2012 Conference - Speakers

Dianne Gray, Advocate, Speaker, Author and CEO

Friday Keynote: Saying YES to Life After Loss…Because Life Is Saying YES to YOU! At the age of nine, Dianne Gray became a “student of life and loss” following the sudden death of her then 39-year old father. Over the years, she watched closely as her mother, a then 32- year- old beautiful young woman, grappled with parenthood and the sifting of identity that often occurs simultaneously with loss. As Dianne grew, she saw her mother’s actions reflect a life long search for answers to the question, “How will I get through this?”

Little did Dianne know that the life lessons she learned about resiliency and “growing strong in broken places” would help her once again as she herself, turned 32. It was then, that her four-year old son, Austin, would be diagnosed with a rare, terminal neurodegenerative brain disorder. In the ten years that followed, Dianne’s own search for hope and positivity was challenged.

Join us as we hear how Dianne, now an award winning writer, documentary producer, and hospice industry CEO, took her journey of substantive loss and turned it into a life of growth and positivity and how you, too, can find seeds of continued love in your every day life by saying “Yes” to the opportunities that surround us all.

Bio: Dianne Gray is the President of Hospice and Healthcare Communications, an international consulting firm focused on furthering education initiatives and advocacy projects on all aspects of hospice, end-of-life and palliative care.

Dianne is a internationally recognized speaker, author and advocate on topics including national and global palliative care initiatives, communications issues surrounding medical ethical decision making, opioid use in pediatrics and physician/family communications as well as her own personal journey of her family’s ten year pediatric hospice/palliative care experience with her son, Austin, who died in February, 2005 as a result of a rare neurodegenerative brain disorder. She is a catalyst for change who continues to be “at the bedside” with families going through the end of life care journey with their own living and dying children. As well, Dianne speaks on behalf of the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation, sharing Elisabeth’s messages of living a full life, the importance of honest communication with the dying and the necessity of accessibility to adequate pain management for all individuals globally, as part of any quality palliative care program.

Dianne also acts as an advocate, educator and business consultant, helping hospice and palliative care organizations around the world to grow their services to children with life limiting illnesses through the sharing of resources or through the provision of sound development and best practice information.

Saturday Keynote Speaker

Cheryl Eckl, Author, Speaker, and Transformational Life Coach

Saturday Keynote: Transforming Deep Loss into Power, Meaning & Peace. Pre-modern cultures knew how to deal with their grief. They gathered as community. They keened their dead. They danced and sang, drank, laughed, and cried together. And they fully embodied their loss as a natural part of life.

We “moderns” may have largely lost that way of mourning, but dynamic speaker and author, Cheryl Eckl, believes that grief can still be a healing force—if we embrace its wise and transformative guidance.

In this compelling address, Cheryl explores the grief journey as a pilgrimage of self-discovery. She also previews “The LIGHT Process”™—five powerful questions that emerged from her own experience with profound loss. Don’t miss this modern approach to bereavement that taps into ancient practices for achieving power, meaning, and peace in the next phases of your life.

Presentation #1: Making Light of Change: Moving Powerfully Through Loss. The grieving process is one of nature’s secret weapons—because in our helplessness we become malleable. It’s the “giving up” part that is so important. Sadly, most people want to speed through that feeling of ambiguity, but there is another way. In this hands-on exploration of Cheryl Eckl’s “The LIGHT Process”™ you will learn to consider loss as creative opportunity while you begin to discover your own unique path to meaning and soulful presence in the world.
You Will Learn:

  • The fastest way to a new beginning
  • A five-step process for working through profound loss
  • How your unique perspective has prepared you for loss and change
  • How to stay afloat in the rough waters of adversity
  • How to tap the inner creativity you may not think you have
  • A balanced approach to staying in tune with your own inner wisdom

