At the annual ADEC (Association of Death Education and Counseling), I spoke with Brittany Trauthwein about continuing bonds after loss.

Brittany is a doctorate student at the Chicago Professional School of Psychology who is writing a dissertation about continuing bonds after the death of a parent.

In the video below, Brittany discusses how she got into this topic and why it was so important for her to write about it as her dissertation.

Here are some key takeaways from the video:

  • During the first year of her schooling, Brittany lost her father. That was when people started telling her stories about continuing bonds and how the theory worked.
  • She immediately loved it and knew that it was the way she was going to go through her grief journey.
  • Brittany then became interested in how other people were going through grief by continuing bonds. When she started doing the research on it, she couldn’t find any information about anyone between the ages of 18 and 30 years old. As a result, Brittany chose to focus her study specifically on that age group.
  • Continuing bonds is the idea that you want to find a way to keep the parent in your life, in a meaningful relationship, while still being able to move ahead with your life. You’re just finding a new place for that parent in your life.
  • Brittany keeps her dad in her life in many ways. For example, on her dad’s birthday she will eat her dad’s favorite foods and celebrate his life. She will also talk to him on a daily basis and tell him what’s going on in her life because she feels like her dad can still hear her.
  • Brittany feels that it’s reciprocal, because she has dreams about her father which she feels is her father visiting her.

For more video interviews, please see the Open To Hope YouTube channel.

We also spoke with Jane Greer about continuing bonds with deceased loved ones.

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Heidi Horsley

Dr. Heidi Horsley is an international grief expert, licensed psychologist, and social worker. She is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Open to Hope Foundation, one of the largest internet grief resources, with over 2 million yearly visitors. She hosts the award-winning Open to Hope cable television show and podcast. Dr. Heidi is an adjunct professor at Columbia University. She serves on the ‚ÄčNational Board of Directors for The Compassionate Friends, the largest peer to peer support organization in the world. She also serves on the National Advisory Board for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). TAPS has served over 50,000 military families who have suffered a loss. In addition, she serves on the National Advisory Board for the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation, and the Children's Brain Tumor Foundation. Dr. Heidi is on the VIP section of Marquis Who's Who in America, Madison Who's Who, and Who's Who of American Women. Dr. Heidi has co-authored eight books, including; Spouse Loss; Fresh Grief; Inspirational Stories for Handling the Holidays After Loss; Inspirational Stories of Healing After Loss; Real Men Do Cry; A Quarterbacks Inspiring Story of Tackling Depression & Surviving Suicide; Teen Grief Relief: Parenting with Understanding Support and Guidance; and Signs and Hope From Heaven. She has appeared on the ABC television show 20/20, has been interviewed by numerous media outlets, and has been a guest on hundreds of radio shows as well as quoted in dozens of media publications, including the Metro World News, Washington Post, Time Magazine, Newsday, Money Magazine, and New York Daily News. Dr. Heidi is also the author of numerous articles and academic book chapters. Dr. Heidi gives keynotes, presentations, and workshops throughout the country, and teaches continuing education workshops for health care professionals on support following trauma and tragedy. For 10 yrs., Dr. Heidi worked as a co-investigator for the FDNY-Columbia University Family Guidance Program; a study which looked at traumatic loss in families of firefighters killed in the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks. Through this 9/11 study, Dr. Heidi provided ongoing intervention and follow-up to firefighter widows and their children, and facilitated groups for bereaved siblings. In addition, Dr. Heidi supervised the school social work staff at Harlem Democracy Charter Schools in NYC for four years. Dr. Heidi's early career included work in a variety of clinical settings, including; Manhattan Psychiatric Center, California Pacific Medical Center Psychiatry Dept., University of San Francisco Mental Health Clinic, St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital Psychiatry Dept., and Hope Haven Residential Treatment Center in New Orleans. Her doctoral dissertation was on the sudden death of a sibling. Her academic credentials include a doctorate in Psychology (PsyD) from the University of San Francisco; a Masters degree in social work (LMSW) from Columbia University, and a Masters degree in mental health counseling (MS) from Loyola University, in New Orleans. Dr. Heidi splits her time between NYC and Tucson AZ.

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