Alan Pederson, Executive Director of The Compassionate Friends, welcomed experts from around the world at the 2015 Association for Death Education and Counseling Conference. The 2015 theme “Hope Shines Bright…Deep in the Heart” was held in Dallas, Texas at the Hyatt Regency Downtown. Joanne Campbell, co-chair of the 38th annual conference, encouraged everyone to attend the event held July 10-12 in downtown Dallas. Pederson and Campbell worked closely together to bring an informative, entertaining and welcoming conference to Texas. Pederson notes, “There’s going to be keynote speakers: Kay Warren, Christopher Jones, Gary Mandel…we have 120+ workshops.”

Niche workshops and breakout sessions were well-seasoned with some unique features this year. According to Campbell, “One of the things we’re doing new this year is the creative café concept.” There were three areas to use creativity and self-care in healing. For example, the Open Grief Studio allowed participants to tap into introspective processes for using creativity in grief. There was also a Craft Corner, where pre-kitted crafts were made available for on-site physical healing via craft. Finally, the Healing Haven focused on self-care practices and techniques for meditation, such as yoga in grieving.

Coming Together

The “heart, mind, body, soul” experience was the focus of the 2015 conference, according to Pederson. “This weekend can change the course of your grief direction,” he says. Flush with a walk to remember, candle-lighting ceremonies and experts from around the globe, this is the conference that many in the industry (and in grief) have looked forward to for decades. The Compassionate Friends offers services and support year-round, but it’s the annual summer conference that brings the most people together.

Pederson and Campbell encourage everyone to attend future annual conference events, and to discover a place of hope, support and love. Registration is available online each year, and highlights from the year’s event are available on YouTube.

 

Alan Pedersen

Alan Pedersen

Alan Pedersen has been performing for more than 25 years. An accomplished singer and award winning songwriter, he spent several years writing and recording music in Nashville, Tennessee. Alan has had several songs recorded by other artists. His writing has not been limited to music, he has written commercials, radio news copy, and collaborations for television shows and other comedy projects. His performing credits are numerous as well. Alan has worked as an actor, stand-up comedian, keynote speaker/emcee, and in radio as a network news and sports reporter for Westwood One Communications. Currently living in Englewood, Colorado, Alan is the father of four boys and an angel. In August of 2001 Alan’s life took a tragic turn, his 18-year-old and only daughter Ashley was killed in an automobile accident. This tragedy would take his life in a direction he never imagined. Struggling for months to find answers and trying to cope with tremendous pain and anger, he entered a grief program in Denver, Colorado and began attending monthly meetings of a support organization (The Compassionate Friends.) Alan credits these organizations with saving his life and inspiring him to honor his daughter’s life by helping others. In July of 2003, Alan released a CD of songs he had written about his walk through the valley of grief, titled Ashley’s Songbook. In 2006, he released a follow up CD titled “A Little Farther Down The Road.” Alan now helps others by sharing his story of faith and hope. His message is simple; grief and loss offer the opportunity for ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things. He believes that healing begins when we once again give of ourselves by helping others. Alan speaks and plays his music for churches and grief organizations around the country. In 2008 Alan will release his third CD of original music about the journey bereaved families must walk. Alan has performed at National Conferences for The Compassionate Friends, Bereaved Parents of the USA, and the World Gathering on Bereavement. Alan will travel and speak 120 times in 2008 for local chapters of TCF, BP-USA, and other grief organizations dedicated to helping families grieving the loss of a child. In February of 2008 Alan released his third CD “More Songs From the Journey” which features “Celebrate the Children” which is the anthem of his concerts and events this year. To learn more about Alan and to get his tour schedule, go to: www.everashleymusic.com. Alan appeared on the radio show Healing the Grieving Heart to discuss “Learning to Live Again After Loss.” To hear his interview with Dr. Gloria and Dr. Heidi Horsley, click on the following link: www.voiceamericapd.com/health/010157/horsley033006.mp3 Alan appeared a second time on the radio show Healing the Grieving Heart to discuss, “The Holidays, Helpful or Hurtful?” to hear his interview with Dr. Gloria and Dr. Heidi Horsley, click on the following link: www.voiceamericapd.com/health/010157/horsley122508.mp3

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