Presentation #2: Journaling as a Grief Healing Strategy. Journaling is as simple as making a list or as complex as preparation for writing a memoir. Journaling is a safe, confidential, convenient strategy for expressing feelings, thoughts, regrets and dreams. Journaling has been proven to be one of the most effective methodologies for grief healing as well as clinical improvement in asthma and depression. In this workshop you will:

  • Recognize at least 5 benefits to journaling
  • Identify at least 5 types of journals
  • Do at least 3 journal writings in this session
  • Learn how to ‘harvest’ your journal for insight and understanding

Bio: Cheryl Eckl began her career as a singer, dancer, and musical comedy actress with a focus on improvisation. She spent over 25 years supporting and training leaders in a variety of industries, and for the past 15 years has run her own business as a professional development trainer and transformational life coach.

Since her husband’s death from colon cancer in 2008, Cheryl has become passionate about helping others who are facing bereavement from dramatic loss. Using her own life experience, she gives courageous voice to the process of grieving as she compassionately inspires those who are coping with life’s most difficult challenges.

Described as “calm, yet energetic, self-revealing, inclusive, and comprehensive,” Cheryl delivers her practical wisdom with empathy, intelligence, and a profound understanding of the human heart. She is the author of A Beautiful Death: Facing the Future with Peace and A Beautiful Grief: Reflection on Letting Go. She writes prolifically about end-of-life and grief issues on her blogs at A Beautiful Death.net and “A Beautiful Grief” at Psychology Today.com. She holds a master’s certificate in Transpersonal Psychology and lives in Colorado.

Dr. Karissa Greving Mehall, Faculty Member,Arizona State University, School of Social and Family Dynamics

Presentation: Grief and Family Dynamics. When a spouse dies, the whole family experiences grief in various ways. Each family member may respond differently as the family adjusts, copes with the loss, and creates the new family norm. This presentation will explore the intersect between grief and family dynamics. We will address the influence that family dynamics can have on the grieving process, as well as how the grieving process can impact the family. Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in activities that will help them identify and explore such impacts and healthy ways to address, adapt, or accept accordingly.

Bio: Dr. Karissa Greving Mehall is the Co-Director and clinical lecturer for the Masters of Advanced Studies in Marriage and Family Therapy Program (designed to train practitioners who desire to practice Marriage and Family Therapy) at Arizona State University for the School of Social and Family Dynamics. She is also the clinical director and supervisor for the Arizona Marriage and Family Therapy Clinic in Chandler, Arizona and has been clinically working with individuals, couples, and families for approximately 11 years. Dr. Greving Mehall has presented information on children, couples, and families at local, national and international workshops and conferences. Dr. Greving Mehall currently serves as the President of the Arizona Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

Chef Rachel Albert

Presentation: Cooking for One: How to Make it Easier! You want healthy food. You want it to taste great. You’re cooking for one. Where do you start? How do you fit cooking into your busy life? In this session Chef Rachel will share successful strategies she has fine tuned, followed, and shared with her clients and cooking students for more than two decades.

You Will Learn:

  • How to choose the most nutrient dense foods
  • Where to buy the freshest produce
  • Where to buy the highest quality fish, poultry, meat, and eggs
  • How to economize without compromising your health
  • The do’s and don’ts of using recipes
  • How to plan meals and store leftovers for future use
  • The top 10 kitchen tools you need to have
  • How to turn your refrigerator into a healthy salad bar and gourmet deli

You’ll take home tips, practical tip sheets, and a few sample recipes to get you started.

Bio: Rachel Albert (formerly Rachel Albert-Matesz) has been a natural foods chef, cooking instructor, freelance food and health writer, cooking coach, and speaker for 25 years. She has led 1000+ cooking classes in seven states, and more than 300 of her articles have appeared in national magazines and regional papers. She developed 130 recipes for two books by best-selling author Barry Sears, co-authored the award-winning book, The Garden of Eating: A Produce-Dominated Diet and Cookbook with Don Matesz, wrote The Ice Dream Cookbook: Dairy-Free Ice Cream Alternatives with Gluten-Free Cookies, Compotes & Sauces, and has a set of two cooking DVDs called Cooking with Whole Foods.

