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Grief Speaks offers a three part series of presentations for schools.
1. A  faculty presentation: This interactive workshop trains educators, school nurses, counselors, special service, support staff and administrators on strategies and up to date information on issues that pertain to the support of grieving children and teens in school. School staff will learn tools, strategies and ways to interact with grieving students that are helpful as well as to learn what to avoid. Faculty will feel more confident to support a grieving student and better equipped in dealing with students who are coping with such concerns as: losses related to a death, divorce, separation, abandonment, illness in the family, academic struggles, loss of home, a parent's loss of income, deployment of a family member, friendship issues, moving, coping with learning disabilities and more. Participants will come out with a deeper understanding of how children and teens grieve as well as better ways to support other staff members who are grieving as well. This workshop is popular with guidance departments, school nurses, special services and as an entire faculty presentation.
2. Classroom presentations to the students Each presentation is age appropriate and geared to the developmental levels of the students. This program serves students K -12th. Children want to learn helpful ways to cope with all different types of loss and their feelings that go with those losses. In the elementary level the emphasis is on coping with pet loss, grandparent loss as well as friendship issues and moving. These students love learning about the normal range of feelings that all of us experience after a change and helpful ways to deal with those feelings in healthy ways. Students are taught to identify a safe adult or two in school (teacher, counselor, nurse, principal)who the child can go to if they are having a problem. Problem solving is part of the lesson as we work together to come up with safe and acceptable outlets to express their feelings both in and out of school. Students share such ideas as talking about it, drawing about it, taking it out in gym, writing it down in their pad, taking ten deep breaths and more. Children with special needs also grieve and often are overlooked. Adults want to protect children as well as those with special needs but do more harm by not allowing them to talk about grief and loss issues.   We need to educate children about grief so that when it happens to them, they feel a bit better able to cope and understand what is happening, as well as have some tools in their tool box. We would not test a child on algebra if they have never learned basic math. Why do we wait until a traumatic event in a child's life to talk about loss and grief and ways to handle grief. Children also need to learn empathy and school is a wonderful place to teach that life lesson as well. With the use of Play Doh, Scream Boxes, dominoes, paper and crayons, books and discussion this program is not at all boring for these students.  This program for the students is extremely valuable and often middle school students thank me for the elementary presentation as they felt more equipped to handle the losses that came a year or so later. Children always ask me when can I come back to their classroom again. 
  • Nursery, preschool presentation
  • Elementary School presentation
  • Middle School presentation
  • High School presentation
  • After School program presentation
  • School Club presentations
3. Parent/Guardian presentation (PTO,PTA)
Parents so often are in the dark about how to support their grieving children. Many parents were surprised to know that although many children appear to be just "fine" they in fact are grieving. If the parents are grieving too, as in a divorce, death, illness, they often don't have the energy to empathize or sometimes to see the grief in their own children.Today's parents feel overwhelmed with the financial, emotional, physical, psychological energy involved in parenting and are motivated to learn helpful tools and strategies to help their children. Children who receive support with their grief as children, are found to be much less likely to : abuse substances, experience behavioral problems, develop depression and anxiety and to complete suicide. Parents will learn what is normal for children of different ages, learn what to say when a classmates' parent dies and their child asks if they will die too, what to say when a child wants to know what will happen to him if you they are very ill. These and other difficult questions can be addressed. Parents and guardians, who often are grandparents, aunts and uncles, foster parents, legal guardians all will benefit from learning this vital information.There is always time for questions and answers at the end of the program. Typically this program lasts for one and a half hours or two hours. 
Here are a few of the programs that I have done for schools: 
 Navigating Our Way Through
Family Changes

A special family presentation open to families
from all five Summit Elementary Schools
(Appropriate for students in grades 3 - 5 and their parents)

Facilitated by Lisa Athan
Executive Director and founder of Grief Speaks

Family changes can come in many forms – a move to a new
school and/or new town, a new baby in the house, the death
of a loved one, the loss of a pet, separation, divorce,etc.
Lisa will share her expertise in offering hands on
strategies to identify, handle and express the natural
feelings and thoughts that follow loss and transition of
any kind. Please join us for this unique event!!
Wednesday, January 26th,
from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
in the Jefferson School Gym
Sponsored by the Elementary Counseling Department
in conjunction with the Jefferson School PTO
For questions, please call your respective School Counselor
Mr. Jeff Lambert (273-1333 X 6437) or
Mr. Tom DeMuro (273-3807 X 6361)
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The Essex County School Nurses’ Association


invites you to an educational program


“Death, Dying & Grief”

Speaker: Lisa Athan, Director of Grief Speaks  



When: January 26, 2011

Where: South Orange Middle School

70 N Ridgewood Rd, South Orange, NJ 07079

The meeting will take place in the school's library.  


Please park in the back of the building and enter the building from the back.  Cathy Iorio, CSN, our hostess, will have someone available in the back to open the door as well as have signs to direct members to the library which is on the second floor. 

