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.

Heidi Horsley

Dr. Heidi Horsley is a licensed psychologist, social worker, and bereaved sibling. She co-hosts the award-winning weekly cable television show and podcast, Open to Hope. Dr. Heidi is an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University, and an award-winning author, who has co-authored eight books, and serves on the United Nations Global Mental Health Task Force. She also serves on the Advisory Boards for the Tragedy Assistance Program, the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation, and Peace of Mind Afghanistan. She served on the National Board of Directors for The Compassionate Friends, and for 10 yrs. worked on a Columbia University research study looking at traumatic loss over time in families who lost a firefighter in the World Trade Center.

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