Grief Speaks: Giving
every child, teenager and adult permission to grieve and providing grief with a voice by means of presentations and workshops
that provide education, strategies, resources and support for children, teens and adults who are coping with grief due to
all different types of loss.
"There are three needs of the griever: To find the words for the loss, to say the words aloud
and to know that they have been heard."- Victoria Alexander
Like "Grief Speaks" on Facebook for daily quotes, resources, books and helpful coping suggestions.
Like "Grief Speaks 4 Teens" on Facebook and read anonymous cards written by teens about what they are struggling with, how they feel and what helps them
Please check out Miles, our adorable Grief Speaks' Therapy Dog who
stars in some brand new YouTube Clips, as he and friends learns about coping with grief and loss. Visit the Miles page on this site or click here
Speaks conducts workshops, presentations, keynotes and in-service trainings for schools, hospitals,
businesses, agencies, communities, and organizations. Lisa speaks to adults, teenagers and children
about Coping with Losses, Transitions and Grief. Audiences leave with a better understanding of how grief manifests in children,
teens and adults. Lisa teaches that grief is not only from a death loss but from such issues as loss of relationship, loss
of possessions, loss of identity, loss of hope and dreams, loss of skills and abilities, loss of the future, loss of safety,
loss of environment and more. She teaches that some loss is tangible while other loss is intangible. Lisa provides many coping
tools and strategies that can be used by young children, elementary level, middle schoolers and teenagers. Lisa creates an
interactive program that changes the way her participants view grief and how they may now support a fellow griever. Lisa
speaks all over NJ in elementary, middle and high schools as well as colleges and universities. Students and school staff
benefit tremendously from the wide variety of presentation topics that Grief Speaks offers.
- Lisa was the keynote speaker for
the New York Council on Problem Gambling in Albany on May 11, 2012. Her topic: Gambling and Grief: Exploring the Connections.
- Lisa presented to the New Jersey School Counselor's Association Conference
in October, 2011 on Supporting Students Coping with a Death: Sudden or Anticipated. Helping students cope with a death of
a parent, friend, pet, grandparent or other important person in their lives.
- Lisa spoke in Minnesota on September 12 and 13, 2011, to students K-12, faculty and staff of schools and the entire
community in an evening program on Coping with Grief and Loss.
- Lisa presented an all day program at the New Jersey Community College Counselors' Association Annual Conference on
December 10th, 2010. "Responding to a loss: Grief Counseling interventions for community college professionals".
Brookdale Community College 8:30AM- 3:30PM
presented to the NJ State School Nurses' Association at the NJEA Teacher Convention in Atlantic City: a 3 hour workshop: Beyond
Band-aids: Supporting Grieving Students as a School Nurse 11/4/10
presented two sessions for the Wellness Community: When a Family is Affected by Cancer: Strengthening the School's Response
"When Students Grieve, How Schools Can Help"- 10/26/10 at the Bridgewater Manor
- Lisa presented to the
N.J. Community College Counselors for their mini conference on Suicide: What College Counselors Need to Know on 2/18/11
- Lisa presented to the
Essex County School Nurse Association in February, 2011
- Lisa presented at the Bergen County DFYS staff in February 2011
- Lisa will be presenting
to the N.J.School Counselors Association on When Grief Affects a School in October 2011 for their annual fall conference.
will be presenting a workshop called Grief and Gambling in September for the Compulsive Gambling Association of NJ at their
- Lisa will be speaking at an elementary school in Minnesota on Coping with Grief and
Loss While Building Resiliency in Children to faculty, students and parents.
- Lisa will be facilitating Suicide
Prevention Programs to the North Plainfield School System in September, 2011 and February, 2012
Grief Speaks is also available to come out in the event of a loss at school,
work or in the community to speak about the loss and grief, which is a very important topic yet often avoided in our
society. Often grief becomes like the elephant in the room, clearly present, but often unacknowledged. It is valuable and
important that we do not pretend that everything is still the same after a loss has occurred. Unresolved and unacknowledged
grief can lead to a lack of joy, depression, unhealthy risk taking behaviors, promiscuity, substance abuse and addictions,
emotional problems, difficulty in relationships, academic failure, apathy, delinquency, anxiety, rage, self harm and
even suicide or homicide.
Who can benefit
from Grief Speaks? Teachers, parents, coaches, physicians, nurses, hospital staff, emergency room staff, EMS workers,
fire departments, police departments, First Aid Squads, assisted living facilities and nursing homes, aunts, uncles,
camp counselors, youth group directors, YMCA staff, guidance departments, student assistant counselors, school
staff and support staff including custodians, bus drivers, lunch aides, office staff, school nurses, board of education
members, PTA's, counselors, day care workers, crossing guards, after school staff, coaches, religious teachers and leaders,
corporations and employees, and anyone else who would like to learn how to support or assist grieving children, teens or adults
in their lives at home, work or in the community.
