The National Alliance for Grieving Children conference brought together Dr. Heidi Horsley and Marcie Taylor, a bereaved parent who works in the field of grief and loss. Her son died four years ago when he was three years old. Taylor and her husband created the Drew Michael Taylor Foundation in Pennsylvania in memory of Drew. It’s a way to honor her child, serve fellow bereaved families, and empower others who have had a similar life situation.

Grief is isolating and a very lonely feeling. Surrounding yourself with supportive people who “get it” is critical. It’s important, whether you get it through a grief center, family, friends, or any other avenue. Taylor encourages parents to move beyond their own grief. It takes a village to raise your child, and to raise your family while you’re grieving. Vocalize what you need people to do, because otherwise it’s a very lonely place to be.

Identifying Grief Support

As the griever, you need to find the energy to reach out for the help. If you’ve lost hope, reach out to Taylor’s foundation or another center in your area. The Drew Michael Taylor Foundation has a strong social media and online presence. For Taylor, she found great healing in helping others, which is a common reaction for the bereaved. However, it’s important to work on healing yourself first before helping others heal. There’s a thin line between being ready to serve and jumping the gun.

Being a bereaved parent is heartbreaking, but it’s not the end of the world. Honoring your child is a way to continue those bonds beyond death. A relationship doesn’t end when a life does. There are many ways to keep those memories alive.

 

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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 ​National 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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