Representing The Foster Club at the National Alliance for Grieving Children conference is Tesia Henderson, who talks with Dr. Heidi Horsley about foster care, hope, and resiliency in youth. A lot of youth in foster care have been traumatized and are grieving. It may be the loss of a parent or the loss of a family member, and it’s not always grief from death. Being removed from your home and family can cause death-like grieving, especially in younger children who may not understand the reasons for this massive change.

Henderson attended the conference to find out what the Club can learn, what youth can do to affect their own grief process, and what does loss look like when it doesn’t involve a death. Losses come in many different forms, and Henderson knows this first-hand. She was in the foster care system, and says loss in this system is similar to death. “We own our own story,” she says, and can’t compare herself to anyone else.

The Loss Nobody Talks About

Henderson realized that her story meant something to someone else. She mentions Michael, a fellow “alumni” and Club spokesperson, who says everyone who you meet on this journey will impact your life forever. It’s a journey, both life and the foster care system, and it’s important to find your own support. Being able to take control of your own narrative is key. It lets you reclaim your identity.

Your family might not be in your life, but you still have that connection to them. Henderson recommends trying to be happy, no matter how cliché that may sound. Find ways to enjoy happy moments throughout the day. There’s happiness nobody can take from you, such as enjoying a beautiful sky. Make healthy choices, and forgive yourself.



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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