Open to Hope International Day of Hope and Healing After Loss Conference 2024

Date: Monday, January 29
Time: 9:00am-2:00pm Pacific Standard Time (PST)

In need of a dose of hope? Please join Open to Hope for our International Day of Hope and Healing after Loss with experts in the field of grief and loss devoted to supporting the bereaved. Our mission is to provide an uplifting day of hope and healing to those grieving the loss of a loved one. Thanks in advance. We couldn’t do this without you!

About this event
The International Day of Hope and Healing after Loss is a free online experience brought to you by the Open to Hope Foundation with the mission of helping people find hope after loss. Our expert presenters have generously donated their time, talents, and advice to share with you.


  • Partner Loss
  • Child Loss
  • Parent Loss
  • Afterlife
  • Sibling Loss

We look forward to spending this special day with you; if you’ve lost hope, lean on ours until you find your own.
Dr. Gloria and Dr. Heidi Horsley, Founders, Open to Hope


Time Contents
9:00 – 9:05 a.m. Opening Remarks: Dr. Gloria Horsley and Dr. Heidi Horsley
Opening Song by Jill Colucci
Written by Jill Colucci & Patricia Bahia
9:05 – 9:10 a.m. Introduction: Dr. Ken Druck
9:10 – 9:30 a.m. Dr. Ken Druck – A Refresher Class in Hope
9:30 – 9:35 a.m. Introduction: Dr. Donna Schuurman
9:35 – 9:50 a.m. Dr. Donna Schuurman – The Grief Pill is Coming: What to know before you swallow it!
9:50 – 9:55 a.m. Introduction Parent Loss Panel: Meghan Riordan Jarvis, Moderator – Hope Edelman, Barri Leiner Grant, Brennan Wood, Allison Gilbert, Claire Bidwell-Smith, Ken Ross
9:55 – 10:15 a.m. Parent Loss Panel
10:15 – 10:20 a.m. Introduction: Al Johnson
10:20 – 10:35 a.m. Al Johnson – Grief, God and Gratitude
10:35 – 10:40 a.m. Introduction Partner Loss Panel: Able Keough, Moderator – Rachel Kodanaz, Michele Neff Hernandez, Jill Johnson
10:40 – 11:00 a.m. Partner Loss Panel
11:00 – 11:05 a.m. Introduction: Ron Villano
11:05 – 11:20 a.m. Ron Villano – 5 Tips on How to Embrace Change in Your Grief Journey
11:20 – 11:25 a.m. Introduction Child Loss Panel: Debbie Dullabuan, Moderator- Shari O’Loughlin, Tim Meadows, Pamela Hagen, Glen Lord
11:25 – 11:45 a.m. Child Loss Panel
11:45 – 11:50 a.m. Introduction: Denna Babul
11:50 – 12:05 p.m. Denna Babul – Big Dreams: Understanding How Trauma Can Sideline Your Dreams And What You Can Do To Start Dreaming Again
12:05 – 12:10 p.m. Music Break – Nathan Peterson
12:10 – 12:15 p.m. Introduction: Paul Dennitson
12:15 – 12:30 p.m. Breath/Movement with Paul Denniston
12:30 – 12:35 p.m. Introduction Afterlife Panel: Elizabeth Boisson, Moderator – Gary Schwartz, Ph.D., Dr. Mark Pitstick, Lenore Matthew, Ph.D., Mark Anthony
12:35 – 12:55 p.m. Afterlife Panel
12:55 – 1:00 p.m. Introduction: Colin Campbell
1:00 – 1:15 p.m. Colin Campbell – Bridging the Chasm: Finding Ways to Keep Our Community Close As We Grieve
1:15 – 1:20 p.m. Introduction Sibling Loss Panel: Zander Sprague, Moderator – Elizabeth Devita Raeburn, Cindy Tart, Dr. Chris Lourenco, Jason Wendroff, Jordan Ferber
1:20 – 1:40 p.m. Sibling Loss Panel
1:40 – 1:45 p.m. Introducion: Alan Peterson
1:45 – 2:30 p.m. Candle ceremony: Alan Peterson



All Grief Conference Speakers

Abel Keogh

Abel Keogh is a relationship coach and the expert on widower relationships. Abel is the author of six books including The Wife in the Next Life, Room for Two, and Dating a Widower. His Dating a Widower YouTube channel contains valuable advice for widowers and the women who are dating or married to them.

