Janet McCord: Marian University’s Thanatology Graduate Program

While at the National Alliance for Grieving Children conference, Dr. Gloria Horsley connects with Janet McCord of Marian University. The Thanatology Graduate Program focuses on death and dying. Located in Wisconsin, it’s a fully online program that offers people the opportunity to complete it remotely. You’re required to have a bachelor’s degree and a strong interest in the grief and bereavement field. Sometimes those with a loss are discouraged to do anything with it. You’re supposed to get over it, move on, and get some closure. However, many in the graduate program have had a major loss—some very traumatic. They feel moved to get an education to work in the industry.

Helping others is a big part of the healing process for many. There’s no need to discourage people from pursuing this path, but the timing should be right. If it’s too soon after a loss, the content can be very triggering. People can come in with a lot of passion, and find it overwhelming pretty quickly. This can cause them to run away, which is why one course at a time is recommended.

A Higher Education

Whatever time is right for you, come back and see if it works. Nobody is considered a failure if they move in and out of the program. Self-care is critical in this program, and if someone needs to practice it, they can put their education on hold. You can always come back, and keep in touch with the faculty and professors if you like. This is yet another community that provides support to the bereaved.

There are many ways to heal after a loss, and pursuing a graduate degree in a related field is just one of them. Others start a non-profit, volunteer, or practice music or a type of art.


Gloria Horsley

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Dr. Gloria Horsley is an internationally known grief expert, psychotherapist, and bereaved parent. She started "Open to Hope" to help the millions in the world with grief. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Clinical Nurse Specialist, and has worked in the field of family therapy for over 20 years. Dr. Horsley hosts the syndicated internet radio show, The Grief Blog which is one of the top ranked shows on Health Voice America. She serves the Compassionate Friends in a number of roles including as a Board of Directors, chapter leader, workshop facilitator, and frequently serves as media spokesperson. Dr. Horsley is often called on to present seminars throughout the country. She has made appearances on numerous television and radio programs including "The Today Show," "Montel Williams," and "Sallie Jessie Raphael." In addition, she has authored a number of articles and written several books including Teen Grief Relief with Dr. Heidi Horlsey, and The In-Law Survival Guide.

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