Rachel lives in Phoenix, Arizona. She leads group and private cooking classes, cooking parties, dinner parties, and healthy shopping tours, coaches clients in their kitchens and by phone, speaks to groups about healthy eating and has appeared regularly on local TV shows in Phoenix. She is on the faculty at the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts in Tempe, AZ, and also teaches at Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix and in private homes.

Known for her passion and expertise, Rachel is dedicated to inspiring healthy choices and showing how great taste and good nutrition can go hand in hand. She aims to awaken your inner chef and enhance your appreciation of the nourishing power of natural foods. If you don’t like “healthy” foods, you haven’t tried Chef Rachel’s recipes. Check out her blog for great recipes, book and product reviews, and tips: www.TheHealthyCookingCoach.com

Karla Kay, Grief Advisor, Coach, Author, Educator, & Public Speaker

Presentation #1: Visitors from the Heart. A glimpse to the other side. Yes, I crossed over with my husband and daughter and I was told it was not my time. I had to come back; there was more on this earth for me to do. After they died I felt as though I could feel them, see them, and smell them. I knew they were close, yet I could not touch them and I wanted confirmation. I got my confirmation from Allison DuBois, a well known author and Medium. Allison’s true story was based on the well known TV show Medium. She has taught me a lot over the years, and my story is in her book We Are Their Heaven. Through my connection and knowing Allison I have developed very strong communication with my angels. Most of my clients often feel like they are going crazy or don’t have anyone to share what they are experiencing. Let’s come together to celebrate the lives of our departed loved ones and discover your hidden intuition through the thin veil of the hereafter.

Presentation #2: Compassionate Heart Yoga. Bring restoration and rejuvenation into your life through a peaceful approach with Compassionate Heart Yoga. I have created this yoga to be uniquely designed to cater to those who are experiencing grief in their life. Take time for yourself to go within, connect with your emotions of loss, and find release through being at one with your mind, body and spirit. With this heart-centered practice I will guide you through gentle poses on a moving meditation to heal and renew yourself. Find your breath again, open your heart through postures, let go of your thoughts through relaxation of the mind. This class is for any age or size and no need for flexibility. Please wear comfortable clothing in which you can easily move.

Bio: Karla has a private practice as a Grief Advisor and Coach. For almost twenty years Karla has been in the field of grief beginning in 1995 working in Hospice as an In-Patient Unit Manager for several years. In 2003 she was in a rollover accident that killed three people. Everyone on the right hand side of the vehicle died including her husband, youngest daughter, and the best friend of Karla’s oldest daughter who survived.

In 2004 she founded Safe Harbor Support a non-profit organization to aid families and loved ones coping with sudden death. Karla has also volunteered for Crisis Response Teams and for the Maricopa Sheriff’s office supporting families as they received the tragic news of the death of a family member. She has worked with the Arizona Donor Network and conducted workshops for the Arizona Prosecutors Victim Advocates Team. Karla has advised DPS to expand their understanding of grief and the importance of compassion when delivering death notifications. She continues to provide in-service education to police officers, fire chiefs, and medical professionals. A National Certified Life Coach and public speaker on the subject of grief and the healing process Karla has created and established a training program for individuals to become Grief Mentors. Karla is a Certified Bikram Yoga Teacher and the author of Grief the Universal Emotion of Loss. She has her Masters in the experience of Grief, Loss and Trauma. Karla authors a blog about the paradigm shift in grief through her website at www.karlakay.us.

