Hello and welcome to ABC Grief. In September I attended the inaugural European Grief Conference to discuss ABC’s and co-present a poster on the book My Mother’s Story – Gone Too Soon of which I was a contributing author.
It was great to see so many people from the field of bereavement with a passion to learn and have conversations to advance bereavement care across Europe. Grief as a universal experience was palpable and there was a sense of movement to understand the impact of loss deeper to provide the best support. As a society death is not talked about openly, but times are changing and this is encouraging.
The presenters provided a wealth of information and I came back with even more questions than I went with! Over the next few months I will discuss topics individually from the conference that are relevant to ABC’s and below are a few people I spoke with.
Dr. Allan Koster presented his research on Grief as an Existential and Social Experience, his phrase “more than the loss of an object – loss of an entire world” will resonate with many ABC’s! We spoke about the ‘missing pieces’ that ABC’s experience, and his research at the Danish National Center for Grief adds to knowledge in understanding the phenomenon.
Amber Jeffrey is the podcast host of The Grief Gang, an infectious speaker who discussed her journey and podcast as an ABC. She candidly spoke about the loss of her Mum at 19 and the ripple effect of this experience. An honest and refreshing presentation sharing how her grief for 3 years was expressed as anger and how she came to start her podcast.
Prof. Dr. Paul Boelen presented on Prolonged Grief Disorder, what is understood and what we still need to learn. Whilst PGD has caused a bit of an uproar in the therapeutic community with its inclusion in the DSM-5 in March 2022, it gives a name to what many ABC’s experience. The diagnosis allows clinicians to differentiate between normal grief and persistent, enduring, and disabling grief, with diagnosis considering symptoms for adults still being present 1 year after the loss. For many ABC’s it is 10, 20, 30, 40 years symptomatic and a conversation with Paul was encouraging to learn he saw this in his work too.
Dr. Lucy Selman shared her story including the loss of her father when she was 15. She is the founding director of the Good Grief Festival which arose from her personal and professional interests. Lucy announced at the conference The Grief Channel on You Tube which has a wealth of information and is highly recommended as a resource. Many great topics to add to knowledge!
Dr. Martin Lytje shared his research on children’s experiences when encountering illness and loss in parents. Martin was also part of the research in 2019 ‘Voices of adults bereaved as children’. We have spoken since the conference about some research he has undertaken with Atle Dyregrov on ‘The price of loss – how childhood bereavement impacts education’. This is one I’ll talk about further, sharing his work and my own input.
Things have moved forward considerably for ABC’s but there is still a way to go in this niche area of loss. When asking what was available for research and services it was good to be met with “we don’t but we should”, so I shall continue my conversations!