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 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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