At the annual ADEC (Association of Death Education and Counseling), I spoke with Brian Barry, who teaches death and dying at RIT in Rochester.

Brian began to explore the field of death and dying after the passing of his mother, and he has been doing it for the past 35 years.

When Barry’s mother passed away, he started to discover things about death and dying that he hadn’t noticed before. He goes into more detail about this in the video below.

Here are some key highlights from the video:

  • In a family, people have different roles which are difficult to fill someone they love is no longer there.
  • Barry was surprised by the reactions he saw in himself and his sisters. Their father passed away 14 years earlier, which is something they hadn’t taken the time to deal with back then. The passing of their mother helped them to think about the death of their father more seriously.
  • Barry’s advice for people who have lost parents and feel like they don’t know how to go on without them is the following two points.
  • First, realize that you’re not alone in your situation. Barry gives the example that he would talk with his sisters and discuss how they were coping with the loss.
  • Don’t pretend that you’re ok and that you can get through the grieving process entirely on your own. Find someone who going through it as well and open up to them about how you’re feeling.
  • Barry lost his parents at a very young age, which is something he admits to not even realizing at the time. It wasn’t something he thought about. Instead, he accepted the way life was and didn’t dwell on how things might have been different if certain things didn’t happen.
  • Barry’s final words of advice, when dealing with the loss of a parent, is to seek support. You’ll find it if you persevere.

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


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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