How would the world be different if grief was universally understood as a natural reaction to loss and not something that needs to be fixed or taken away? Lindsey Whissel Fenton is working to create that world through Speaking Grief, a public media initiative designed to raise grief awareness. The initiative is a multi-element project that includes a one-hour documentary, Speaking Grief, that debuts on public television on May 5th, 2020. Lindsey talks about the project’s inspiration and how months spent interviewing grieving people from across the country now influences how she sees her own grief and how she shows up for those she cares about.
Speaking Grief website & trailer.
Want to watch the full documentary? Check your local public television station listing for air dates!
In May of 2015, Jayson Greene's first child, Greta, had just turned two and was spending the day with her grandmother, Susan. While she and Susan were sitting on a bench in Manhattan, a piece of masonry fell from a building, hitting them both. Susan survived, but Greta did not. From the first days of grief, Jayson turned to writing, documenting all that was unfolding. These initial writings became his stunning memoir, Once More We Saw Stars. We talk about Greta, grief, and parenting Jayson's second child, Harrison.
Being a step-parent is complicated under the best of circumstances, but what happens when your children's other parent dies? Paige Smith was just settling into her new family with her husband and his two children that he co-parented with his ex-wife, Danielle, when they got the news that Danielle had been diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. When Danielle died and the girls moved in Paige and her husband, Paige found herself entering the new role of full-time mother, but without the support and guidance of Danielle. We talk about how Paige and her husband, together with their girls, are working to honor Danielle's memory and navigate grief individually, and as a family.
Dr. Tashel Bordere has spent years researching the grief experience of black youth affected by homicide and gun violence. While many grieving people can relate to their grief being disregarded, for black youth and youth with marginalized identities, their grief not only goes unacknowledged, but is often penalized. Their behaviors and reactions, which are normal responses to grief, are met not with support and understanding, but with negative labels and punishment. This results in a concept Dr. Bordere has identified as suffocated grief and is rooted in systems of oppression and discrimination.
Dr. Bordere, PhD, CT is a Certified Thanatologist and Assistant Professor of Human Development & Family Science at the University of Missouri. She is also a Robert Wood Johnson Forward Promise Fellow and the author of numerous research papers and publications focused on black youth affected by homicide, gun violence, and race-based trauma.
To learn more about Dr. Bordere's work:
S.H.E.D. Grief Tools (MU Extension)
Handbook of Social Justice in Loss and Grief (Harris & Bordere, 2016)
Recent Publication: Bordere, T. (2019). Suffocated grief, resilience, and survival among African American families. In M. H. Jacobsen & A. Petersen's (Eds.), Exploring grief: Towards a sociology of sorrow. New York: Routledge.
Recent Presentation: Grief, Bereavement, and Death at a Distance: Perspectives on the impact to the community (COVID-19). Presented through the Association for Death Education and Counseling.
What happens when a crisis affects everyone, including those who support others? Who is left to show up and care for those who need it the most? Grief professionals are faced with finding answers to the question, "How do we care for ourselves so we can care for others?" Megan Devine, founder of Refuge in Grief, author of It's OK That You're Not OK, and creator of Writing Your Grief online classes and communities. We delve into these questions and explore how the pandemic is affecting Megan, the people she supports, and her colleagues in the grief world.