Alan Pedersen

Alan Pedersen is an award-winning speaker, songwriter and recording artist. His inspirational message of hope and his music have resonated deeply with those facing a loss or adversity in their lives and have made him one of the most popular, in-demand presenters in the world on finding hope after loss. Since the death of his 18-year-old daughter Ashley in 2001, Alan has traveled to more than 1,500 cities speaking and playing his original music. Alan also successfully served four years as the Executive Director of The Compassionate Friends, the largest grief organization in the world.

Allison Gilbert

Allison Gilbert is the author of numerous books, including Passed and Present: Keeping Memories of Loved Ones Alive, and she is the co-author of Listen, World!: How the Intrepid Elsie Robinson Became America’s Most-Read Woman. Listen, World! the first biography of Robinson, a single mother who survives the death of her only son and becomes the most-read woman in the country and highest-paid woman writer in the Hearst media empire. Allison proudly serves on the Advisory Board for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors and is a past Board Member for the National Alliance for Children’s Grief. A regular contributor to the New York Times and other publications, Allison launched Pub Day, a literary consultancy, to help writers best-position their grief stories for publication.

Al Johnson

Al is married to Vickie Johnson. Together they have three children two alive, Hannah (Ben) and Zachary (Katy), and one in heaven, Nicholas and one grandchild Mila.
(Nicholas died in 1989 from leukemia). Al is an Episcopal Priest who served many years as a parish priest and now serves on Bishop Sean Rowe’s staff in the Partnership
Dioceses of Northwestern Pennsylvania and Western New York. Al has spent countless hours with bereaved persons over the years and most especially with bereaved parents
exploring spirituality and grief. He also has his Doctor of Ministry Degree in Congregational Development. Al volunteers with the local Barrington Countryside Fire
Protection District and works part time at Above and Beyond Family Recovery Center in Chicago. He is author of the recent publication GRIEF SET FREE: A Memoir.

Barri Leiner Grant

Barri Leiner Grant is a grief specialist and the founder of The Memory Circle for group and 1:1 grief support. Her work has been featured in The Washington Post, Psychology Today and Maria Shriver’s Sunday Magazine among other prestigious tv outlets and podcasts. She is a former journalist who leans on writing as a healing modality. She honors her late mother Ellen, in all of her work.

Brennan Wood

Brennan Wood is the Executive Director for the Dougy Center, supporting children and families who are grieving. As a past Dougy Center participant, volunteer facilitator, and current Dougy Center parent, it is my life’s work and passion to further this critical mission. Outside of work, my time is spent with family and friends honoring my mother’s legacy of making every day a celebration.

Dr. Chris Lourenco

Chris lost his two brothers, Zach and Alex, on July 4, 2003 to electrocution. He attended his first Compassionate Friends conference in 2005 and met other siblings who understood what he was going through. Since then, he has been an active volunteer at the national level to honor his brothers.

Cindy Tart

Cindy is currently a clinical social worker and has volunteered in the grief field for more than 35 years. After the death of her brother Dennis, she knew there were other bereaved siblings whose grief was being overlooked. Cindy has worked with The Compassionate Friends and as a workshop presenter and member of the board of directors.

Claire Bidwell Smith

Claire Bidwell Smith is a therapist specializing in grief and the author of multiple books including Conscious Grieving and Anxiety: The Missing Stage of Grief. Led by her own experiences with grief and fueled by her work in hospice and private practice, Claire strives to provide support for all kinds of people experiencing all kinds of loss.

