I just spent a very busy day at the 2012 ADEC (Association for Death Education and Counseling) Conference in Atlanta.
On Thursday morning, I made a presentation – “Building Community for Grieving Friends Online” – about the development and marketing of this blog.
My audience was knowledgeable and enthusiastic. No one walked out while I was talking (always an ego-boost for a speaker). It was certainly the only session out of many dozens that dealt specifically with grieving a friend.
Early in my talk, I quoted one of my favorite stats:
“If you Google ‘grieving the death of a friend’, you will get more hits for grieving a 4-legged friend than a human one.”
I remember how shocked I was, about 18 months ago, when I first did that search. And a year later – though the difference in numbers was smaller – the result was the same.
I attended some wonderful sessions, too. One was a lunchtime networking group on Buddhism and thanatology. I don’t know a lot about Buddhism, but it was a welcome, relaxing way to re-charge my batteries and focus on the afternoon.
I also went to a panel on resiliency in the LGBTQ community. It was quite a lively discussion, especially after I admitted my lingering anger over what I experienced at the height of the AIDS epidemic in the late 80’s/early 90’s. That opened the door to what many see as a tragic complacency on the part of straight and gay people in the US. AIDS has become seen as a manageable disease – just like diabetes – and not a death sentence.
Because of that, infections are on the rise: not just among young gay men, but among straight people 50 and older. Like I said, the discussion really got people energized: to do something in their own communities, and to press ADEC to take advantage of the incredible resources of those who have been in the trenches all these 30 years.
A lot of the fun of conferences is between sessions. I met someone I only knew on Twitter, and we had a great visit. I saw and talked to every person I wanted to contact. I now have some new, great resources for my book and this blog. And maybe even a few new friends.
There are a lot of very passionate, dedicated people at this conference: people who deal in end-of-life issues and bereavement around the world.
I want to make two final points:
First, I went there to make sure that this blog – and the issue of grieving a friend – be included in the conference, the theme of which was “Being a Healing Presence in a Hurting World”.
Second, there is help out there for you, if you need it. Not one person there would discount the very real grief you feel from losing a friend. I’m not a therapist, but if you feel stuck in your grief and need professional help, it’s out there.
Because of the conference, too, I’ll be adding some additional resources to the blog. Some are organizations that work with specific groups of people dealing with friend grief: military, police officers, LGBTQ. Some are individuals, whose practices include helping those grieving a friend.
So, look for some changes to this blog (all good) in the coming weeks. As always, if you would like to recommend something or someone to add to the Resources Page, feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the details.
And stay tuned for information on my first mini e-book, and how you can get it for free.