Most of the people I come into contact with day-to-day have no idea what the term “thanatology” means. According to the dictionary, it is defined as “the study of the effects of death and dying, especially the investigation of ways to lessen the suffering and address the needs of the terminally ill and their survivors.” There is actually a certification in thanatology offered by ADEC (the Association of Death Educators and Counselors) and the organization holds a conference each year. In April of this year, I had the privilege of attending this amazing conference on end-of-life, dying, death and the bereaved. Visit www.adec.org to learn more.
There were several other conferences in town that week and every time someone asked what ADEC was (we would answer the Association of Death Educators and Counselors) people would respond with things like “Oh, my daughter knows sign language” or “It certainly is rewarding working with the hard-of-hearing.” No, not deaf, DEATH. I even remember telling my friends I was attending a death conference and they said, “Seriously?”
In all actuality, I gained so much information from this conference that I can apply to what I do in death education and grief. Not once while I was with my “death” colleagues did anyone think we were weird or morbid. So what is a death conference? It is an opportunity to learn cutting edge theories and practices on everything related to end-of-life, illness, dying, death, grief and bereavement. Here is a sample of the classes offered:
- Trauma Transformed: Images & Stories from “Suicide Survivors Club”
- Models of Grief and their Clinical Implications
- Health Care Professionals Grieve Too: Acknowledging the Losses
- Mourning Rituals Around the Globe: Common Needs, Diverse Expressions
- Being With Suffering: Navigating the Caldron of Illness and Death
- Dying and the Bereaved Self: Death Selves and Death Anxiety
- Looking at End-of-Life Support in a New Way
- Teaching That Matters: Death Education in the Community
- Soul and Self Care: Imperatives for Healthy Caregivers
- Informal Learning in Hospice/Burnout and Death Anxiety in Hospice
As you can see there is much opportunity to learn and to be able to apply these learning principles to what I do for Schoedinger and the health care community. Often I see in the community that there is a negative connotation when people think of death and end-of-life. ADEC is an entire organization dedicated to increasing death awareness and education, and eliminating that negative stigma.
It is my goal to bridge that gap between the healthcare community and the funeral home, and attending conferences like this affords me the opportunity to incorporate the tools I need to accomplish this task.
When I first started working for Schoedinger in this position, I would often attend networking events and people would avoid me, the “death lady.” Now I walk into a room and people say, “Oh, it’s Julie.” This is a good thing.
Learn more about continuing education opportunities by visiting our dedicated caregiver website at http://www.thecaregivingtree.com. Click on the Support tab to view our Event Calendar.