Colin Campbell

Colin Campbell is an Academy Award nominated writer and director for theater and film. He teaches theater and film at Chapman University and Cal Poly Pomona University. When his two beautiful and brilliant teenage children, Ruby and Hart, were killed by a drunk driver in 2019, Colin fell into a terrifying chasm of aching and hopelessness. He drew strength and inspiration from the mourning rituals of his wife’s Jewish traditions and learned to lean into the pain of grief. His book, Finding the Words: Working Through Profound Loss With Hope and Purpose, was published by Penguin Random House in March 2023.


Denna Babul

Denna Babul is an expert in the field of fatherlessness and specializes in helping fatherless daughters reconcile their past in order to find their life’s purpose. She is the creator of The Fatherless Daughter Movement, which focuses on empowering fatherless daughters, and is an award winning author of: The Fatherless Daughter Project: Understanding our Losses and Reclaiming our Lives. She is a sought after speaker and has appeared on many media outlets, including The Today Show, CNN and Fox News. She is a weekly contributor to NBC’s Atlanta and Company.

Debbie Dullabaun

After the death of her six-year-old son, Dale Lee Dullabaun, III, in 1998, Debbie began to work in his memory with several non-profit organizations. Along with volunteering for many years with the American Red Cross and San Fernando Valley Domestic Abuse Response Team, Debbie recently became a Court Appointed Special Advocate, representing the needs of children in the Los Angeles County child welfare system. Debbie has also been active in the Compassionate Friends grief support organization, serving as the founding chair of its Diversity Commission, and as a former member and president of TCF’s national board of directors.

Dr. Donna L. Schuurman

Dr. Schuurman has a 35-year history with Dougy Center, the first bereavement center for children in the U.S. She serves on the board of The Compassionate Friends Foundation, and is a Founding Board member of the National Alliance for Children’s Grief. She loves to ski, camp, and ride her Harley-Davidson.

Elizabeth Boisson

Elizabeth is the President & Co-Founder and Newsletter Editor of Helping Parents Heal, Inc. She has four beautiful children, two of whom are in Spirit: Chelsea, who passed when she was two days old in France, and Morgan, who transitioned at the Base Camp of Mount Everest in Tibet while on a university exchange program when he was 20 years old. She also has two beautiful daughters: Alix, 31, and Christine, 29. Elizabeth is also the Affiliate Leader of the Phoenix/Scottsdale group and a Caring Listener. She attended and taught at UNC – Chapel Hill for both undergraduate and graduate school and at the Université Paul Valéry in Montpellier, France. Elizabeth is the author (with other members of Helping Parents Heal) of Life to Afterlife – Helping Parents Heal, The Book. She is also a certified yoga instructor and teaches healing yoga.

Elizabeth Devita Raeburn

Elizabeth oversees cancer and oncology coverage. Before joining Everyday Health, she was an editor at American Health and Harper’s Bazaar, and spent a number of years freelance writing for Discover, Psychology Today, The New York Times, and others. She is the author of two books, including The Death of Cancer: After Fifty Years on the Front Lines of Medicine, a Pioneering Oncologist Reveals Why the War on Cancer is Winnable — and How We Can Get There, which she coauthored with her father, Vincent T. DeVita Jr, MD. She has a master’s degree in public health from Columbia University and a master’s in science writing from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. In her spare time, Elizabeth enjoys kayaking, yoga, and playing guitar.

Gary Schwartz

Gary Schwartz, PhD, is professor of psychology, medicine, neurology, psychiatry and surgery at the University of Arizona and director of the Laboratory for Advances in Consciousness and Health. After receiving his doctorate from Harvard University, he served as a professor of psychology and psychiatry at Yale University, director of the Yale Psychophysiology Center, and co-director of the Yale Behavioral Medicine Clinic. He has published more than 500 papers, including six in the journal Science, and has published a dozen books for the general public including The Afterlife Experiments, The G.O.D. Experiments, The Energy Healing Experiments, Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence, and Super Synchronicity.

