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.
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.