A counselor at the Tamarack Grief Resource Center, Dr. Tina Barrett attended the 2015TANA Association of Death Education and Counseling conference where she spoke with the Executive Director of Open to Hope, Dr. Heidi Horsley. Barret’s goal is to “stabilize kids, adults and communities following loss” in the Missoula, Montana area. Offering both support programs and education programs, these programs are earmarked for kids and teens as well as schools that may need help handling grieving students after a loss. “We specialize in grief camps and retreats,” she shares, but even the non-camp groups and programs try to get attendees outside as much as possible.

“What partly sets us apart is the outdoor-based grief support.” Dr. Barrett says that although kids and teens make up a generous amount of their participants, they also work with people of all ages as well as professionals. Montana is geographically a very large state, and of course not everyone lives in the Missoula area. “We’re trying to strengthen communities to be more comfortable dealing with grief,” she says, because it’s a subject that can be uncomfortable and overwhelming.

Filling Disparities

Grief can lead to feelings of isolation, and that can get exacerbated for those who live in more rural areas without in-person support, like the one serviced by the Tamarack Grief Resource Center. Another issue is learning how to support people not just immediately in the aftermath of loss, but often for the rest of their lives. Grief isn’t something you “get over,” but for many who have lost a loved one they report feeling encouraged to get back to normal after a year or two.

There’s no way to “fix” grief, but there are ways of coming together in the process. The goal is to help people continue to honor their own losses while supporting those around them. As a strong, independent state, Montanans can sometimes shy away from grief counseling, but Dr. Barrett is committed to making resources as readily available as possible.




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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