Dr. Timothy Gerhart and Gina Day CHC

Presentation: Healing the Digestive System. One can eat all the healthy food in the world but if the digestive system is compromised, the nutrients from healthy foods are not properly absorbed by the digestive system. Join us for this very informative talk by Dr. Gerhart with a Q&A session regarding the importance of proper nutrition at the cellular level that will be easy to understand. Discover the connection between our brain and gut and how illnesses and health conditions such as arthritis, autoimmune diseases, heart disease, brain fog, dementia, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, etc. can be erased or dramatically reduced.

Gina will present a visual experience to healthy cooking. She will teach you which foods to eat, how to quickly prepare them, how to freeze and store them and how to eat them so they help heal the gut lining and intestines. Also enjoy a sample of fresh vegetable/fruit juice…your taste buds will be amazed!

The ultimate goal is to reduce inflammation in the body so it can do what it is designed to do…heal itself and allow one to age more gracefully. Hand-outs and simple recipes to jump start your digestive health care program will be provided.

Dr. Timothy Gerhart’s Bio: Dr. Timothy C. Gerhart, D.C., D.A.B.C.I., Dipl. Ac. is a Board-certified Chiropractic Internist and Chiropractic Physician utilizing a natural LifeStyle-based approach that works to help each patient reach their individual goals. He has advanced training and extensive experience in helping patients as well as teaching other physicians in blood laboratory testing, acupuncture and energy therapies, nutritional supplements, herbs, homeopathic remedies, gentle adjustments of spine, foot, ankle, knee, wrist, elbow, and shoulders, Pulse Magnetic Field Therapy (PMT) and low-level laser for healing, inflammation, and pain relief, hormone, vitamin, and mineral testing, lab evaluation of cellular energetics underlying fatigue and chronic illness, answering some of the “why” questions behind pain, illness and unwellness, advanced adhesion/scar tissue release techniques, and working with dental, medical, and other care providers. He and his staff have been helping patients since 1983 at Renovare Clinic for 21 years in Minnesota and the past eight years in Arizona at Renovare Clinic and Renovare Wellness By Design. For more information visit: WellnessByDesignPro.com.

Gina’s Bio: Gina Day is a Certified Health Coach and Certified EFT Practitioner with a focus on healthy food and healthy thoughts. She lives and practices in the Phoenix area. Using her 20+ years of manufacturing engineering experience, she applies practical tips to teach clients and groups how to quickly prepare nutritionally dense meals within their budget. Gina graduated from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in 2011 but her passion for healthy foods started at age 10 when she began reading food labels and questioning ingredients.

When her seven year old son was diagnosed with ADHD in 2002 and the US medical industry’s solution was to medicate him, she took him to a pediatrician in Hong Kong who told her wheat and gluten was like morphine to her son’s system. This began Gina’s quest of cooking a gluten-free diet that he could enjoy. Her dedication to her son fueled her passion to learn more and now Gina helps others improve their health and live happier lives. She has first-hand experience in understanding the epidemic of health conditions that are plaguing our country with conditions such as ADHD, allergies, asthma, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and IBS. For more information visit GinaDay.com.

Candice Courtney, Author

Presentation: Healing Rituals on Grief’s Journey. Ritual is woven into the fabric of our lives, and supports us in more ways than we realize. Losing a beloved partner affects all of life’s rituals, and suddenly many of them become sources of additional trauma rather than support. Yet, if these rituals are further modified to embrace a griever’s needs, they can once again offer meaningful support.

In this session, we will look at daily rituals, such as mealtime and bedtime, as well as the silly and beautiful rituals that are often a part of special relationships. Many of life’s rituals can be altered so that they create small healing places for those grieving a loss. You will discover a number of ways you can apply this to your life.

We will also explore new rituals that offer specific support to widowed persons. This is important because there are new markers in life, and new needs to be acknowledged and honored. Attendees will not only gain insight into their journey through grief, but will discover ways to nurture and support themselves along the way.

Bio: Since 1995, Ms. Courtney has performed more than 200 custom ceremonies for weddings, funerals, and other life passages. She’s also given workshops on reclaiming the deeper meanings in our holiday traditions. Her study of ritual in diverse cultures has informed her understanding of the essential -– if sometimes unnoticed -– role ritual plays throughout our lives.