Glen Lord

Co-creator of Walking Through Grief, a peer grief support program used in 500+ groups; co-founder of The Grief Toolbox; former president of The Compassionate Friends; CEO of Peer Support Community Partners and director at the Support After a Death by Overdose project. He is a bereaved parent, sibling, and child.

Hope Edelman

As the “mother” of motherless daughters, Hope Edelman is the author of eight nonfiction books, including the bestsellers Motherless Daughters and Motherless Mothers, and her most recent book, The AfterGrief. Her books have been published in 17 countries and 11 languages and have sold more than 1 million copies. Motherless Daughters, often considered required reading for any woman who has lost a mother, is now in its third edition and has been in print for nearly 30 years.

Hope speaks at venues and conferences all over the world and has appeared frequently on television, including Today, Good Morning America, CNN, KTLA, CBC, and Good Morning Australia.

Jason Wendroff-Rawnicki

Jason Wendroff-Rawnicki is a Somatic Grief Therapist, certified yoga educator, MA in psychology and dōTERRA Essential Oil Gold Leaders, who is passionate about facilitating transformation and committed to empowering individuals and families with simple & effective tools to naturally manage their mental, emotional and physical health.

Entrepreneur & business owner since 2000, and co-founded Shine Yoga Center in New Jersey, Jason draws on over 20 years of experience living a holistic lifestyle – incorporating yoga, meditation, essential oils, healthy eating, conscious communication & authentic relationship to help guide you to a place of greater joy & self awareness so that you can make healthier more fulfilling choices in your life. He travels nationally & internationally leading classes, workshops, retreats and educating about the benefits and powers of essential oils. 35

Jill Colucci

Jill Colucci is a multi-platinum award-winning songwriter with #1 hits including Song of the Year “No One Else On Earth” by Wynonna Judd, “I’m Gonna Be Somebody” by Travis Tritt, and “Anymore” which she co-wrote with Travis. Her songs have sold over 20 million records worldwide. Jill has entertained America as the writer and vocalist of the theme song for ABC’s America’s Funniest Home Videos for nearly three decades, as well as singing for numerous films and national commercials. Although Jill has enjoyed much commercial success, she has also experienced great loss. She refers to this period in her life as “The Lost Decade” because she lost so many of her loved ones, lost herself in the care-giving process, and then fell critically ill and almost lost her own life. During this time, her music changed, her heart was opened more fully, and her songs became the vehicle for her healing. Her new CD, “Heal My Heart”, is an expression of her triumph over loss and the manifestation of her new path in life.

Jill Johnson-Young

Jill Johnson-Young, LCSW is the CEO of Central Counseling Services in Riverside, California. She specializes in grief and loss, dementia, end of life, and recreating life after loss, and is a national and international speaker in those areas. Her career has included more than a decade with hospice as a medical social worker and as director of social workers, chaplains and grief staff. Jill has authored several books for children and adults on grief. She facilitates a monthly dementia support group in the community and an online grief chat live every Friday on FB. Jill has been widowed twice, with children, and is married to a funeral director.

Jordon Ferber

Jordon Ferber is a comedian, podcaster and public speaker. Two years into his burgeoning comedy career, Jordon ‘s brother Russell was killed in a car accident on July 6th, 2002. Since then, Jordon has become a much needed voice in the bereavement community, working with the Compassionate Friends both locally and nationally, as well as hosting the popular podcast, “Where’s The Grief?” He and his family run The Russell Ferber Foundation, which provides scholarships to the Culinary Institute of America, and produces a yearly comedy benefit show, continuing to bring people together and carry on the spirit of his brother Russell through love and laughter. In his spare time, Jordon enjoys writing short blurbs about himself in the third person.

Dr. Ken Druck

Dr. Ken Druck is an international authority on healing after loss. Awarded the Distinguished Contribution to Psychology, he is widely considered a visionary leader in the field of Grief Literacy (a term he actually coined). Dr. Ken teaches, trains, gives keynote speeches, writes best-selling books, coaches, consults, and runs grief support groups and workshops. His latest best-seller, How We Go: Self-Compassion, Courage and Gratitude on the Path Forward, has been featured by Maria Shriver, Arianna Hufington and Katie Couric.

