During the National Alliance for Grieving Children conference, Dr. Heidi Horsley connected with Tiffany Papageorge to discuss her book, My Yellow Balloon: A Book About Loss. It’s a book about any kind of loss, using metaphors to take you through the process of loss. It was initially written as a high school project for class. Her teacher adored it so much she tried to publish it. That didn’t happen, but the story followed Papageorge through the years. Now it’s been published, and focuses on the transformation that comes when we feel our way through grief rather than push it aside.

Some amazing changes and transformations can occur. The feedback Papageorge has received from parents who read the book to their children has been tremendous. It offers language you can use to communicate with your family. An invaluable tool, it opens up dialogue naturally. This can be especially challenging for parents and children who need to check in on a daily basis. Dr. Horsley, who works with grieving families, sees this time and time again: Parents just can’t seem to connect with their grieving kids.

One Tool of Many

Papageorge initially wrote the story at 14, when she was a grieving child. That’s still highlighted in the book, and you can see it was written from the perspective of a grieving child. At that point in her young life, Papageorge had lost many people. Today, she loses between 7-15 loved ones each year. What helps her find hope is creativity, which is what inspired her book.

The antidote to depression is creation, according to Papageorge. Her mother nurtured this, and consistently put her in situations where she could express with creation. From art to journaling and everything in between, creativity is a fantastic processing tool.

 

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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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