After the death of her husband from a brain tumor, Ms. Courtney drew upon her background in ritual to support those fighting an illness or grieving a loss. She gives workshops and presentations for patients and professionals, as well as speaking at national conferences, including the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) and the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC).

Ms. Courtney’s articles on coping with serious illness and grief have appeared in publications nationally, and her first book has just been released, Healing Through Illness, Living Through Dying: Guidance and Rituals for Patients, Families and Friends. She is currently writing a book of rituals to support those mourning a loss.

Cameron Svendsen,LCSW

Presentation: Finding Peace, Pleasure and Purpose In the Story of Your Life. This presentation encourages participants to consider and craft the way they would most want to be remembered. Through contemplation of life’s universal enjoyments, we can begin to acknowledge what we have already accomplished and what we have yet to “check off” our bucket list. This practice will aid in construction of what could be the most important bit of proof that we lived: our legacy.

Bio: Cameron Svendsen is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) with over 25 years experience in the geriatric industry. He was a social worker for the Sun Health Corporation at both Boswell and Del Webb hospitals for 10 years. Four years ago he joined Hospice of Arizona’s marketing team as a Provider Relations Coordinator and quickly found that the largest challenge hospice providers face is that the service remains underutilized and greatly misunderstood.

In July 2011 he accepted a position as Director of Education and Advocacy for American Hospice and Hospice of Arizona. This position afforded him the opportunity to develop and present original programs that influenced a wider audience base regarding the current breadth of hospice and palliative care services in this country. He is now the Director of Education for the AH Hospice Foundation, the non-profit arm of American Hospice, whose mission is to foster awareness of a service that provides the highest quality of life for patients at the end of life.

Stephanie Bivens, J.D.,C.E.L.A.

Presentation: Top Scams & Tips to Protect Yourself. Discussion of the top scams in Arizona, the particular vulnerabilities of widows, and how you can protect yourself from becoming a victim. Remarriage and what you need to know.

Bio: Ms. Bivens is a Phoenix native who graduated cum laude from Arizona State University College of Law in 1996. Ms. Bivens’ professional memberships include the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), Probate and Trust, and Mental Health and Elder Law sections of the State Bar of Arizona, the Estate Planning and Probate Section of the Maricopa County Bar Association, and The Arizona Chapter of NAELA.

In addition, Ms. Bivens is a past Chair of the Mental Health and Elder Law Executive Council of the State Bar of Arizona. Ms. Bivens is a frequent speaker on elder law issues for the State Bar of Arizona and Maricopa County Bar Association. Ms. Bivens serves on the Public Policy Committee of the Arizona Chapter of NAELA.

Rabbi David Rosenberg

Presentation: Spirituality Series – Judaism, Grief & Loss.

Bio: Rabbi Rosenberg comes to us from Portland, Oregon where he served for six years as senior rabbi of Congregation Shaarie Torah, a traditional synagogue. Prior to that he was the Rabbi of Temple Isaiah in Newport Beach, California for five years. He was born in Kfar Saba Israel and came to the United States with his family as a young boy. His father and both of his grandfathers were rabbis. The Rabbi began his rabbinical training at Gateshead Yeshiva in England studying with some of their leading Jewish scholars. He also studied at Tels Yeshiva in Chicago and received his degree in religious studies from the University of California at Riverside. Rabbi Rosenberg is fluent in Hebrew and Yiddish and has studied ancient Near Eastern languages. He maintains his own 4500 volume Judaica library. He is an accomplished teacher of both children and adults and has taught a wide variety of Jewish subjects including Torah and Talmud study. Rabbi Rosenberg has taught classes at the University of Portland and other Oregon colleges. He served as President of the Oregon Board of Rabbis for two years and he has a proven track record as a community builder actively engaging in dialogue with the leaders of various faiths.

