At the annual ADEC (Association of Death Education and Counseling), I spoke with Stephen Stott about the loss of his sister and how eventually he found peace and hope with new friends and The Compassionate Friends organization.

Stephen lost his sister in a car accident in 2002. His mother started going to The Compassionate Friends shortly after, but it wasn’t until a few years had passed before Stephen felt comfortable enough to go.

The experience ended up being great, but it’s nervous going somewhere for the first time with no idea of what to expect. In the video below, Stephen helps get everyone acquainted with The Compassionate Friends organization.

Here are some key takeaways from the video:

  • It’s helpful to be around other people who have experienced loss and understand the situation you’re in.
  • When you lose someone you love, your relationships with everyone inevitably change. Stephen recommends going to a group like The Compassionate Friends because it’s possible they will be able to understand you on a deeper level than your friends do because they have been through something similar.
  • How do you get your kids involved with The Compassionate Friends? Stephen recommends bringing them and see how they take to it. When Stephen first went he says he hung out with himself a lot before eventually making friends and becoming part of the group.
  • Stephen feels that sibling loss is different from other kinds of loss due to how close in age siblings tend to be. When growing up with your sibling you expect to die around the same time, so when you lose a sibling everything changes.
  • Stephen also suggests that parents need to realize children all grieve in their own way. Help them when they need it, not when you feel that your children need the help.

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

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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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