Dr. Janet McCord spoke with Dr. Gloria Horsley at the 2015 Association for Death Education and Counseling conference about the many programs at Marian University that help train professionals in grief and loss counseling. “We offer a Master of Science degree in Thanatology, it’s the study of death, dying, loss and bereavement,” she says. Technically, this field doesn’t include non-death loss, but at Marian it does. There are many organizations where bereavement services are mandated and required, but nobody ever knows who to hire.
“We created this practical degree in order to help people be trained” and be ready to step into such roles directly. It’s an innovative program that provides training for the real world. When Dr. Horsley asked if people who have experienced a loss should go into this field, Dr. McCord thinks it depends on when the loss occurred and where the person is in the grieving period. Immediately after a loss may not be the best time, because being too close to any subject can be dangerous.
Professionals in Grief
“Our content is triggering,” says Dr. McCord. This can overwhelm some students, making the feel like they can’t do this program “right now.” However, education is therapeutic. Students study, learn, want to learn more and can then help someone else. Studying it can also help you understand your own losses and master them. There’s a full online program for the master’s degree, you can take courses online or take an 18-credit certification course.
Only candidates can decide if they’re ready and capable to undertake such a degree. For many, it helped them with their own grieving process (after they had processed it), whereas for others it’s a great match for their compassionate and empathetic side.