Ken Ross

Ken Ross, son of Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, is the founder of the EKR Foundation (2006) and President (2006-2013 & 2018-Present). He also served on the board of the Elisabeth Kübler-Ross Center from 1989-2005. Ken was the principal care provider for his mother in the last 9 years of her life until her passing in 2004.

Lenore Matthew

Dr. Lenore Matthew holds a Ph.D. and Master’s in Social Work from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with expertise in trauma, grief, and intuitive awakenings, as well as research and evidence-based practice. She is also a trained evidential medium and a young widow. Her ability of mediumship opened up when her late husband unexpectedly passed in 2020. Today, Dr. Matthew blends her social work and research background with her mediumship ability, to help people hone their own intuitive abilities and develop interactive, healing relationships with their loved ones in the afterlife.

Mark Anthony

Mark Anthony, JD Psychic Explorer/Psychic Lawyer®, world renowned psychic medium, Oxford educated attorney, near-death experience researcher, paranormal expert and legal analyst appears internationally on TV and radio and headlines at conferences and expos. Mark is a featured columnist for Best Holistic Life Magazine, and co-host of The Psychic and The Doc on The Transformation Network.

Mark Anthony is the author of three bestselling books, The Afterlife Frequency, Evidence of Eternity and Never Letting Go. His latest, The Afterlife Frequency has been endorsed by the world’s top Survival of Consciousness scientists and designated by as one of the top books about faith in God.

The Afterlife Frequency and Evidence of Eternity were considered for Pulitzer Prizes. All of his books are recommended by hospices and grief counselors worldwide.

Mark Pitstick

Mark Pitstick, MA, DC, has fifty years of experience helping many people in hospitals, pastoral counseling settings, mental health centers and holistic health care clinics. When he was six years old, Mark told his parents that a beautiful sunset ‘reminds me of God.’ Dr. Pitstick has written seven books, created eleven transformative audio programs, produced a documentary, and hosted two radio shows on spiritual awareness and optimal living. He directs the SoulPhone Foundation, assists research on the SoulPhone Project, and works closely with the Helping Parents Heal organization.

Meghan Riordan Jarvis

Meghan Riordan Jarvis, MA, LCSW is an author, podcast host, two time Tedx Speaker, and psychotherapist specializing in trauma and grief and loss. After the deaths of both of her parents within two years of each other Meghan began speaking on a larger scale about the importance of supporting grievers. Founder of MRJ Consulting, Meghan and her team consult regularly with companies addressing grief in the workplace. Meghan’s podcast “Grief is My Side Hustle” and grief writing workshop “grief mates”.

Michele Neff

Michele Neff Hernandez is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Soaring Spirits International, a non-profit organization providing peer support programming for widowed people worldwide. Michele is the author of Different After You: Rediscovering Yourself after Grief or Trauma set for publication by New World Library in February of 2022.

Nathan Peterson

Nathan Peterson is a singer-songwriter, author, and speaker known for his raw, emotive music and his insights on the complexities of the human experience. During his 25-year career in the music industry, Nathan has released numerous albums, his platinum solo release ‘So Am I’ resonating worldwide.

Drawing from personal experience of profound grief, resilience, and healing, Nathan’s writing, calming voice, and deep connection with audiences support a shift to presence, connection, and rest.

Pamela Hagens

Pamela Hagens, better known as SAMUEL’S STEADY – found that the 19 & ½ summers with her eldest son, just did not seem to be enough time to walk through all the moments of love. She shares that loving Samuel- was blessing, a learning of parenting, an adventure- filled with fun, fast, breath- taking, SPECTACULAR HEART MOMENTS! Samuel’s Steady, transparently shares that life looks different, feels different, but acknowledges that she has surprisingly been invited to walk with others in beautifully intimate space. She finds comfort, strength and calm in many ways, resources and relationships. She also shares; that encouragement, support & Hope often meets the ‘missing’ when you least expect it. Samuel’s JOY for living is carried on by his father, two brothers, little niece; and a broad circle of family and friends.

