2 weeks ago I found myself on an early flight out of John Wayne with a final destination of Baltimore, MD.
“Why are you flying to Baltimore?” the nice lady next to me in 26E asked.
“I’m going to a conference.”
“Oh, what kind of conference?”
(sigh) “Well, it’s a Death Conference, I mean a conference on death, it’s death education to be specific.”
“Oh,” she replied, “that’s interesting.” She pointed out Annapolis to me and a few bridges she didn’t know the names of and said no more. Death always kills a conversation.
Thankfully, death doesn’t kill conversations when you’re with a bunch of people who are specializing, studying, measuring and passionate about death. And so I arrived at the Association of Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) conference and found friends, people who didn’t cringe when I said I was from a funeral home, people united with me in our mutual interest and unique purpose.
It would be impossible to convey the amount of information and education that permeated our 3 days so I’ve compiled some of my favorite quotes and take-aways from the conference sessions, I hope you find something inspiring & new (and will feel like it’s ok to carry on conversations with people who go to death conferences):
“We are wired for attachment in a world of impermanence.”
– Robert Neimeyer, PhD from his speech accepting the “Life Time Achievement Award”
*To hear some of the brilliance of Dr. Neimeyer (one of the few people I’ve found who wastes absolutely no words) click here – it’s amazing!
“It is easier to care for your feet if you put slippers on rather than striving to carpet the earth.”
– Robert Wicks, PsyD from his keynote speech: Riding the Dragon: Strengthening the Inner Life of the Caregiver
“Society treats grief like the flu but losses are actually transformational – they change us. It’s not that loss is a burden we can set down, it is a strengthening of our back.”
– John Jordan, PhD from the session: Our Work, Ourselves, Reflecting On Our Own Losses as Thanatologists
“When we are talking to others we are always making decisions about what parts of ourselves we can reveal to them … You may want to share with some and not share with others. you will want to share [your grief story] the most with those whose stories intersect.”
– Phyllis Kosminsky, PhD, FT from the session: Our Work, Ourselves, Reflecting On Our Own Losses as Thanatologists
“No one needs to be the prisoner of his own biography.”
– Robert Neimeyer, PhD from the session: Our Work, Ourselves, Reflecting On Our Own Losses as Thanatologists
“Death is not always the most profound of losses for some people … lack of grief in non-death losses has resulted in this group of people having a lower rate of seeking help vs. death loss grievers.”
“When defining loss we should be listening to what people are telling us they are grieving, not just what we have traditionally associated with grief.”
– Mary Alice Varga from the session: Research that Matters 2014: Non-Death Losses
and probably my favorite quote or simile from the conference,
“Death is like taking off a tight shoe.”
– Rebecca Brown, MDiv, CT from the session: Don’t Mean To Dwell On This Dying Thing
*And yes, for you Dave Matthews fans out there the title of her talk comes from his song “Pig”. Rebecca was absolutely phenomenal, she works with teenagers who are sick and dying and does wonderful work with Streetlight to hear this amazing 20 minute talk on TED Talks, click here.
I hope you found these extraordinary quotes/thoughts interesting and I also hope that perhaps they tapped something inside of you, a thought or feeling you’ve had for a long time but couldn’t put into words.
Please, share your thoughts in the comments below – I’d love to know what these bring out in you.
|| what do you think?
Does one of these quotes in particular strike you?
Has your impression of a “Death Conference” changed after reading this?
Will you be joining us next year in San Antonio, TX for ADEC 2015?? ; )