What Schools Have
Hi Lisa, This email is long
overdue. You can and spoke to my graduate class at Kean University a couple of months ago. I run a grief group at my school
for several students and sometimes I feel stuck and unsure which direction to take with them. After listening to you speak,
I feel more confident and comfortable running this group. I also passed along the information to their families about the
camp (Clover Camp: free bereavement day camp for children ages 7-15 on August 22-26, 2011), support groups and other resources
you shared with us. It is extremely important to me as a school counselor and LAC to always have as many resources and as
much information as possible to best serve my students and clients. After hearing what you shared you helped me along my path
personally as well. You reminded me that it is OK to express my own grief in various ways and that this will be a life-long
process for me as well as my family members. Thank you for the reminder to treat myself as lovingly as I do my students and
clients. Thank you for all you shared and provided. I have purchased several of the books and resource guides that you brought
to show us. They have been extremely successful. You website is a HUGE source of information. I LOVE IT and have shared it
with several friends who are school or professional counselors!! You're amazing...keep up the amazing work you do so selflessly
each day. I remember you were playing music as we walked into class. Here are two great suggestions for you from a newly released
Micheal Jackson album: Hold My Hand and A Place with No Name. Thank you, Thank you. Jodi Hess (School Counselor)
“Lisa gave a presentation to our school guidance counselors that was outstanding: informative, lively, articulate,
meaningful, everything we could have asked for. The audience was totally engrossed from start to finish. The material benefited
not only every student in the school whom we can now counsel more effectively but every counselor personally as well. Her
talk was so dynamic and energetic that we all felt we could have sat for another two hours. I personally wished I had taped
the presentation so I could play it back and digest all the little gems of wise advice that were interspersed with her accounts
of actual cases. She also brought much wonderful resource material--one of the counselors was so excited, she said she wanted
to read each and every book on the table. I would heartily recommend Lisa as a speaker for teachers, counselors and/or students,
especially in a situation where many are dealing with crisis situations. She is loaded with good advice and good strategies.” November
13, 2009, Shelly Levine, Head of Guidance at Delbarton School, Mendham, NJ
"I had the privilege to meet Lisa when she gave a workshop on Grief and Loss
at Passaic County Technical Institute. Co-Workers and I concur that this was one of the best continuing education training
we have ever attended. Lisa is extremely knowledgeable in her field and captures each audience she meets as she is a dynamic
speaker with a myriad of resources and tools to work with a grieving population. I have always been impressed by how much
she puts herself into her work with the populations she serves -- her enthusiasm is contagious. Ever evolving in her scope
of practice, Lisa’s expansion from consultant into the world of her own company is a credit to her drive to help others
and I am pleased to have her as a colleague.” November 13, 2009, Stephanie Nauta, Guidance Department at Passaic County Technical Institute where Lisa
spoke to the staff for a 2 hour professional development workshop on Supporting Grieving Students. Stephanie is also a professor
at Kean University and had Lisa speak in 2008 and 2009 to her graduate students on The Importance of Supporting Students Coping
from the New Jersey Counseling Association Conference 4-10-2010
Presented on Grief, Loss and Healthy Coping at Brookdale Community College
"Excellent speaker!!! Have her back next year!" "Excellent
presentation. I have seen Lisa before and she is very knowledgeable and dynamic." "Wonderful,
energetic, funny and amazing. A real find. Hope she is back again." "Lisa was great. Loved hearing all of her real life stories.
Lots of great one liners." " Great presenter, dynamic and captivating.
Great way of using real life examples and experiences to express the outlined concepts." "Fabulous
presentation! Really human, warm, funny and compassionate. Bravo!" "Multi
sensory, verbal, visual, tactile, clear, funny, complete, inspiring, helpful and excellent!" "Inspiring and informative presentation. Thank you for your preparation and humor which made a usual
"untouchable" topic more realistic and helpful." "Phenomenal presentation!
Loved it. Best of all I had attended. Engaging." "Very interesting.
I wish all people would attend this workshop so they could understand what is and what is not helpful when one is grieving.
The books she recommends are great reading." "Excellent speaker.
The energy and the comedy!" "You were phenomenal. I held my tears back for 2
hours and my dad died six years ago!" "Presenter was excellent! Great use of humor
to keep up attention and interest. Extremely knowledgeable. Loved it!" "Excellent information
and vibrant presentation". "Best presentation yet! Hands on,
exciting, real examples and ideas to utilize. Energetic, excellent!."
Thoughts on Grief
crucial that we don't ignore grief or pretend it isn't there. Stuffing and avoiding it only causes it to fade from the surface
and erupt later and in different, and often destructive ways. Grief is normal and natural. We need to acknowledge another's
loss and grief, be understanding and patient that each person grieves in his own time and in her own way. Say something
like "I am so sorry to hear about your loss". So often grievers feel left to handle the loss alone, as others are
so afraid of saying the wrong thing, so they say or do nothing.