Please contact Cathy with questions or concerns at 973 378-2772 Ext. 2013

(Please Google Map/ Map Quest for school directions)


                                                    Time: 4:00pm

 Refreshments will be served.            

 Don't miss this informative presentation! Bring your colleagues too.

                                                                                Program fee for non-members is $15.00. Professional Development Hours awarded.


West Essex Middle School Assembly:
Program for the entire 7th and 8th grades (580 students) on:
Middle Schoolers Coping with Transitions, Grief and Loss
Chatham Middle School
Classroom Presentations to Students:
 Middle Schoolers Coping with Stress, Transitions and Loss
October 13,14 & 15, 2010
Grief Speaks presented to all 965 CMS students over a 3 day period during physical education classes


Words from an elementary school principal:


"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.


Letter from a SAC at Woodbridge Middle Schools: 2010, spoke to four Woodbridge District Middle Schools :

February 15, 2010


Dear Mrs. Lisa Athan,


The students of Woodbridge Township Middle Schools and myself would like to thank you for your intriguing and motivating “Grief Speaks” presentations.  It was a treat having you speak to our sixth graders about such important topics as, divorce, moving, coping with loss, death, healthy ways to grieve, bullying, diversity, safe adults, and friendships.  In today’s society so many of our students are experiencing more and more of these challenges  at a young age, it is important for them to learn how to handle these pressures in a healthy manner.

                   After reading over the sixth grade writing responses, I was impressed to see how many students have now found a “safe” adult that they can talk to, both in and out of school.  I was also happy to hear how many students used the coping tools you provided them with.  One student knocked on my door to share with me that he decided to write a letter to his grandfather that had recently passed, and we read it together out loud, what a huge stress relief for him.  Other students commented that no one had ever spoken to them about moving, and how being the “new kid” can be really hard and intimidating.  As a Student Assistance Counselor, I was happy that you were able to reach out to them and share with them that certain feelings are “normal” and are expected throughout their personal lives.  Much of the student population that I work with has witnessed their parents separate or divorce, which creates a lot of mixed feelings, anger being a common one.  Students didn’t realize that it is Ok to feel angry; it’s what you do with that anger that can be therapeutic or damaging.  Your assemblies reassured them that there are healthy ways to vent and cope, as well as be a good friend to others.   

Lisa, thank you for your wonderful Grief Speaks presentations to both our students and faculty.  Our faculty and I learned new therapeutic tools to help better assist our students in time of crisis. 





Ms. Christine Internicola

Christine Internicola

Woodbridge Township Middle Schools

Student Assistance Counselor



When:    TUESDAY, APRIL 27, 2010 CHOOSE THE TIME THAT’S BEST FOR YOU!!! Morning presentation: 9:30 – 11:00 a.m.
Presbyterian Church of Chatham Township Southern Boulevard
Evening presentation: 7:30- 9:00 p.m.

Chatham High School Auditorium
Presenter:    LISA ATHAN, M.A. What you will learn:
    How to help your teens be resilient in difficult times *    How to know when your child needs extra support     Tools to encourage positive communications under stress  *   How to help your child deal with losses (friends, relationships, family
members, divorce, etc) If you have any questions about this program, contact Sandy Smith, Student Assistance Coordinator, School District of the Chathams, at 973-457-2536 or ssmith@chatham-nj.org

Words from a parent and PTA executive board member: "Lisa is 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.

Words from elementary school students:  "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."    "You have shown me some ways to get my frustrations out. Thank you for teaching us about grief." "I 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."                                                          
Words from High School Students:

"I never knew how to react to my friend's father's death. Now I know it is important to say that I am sorry. Listening to your heartfelt talk, made me realize that it is okay to express my emotions with my friends and to seek help when necessary.  It was the best assembly I've ever been in. Thank you so much for teaching such important information."   NJ high school senior

"You helped me realize that although I haven't had anyone die, I am facing a loss anyway. I have an addiction and it is the hardest thing to deal with."

"A really good friend of mine cuts herself. Now I know I did the right thing by trying to get her help."

"This was very enlightening. I have a friend in school who just lost her father. For the past week I truly didn't know what to say to her. Thanks for this assembly, I am not able to be a good friend and comfort her by telling her how sorry I am about her losing her father."  high school senior

"This helped me a lot to understand my own feelings.  My grandpa died a few months ago and it was confusing to me. He lived in another country and I didn't see or talk to him much. I felt like I should have been more upset and grieved like my parents did. Your talk helped me to see that it is okay for me to feel the way I feel."  high school junior
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"You really helped us to understand so much about life and loss. You taught us many different ways to deal with our problems. Thank you."

"Thank you for coming. You were an extremely good speaker. You helped me to recognize that grief comes in many different forms. You gave a great talk and I think it should be given to the entire school. This is one of the most effective talks I have ever heard."


(973) 985-4503