Sunday, August 16, 2015

Unique Workshops at TCF

There were many unique workshops held at the TCF Conference this year. Unfortunately, I could not attend all the ones I wanted to. But just to give you an idea of what 'unique' workshops were available, let me summarize what some of them were about. If you have something you’d like to see next year at the Scottsdale Conference, July 8-10, 2016, please let someone at the national office know about it.

Dreams: A Blessing in Disguise for Healing Through Loss and Transition – Carla Blowey, author of “Dreaming Kevin: The Path to Healing” and certified dream work facilitator shares the prophetic dream about the death of her 5-year-old son, Kevin, and the subsequent dreams that offered her forgiveness, healing, spiritual growth and new life. Carla shares examples from her own dream journal, to aid participants in discerning the elements of a “dream visit” and a “grief dream” and recognize both dreams as a valuable tool for reconciling the death of a child. The bereaved were invited to examine their own dreams for personal symbols and metaphors, as a means to reconciliation and self-empowerment.

Surrendering to Grief on Our Own Terms – Often we seek out ways to avoid, suppress or distract ourselves from the overwhelming pain of grief. Yet grief experts tell us that our pain, however terrible, must be dealt with to begin our journey of healing. By surrendering ourselves to the reality that grief over the death of our children will last a lifetime, we can learn to live a life that incorporates happiness and purpose once again. This interactive workshop guided participants through exercises of identifying their personal struggles, triggers, emotions and fears. With this information, each person created the terms of their surrender to grief. These unique set of terms will help begin to define the road map toward healing your grief and reinvesting in life.

Intimacy and Grief – The death of a child, grandchild or sibling changes everything. This includes how you relate to your significant other. This workshop explored what grief can do to intimacy and what can be done about it. The discussion focused on identifying self-expectations about intimacy, suggestions for improving communication and also on issues specifically related to sexual intimacy. Discussions centered on issues that many people find uncomfortable.

Healing When Faith is Not an Option – Many bereaved parents and siblings derive strength and comfort from their religious beliefs. Those who are bereaved who have never subscribed to religious belief or who have rejected the faith in which they were raised (whether related to the loss of their loved one or not) may benefit from support and encouragement that does not refer to an afterlife, heaven, angels, reunification, or signs and messages. This workshop does not denigrate any religious belief, but provided a safe haven for those trying to endure their loss without religious support. Such grievers can sometimes feel isolated and marginalized in a culture where the non-religious are a minority.

Soul Gatherings: A Continuing Bond Meditation – The Soul gatherings experience arises out of stillness and offers an opportunity to participate in a circle with the intention to quiet the mind, open the heart and listen. The mediation process will include an opening intention, invitation into the present moment, guided chakra balancing, invitation for support, guided  journey into an open ended experience, silence, sharing, processing, and closing with gratitude. Soul gatherings offered the bereaved an opportunity to redefine the connection with their loved one, for the Continuing Bond (CB) is an essential component of the healing process. Those who embrace the belief that the experience and conversation arises from thought and memory will benefit in the same way as those who hold a belief that consciousness continues to exist after the physical death of the body. Soul gatherings supports a life affirming transition of loving in presence to loving in separation.

The Grief of Grandparents – This workshop explored ways grandparents can grieve while still being sensitive to their child and daughter/son-in-law, ways to be supportive without hovering/smothering.  If the death of the grandchild affected your relationship, there are some positive ways to mend it. They covered self-care and health issues; physical, mental, emotional, sleeping too much, not sleeping at all, alcohol use, Rx meds, counseling, exercise, eating too much or not eating. The ages of grandchildren, causes of death and how long ago are factors in your grief. Also discussed were ways to honor the memory of the grandchild.

The Healing Power of Animals and Nature in Grief – This interactive workshop explored the healing power of nature and animals for parents who have experienced the death of a child. Covered was the importance of “walking in awareness”, discovering the teachings revealed by nature and animals, and how these teachings can empower parents to transform their perspectives following the death of their children.

Many other workshops dealt with becoming childless, substance related deaths, loss of an infant or toddler, writing to stay connected to true feelings, military loss, stepparents, stillbirths and miscarriages, just to name a few. Something for everyone was the key to the successful conference.

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