Offer a hug, send a card, show up, partake in the rituals, acknowledge the loss, bake some
cookies, share memories of their loved one, just sit with them and allow them to express their grief. Don't force someone
to talk about it. Trust that if a person feels safe, respected and supported during their time of loss, they will grieve.
When we love someone and lose them we grieve. Many say that grief is a sign of love. However, we grieve those relationships
that were full of conflict and hurt too. Don't assume that the relationship was only positive. It is healthy for the griever
to be able to talk about the happy and the less than happy memories. Grant one another permission to grieve. Grief is
a process, not an event. In our fast paced world, we long for speed grief. We grow impatient when others are "not over
it" yet or "still sad". We think that there is a time frame for grief and often act like the "grief police"
letting others know that they are violating their allowed time. Grievers need bumper stickers that read, "I am grieving
as fast as I can" or "Griever on Board". We must do the difficult and at times exhausting 'grief work' if
we are to begin the healing process and to be able to once again engage in life and relationships fully.
What Schools Say About Grief Speaks:
an engaging speaker who offers useful tools to help people of all ages understand and manage feelings that they may not even
know are related to grief and loss. She infuses humor and real life examples into her presentations that everyone can relate
to. Lisa is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about her commitment to helping others recognize how grief and loss may
be affecting them. I think it's extremely beneficial for parents, educators, and students to attend her talks
to help them know what to say and what to do when someone in their lives or communities suffers a loss. I highly
recommend attending a Grief Speaks presentation! It's an empowering experience!" Laura
Leigh Smith, Ph.D, LPC Corresponding Secretary t for the James Caldwell PTA, Springfield, NJ.
"Didn't want this day to go by before thanking you so much for your wonderful presentation last night!!!
It was informative, heart-wrenching, and even humorous (if that is possible!) ...making it a totally enjoyable
evening for all! It doesn't matter how many times I hear you speak, you continue to enlighten and inspire
me to think outside the box in my daily practice!"
Monica Cattano, Nurse at Jefferson School,
"Thank you for taking the
time to present to our school. The staff, students, and parents learned a great deal about recognizing when someone is
grieving. We also learned about the many types of losses that may cause someone to grieve. Your presentations at our
faculty and PTA meetings helped us to identify grief in others, especially our students, while providing strategies to
assist those who are grieving. Through your classroom presentations, our students gained an understanding of how to deal with
their own losses and how to be sensitive to anyone who is grieving from a loss. In the short time since your presentations,
we have already experienced the benefits from them. The staff, counselor and I have begun using strategies learned to
assist our students. On behalf of the entire faculty at James Caldwell School, I appreciate your support and welcome
you back next year." David Rennie,
Principal at James Caldwell School, Springfield, NJ.
High School Students Say About Grief Speaks:
was so refreshing to have someone talk to us about dealing with different kinds of grief. For me, this was the first
time anyone has even spoken to me about how to handle loss. It took so much tension from my life when I realized that
all of the anger I was feeling was really just masked grief." HS senior
" Thank you for helping me with my friend who has a dad who was
diagnosed with cancer a year ago. He is going to die and now I have learned things to do and say that can be helpful and help
her as well through it. Thank you for helping". HS sophomore
"Thanks for coming in. I learned that I am in grief over being overweight My friends tease me a lot
and I go along with it and make fun of myself when really it hurts, and I wish so bad that I wasn't overweight."
"I can't thank you
enough. My dad died two years ago and not one kid in school talked about my dad after that. You came and gave permission to
the kids to talk to me again. My best friend and I haven't spoken in the past two years much at all, and now after your talk,
we sat and talked for an hour. He apologized and told me he didn't think he should bring up the death. Now we have our friendship
back. I am so grateful that you came in. The kids are now talking to me about my dad and it is a relief."
"I think every student from Kindergarten up through high
school should hear these presentations. This is so much more important than math." HS senior
What Middle Schoolers Have to Say to Lisa
after her 1 hour presentation in their classroom:
"The assembly was helpful as it taught me that it is okay to cry. My favorite part was when we talked about
what helps when we are feeling upset." "I thought this talk was very
useful as it taught us how to get your stress out. I like how we got to share stuff on a card with her and she read it outloud
and gave us help with our difficulties." "I think Grief Speaks
was a cool assmbly. I liked the idea of writing a letter when you are mad, but not sending it to the person. I think I will
use these ideas the next time I have to deal with tough stuff in my life." "This
program really helped me with dealing with the death of some of my relatives. I now have some things that I can do like make
a memory box or write them a letter saying everything I didn't get to say to them. I also learned that you can go to a guidance
counselor at school to talk about your problems, not just about school work." "I
feel bad for anyone who missed this assembly. It was great. It can save kids from going into gangs or even the wrong crowd.
