Giving Back After Coping with a Loss: Interview with Dr.Janna Henning

At the annual ADEC (Association of Death Education and Counseling), I spoke with Dr. Janna Henning about her losses and how she went on to help other people the way she helped herself.

Getting into the field of death and dying was influenced by Janna’s own loss experience. At the age of 21, Janna was in a car accident where her best friend died. Six months later, Janna’s partner was killed in a similar accident.

For Janna, having those two loss experiences in her 20’s influenced her way of understanding loss. When Janna later entered the field of psychology it never left her mind that there’s a need for more loss-informed care in the field of psychology.

In the video below, Janna explains how he found hope again and started giving back.

Here are some key takeaways from the video:

  • Finding hope again was a long process for Janna because there wasn’t a lot of support around her, so she was left to go through it alone.
  • Eventually, through her own reflection, Janna got to a place where she felt OK personally but she always had the desire to give back.
  • In the trauma field, what Janna went through is called the ‘survivor mission’.
  • People who have been through traumatic life experience often want to go on a survivor mission of giving back and helping others.
  • As a teacher, Janna says it’s tremendously rewarding to teach her students about going out and helping others. She believes she can have an even bigger impact through teaching than she can through therapy.

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

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Heidi Horsley

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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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