closely with death and bereavement. As clinicians, especially in situations where death is unexpected, we often have little time to regain our composure after dealing with trauma and tragic loss. We may be skilled at comforting the family, but how do we comfort and heal ourselves?
Via interactive exercises and group processes, attendees will learn self-care techniques and mystical practices for processing the grief we experience as professionals when a patient dies and the family suffers.
Bereavement and Bad Theology: A Toxic Cocktail
Q: How can God let this terrible thing happen?
A: It depends what you think God IS
In many religious traditions, God is believed to be responsive to the needs of believers, and in difficult times, believers turn to their religious beliefs for comfort, security and guidance. When God is viewed as a protective parental figure that can shield us from harm if we are pious or devoted enough, what happens to faith -- and healing -- when God fails to provide that protection? How do we help our clients cope with the cognitive dissonance they experience when their religious beliefs – whether inherited or chosen – do not match up with their lived experience?
This presentation examines the ways in which religious beliefs can be more harmful than helpful for traumatized or bereaved individuals, and explores therapeutic tools and healing practices for assisting someone in spiritual crisis.
Creative Personal Ritual as a Therapeutic Tool
for Loss, Trauma and Transition
This interactive, experiential workshop explores the ways in which we can engage in not only rituals practiced by established religions, but also variations of those rituals that push the boundaries of classical roles and traditions. We will also examine social, ethical and theological questions related to day-to-day interreligious chaplaincy work, such as:
. How rituals and ceremonies can help with acceptance of loss
. Implications for counseling and psychotherapy.
. Rituals that are inclusive for all clients and communities, whether religious or secular.
. Personal rituals for life milestones and transitions that are not traditionally recognized.
Incorporating fresh new rituals into one’s spiritual life provides actions one can take to cope with a specific problem, while also shifting one’s perception of the problem, creating a new narrative, and providing inspiration for a new vision of the future.
Read Terri’s article on ritual in
OMEGA: JOURNAL OF DEATH AND DYING