I think it was incredible. I hope that they continue this so the next generation will receive the privilege of hearing this
What Elementary School Students Have to Say:
"I learned from your presentation that when you are grieving you can talk to someone about it. I also
learned that it is okay to be sad when we lose someone we love. I learned a lot from your lesson. It really helped.
"I thank you for explaining
grief. I had it but didn't know what it was called. When I was younger my cat died. I loved him a lot and miss
him still. You taught me that is okay. Thanks."
" When you came in I then realized what grief
means and what it is. I know what I can do and that it is okay to feel the way I feel."
have shown me some ways to get my frustrations out. Thank you for teaching us about grief."
learned that it doesn't have to be a death to feel grief. Thank you for teaching us about grief. It is good to know
about since we all have losses."
"Thank you for telling us that it isn't our fault when our parents fight or even get divorced.
I thought it was my fault. Now I know it isn't. I feel much better now. I am so glad you came to our school."
"Now I know how to make a scream
box and am going home to make one for each person in my family. They can stop yelling at each other so much. Thanks."
"Thanks for reading us the book about
the cat who died. I got some good ideas now since my dog is old."
"I am glad you came to our school. Adults don't talk
to kids much about this stuff and it is something we think about. You let us ask questions and share what we wanted to share.
What Teachers Have to Say:
"The presenter was excellent, motivating and relevant to this population." A High School Teacher in Union, NJ
"I am more aware
of the grief factor in my students now." A
High school teacher in Union, NJ
"Outstanding presentation. My staff
had such positive and favorable comments about her presentation and it was very informative. This helped all of our teachers."
Virginia Ladd, Director of Far Hills Country Day School, Intermediate School
What Hospitals Have to Say:
"Lisa's talk was phenomenally good. She was spontaneous and absolutely riveting, with more than enough important
content to anchor the stories she told. I wish I had the talk on tape, both for the value it had for me personally as well
as for professional use. I intend to have her come speak to the family medicine residents here at the hospital. I would urge
all of the other residencies to consider her as well." Stuart Green, PMH, LCSW, Associate
Director of Overlook Hospital Family Medicine Residency Program, Summit
Counselors Have to Say:
“Lisa Athan provides exceptional training to both children and adults on how to
help children in grief. Through her workshops, she engages participants in understanding the impact of grief through simulations,
reflections and sharings while also sharing her keen insight into the grief process. Anyone who has had the privilege of attending
such a session led by Lisa is sure to report an "Ah-ha" moment when he or she reaches a new level of understanding.
If you are in need of a caring and competent trainer or support person, I urge you to contact Lisa.” - Mary Fleck
(Facilitator of Peer Support
Group , Good Grief)
"She's excellent - I want to put her in my pocket and take her home."
Morris County 2008 NJ Student Assistant Professionals Conference
was inspiring, funny, engaging with great tools, ideas and book suggestions"
"Your workshop was really engaging and amazing. I learned so much that I am able to apply daily! Thank you
for your dedication and knowledge on grief work. It is so important!" Counselor at a Livingston Elementary
School (Sept 08)
What Others Have to Say:
"Lisa, We thoroughly enjoyed your presentation at the Glen Rock Jewish Center at the Movin-On Group (for
widows and widowers).Your delivery was so engaging. By any measure you are a very effective speaker and educator. I found
your comments on living with grief especially stimulating . It was thoughtful of you to add those personal observations.
Your talk gave many of us a boost to life . I personally feel much more confident in handling my own grief . Thank you for
a very valuable experience. and I hope you can visit us again." With Gratitude Binny
" We pay psychotherapists to cure it, take Prozac to mute it, seek counseling from religions
which exhort us to rise above it, read inspirational books to overcome it, join recovery groups and self-help groups to cope
with it, spend millions to escape it, use alcohol, drugs, food, work, possessions, sex, entertainment and all the techno-toys
we can get to distract ourselves from it." - Margaret Greenspan, Healing Throught the Dark EmotionUnacknowledged and Unaddressed Grief may Manifest as:
- cutting and other self injurious behaviors
- acting out behavior
- learning difficulties
- post traumatic stress disorder
"There are many sorrows in today's world! These sorrows are due
to hunger, to dislodging, to all kinds of illness. I am convinced that the greatest sorrow of all sorrows is to feel alone,
to feel unwanted, deprived of all affection. It consists in not having anyone....May we all be instruments of peace, of love,
and of compassion." Mother TeresaIt is crucial that we discuss this very important topic that is affecting our present as well as our future. We need
to learn how to support one another in grief as well as to learn powerful tools that can encourage and increase resiliency in