Paul Denniston

Paul Denniston is the founder of Grief Yoga® and the author of Healing Through Yoga: Transform Loss into Empowerment.

The mission of Grief Yoga is to use movement, breath, and sound to release pain and suffering to connect to empowerment and love.

Grief Yoga combines many different forms of yoga to channel and release anger to allow unresolved grief a compassionate space to breathe and move. His gentle work creates a safe space of movement and healing to transform trauma and connect to the resilient loving warrior within.

Paul has taught and trained this practice to thousands of therapists, counselors, yoga teachers and health care professionals around the world.

Rachel Kodanaz

Rachel Kodanaz is a heart-minded professional helping her audiences to Embrace Life’s Challenges. Rachel has been speaking passionately to audiences of all sizes for over 20 years.

Her published books Finding Peace, One Piece at a Time: What to do with yours or a loved ones possessions best-selling Living with Loss One Day at a Time, and Grief in the Workplace have received international acclaim

Ron Villano

Ron Villano, MS, LMHC, ASAC, CCH is a leading expert in working through change. As a father who lost his 17-year old son over 25 years ago, he always speaks from the heart as his bereavement journey continues. As a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, he works with others on how to work through difficult times. He is the founder and director of Family & Personal Counseling which has five offices in the greater Long Island Area, and offers in-office and telehealth sessions throughout New York State. And as a national speaker and author of The Zing, Ron has appeared on TV and radio all over the country. His simple yet powerful message of how to Embrace the Power of Change in your personal and professional life has been heard around the world.

Shari O’Loughlin

Shari O’Loughlin is a chief executive officer for The Compassionate Friends, a national organization providing peer support to bereaved parents, siblings, and grandparents after the death of a child. She formerly served as executive director for the Children’s Grief Center of New Mexico, a statewide organization supporting bereaved children and their caregivers. Prior to these positions, Shari served in executive leadership and entrepreneurial roles for over 25 years in diverse business sectors. In 2012, Shari found her local TCF chapter in Albuquerque, NM, after the sudden death of her beloved 14-year-old son, Connor. She became involved with TCF and presented workshops at national conferences. Shari published the book, “Life from the Ashes; Finding Signs of Hope After Loss” and is a bereaved parent and a bereaved sibling from her youth. She has an MBA from The University of Chicago, is a business consultant and certified leadership coach, and is a writer and speaker on loss, grief, and growth. She has developed corporate programs for better supporting bereaved employees in the workplace and stewarding clients through grief. Shari is a proud mom to her two loving young adult children.

Tim Meadows

Tim Meadows is a retired high-tech business executive, and lives in Santa Cruz, CA. He served on the Board of Directors of The Compassionate Friends from September, 2017 to March, 2019. He is also a trustee and vice president for The Compassionate Friends Foundation. Prior to his board positions at TCF, Tim was an active board member at CharitySmith, an administrative support service for memorial funds. Tim is also the Executive Director of the Christopher Meadows Memorial EMS Education Fund, a scholarship fund created after his son, Chris, was killed in the line of duty as an EMT. The fund has awarded over 120 paramedic, EMT, and nursing scholarships since 2010.

Zander Sprague

Zander Sprague is a best-selling author, internationally acclaimed Speaker, and Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor for Sibling Loss. His mission is to help sibling survivors define their loss, choose a positive pathway, and fully participate in their lives.

He is the author of 3 books:

EPIC Begins With 1 Step Forward: Plan Achieve and Enjoy the

Making Lemonade: Choosing A Positive Pathway After Losing Your

Why Don’t They Cry?: Understanding Your Living Child’s Grief.

Zander is currently the sibling representative on the national board for the Compassionate Friends and works tirelessly to raise awareness for Sibling Survivors™

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