Stacey Nseir, RN,PhD(C)

Presentation: Tai Chi Easy. After the loss of a spouse, taking care of ourselves is usually on the bottom of the “To Do” list. Tai Chi Easy (a simplified form of Tai Chi/Qigong) is a low-impact activity that is relaxing, soothing and…well…easy! In this session learn how to unleash your body’s own healing medicine and give yourself a well-deserved break. If you are a first-timer or an experienced master, come join this session and come experience the “chi”.

Bio: Stacey is a certified Tai Chi Easy practice leader and a PhD Candidate at Arizona State University in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation. She has been a registered nurse for over 20 years and is specializing in gerontology and thanatology with an emphasis on health promotion. Stacey’s dissertation study titled “A Feasibility Study of Tai Chi Easy for Spousally Bereaved Older Adults” is being conducted in various parts of Maricopa County. As a Hartford Geriatric scholar, she has been involved with various community projects such as the state of Arizona’s Alzheimer’s task force work team and Arizona Falls Coalition. One of Stacey’s major goals is to enhance the quality of life by empowering people to live healthy, active lifestyles.

Clare Goldsberry, Student and Teacher, Clear Light Buddhist Center and Rio Salado Community College’s RISE program.

Presentation #1: Spirituality Series – Buddhism, Grief & Loss. Synopsis of Buddhism’s Philosophy of Death, the Afterlife and Rebirth. In Buddhism, birth and death are two sides of the same coin and learning to live a life with freedom from fear is one key to having a ‘good’ death or one without fear. Why do we fear death? Why do we grieve so much when others die? What does Buddhism say about reincarnation/rebirth and future lives? Where do we go when we die? What continues after death? Do Buddhists believe in a “soul”? What role does the Mind play in life and death? Buddhism offers much in the way of understanding life and death and can give us peaceful Minds as we experience the loss of the manifestation of a loved one.

Presentation #2: Guided Buddhist Meditation: Pre-meditation discussion on why we meditate, what we try to do when meditating, some tips for successful meditation, and how the breathing meditations can help us to achieve a calm and peaceful mind. Theory is then put into practice through a guided meditation session. This class will be beneficial for beginners and experienced meditators. No need to bring pillows or mats. Chairs work just fine!

Bio: Clare Goldsberry is a student and teacher of Buddhist philosophy at Clear Light Buddhist Center in Phoenix and at Rio Salado Community College’s RISE program in Surprise. She has been a Buddhist practitioner for nearly 20 years. As a professional freelance writer Clare has written about her personal journey of helping her significant other of ten years go through his dying process and his eventual death from cancer eight years ago.

Father Charles “Charlie” Parker, Retired, Diocese of Phoenix

Presentation: Spirituality Series – Catholicism, Grief & Loss. This session will address the importance of faith, the value of prayer, remembering the Eucharist as a time when living and the dead are united, and reflection on the Communion of Saints. How guilt may block a person’s release and the importance of forgiveness. God is of us and us of each other. Father Charlie will be available before and/or after the session to address individual concerns.

Bio: Father Charles Parker, or Father Charlie as he is often known, is a retired priest of the Diocese of Phoenix. Having served in various parishes as associate and pastor, he has dealt with the grief and pain of people of all ages. He was often faced with families in traumatic situations during a ten year period when he served as a chaplain at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center. Serving for several years in oncology, and the entire period in Barrow’s neurological Center, he was called upon to minister to people of all religions as well as those who professed to have none. Father Charlie has experienced and officiated at the funeral Masses of his own father, mother, brother, and participated in the memorial service of his only nephew. Therefore he can also speak about grief from a personal perspective.

Ellen Gerst, Grief and Relationship Coach

Presentation: Love After Loss – Writing the Rest of Your Story. Through a combination of interactive coaching conversations and real-life stories that underscore the “rules and tools” for developing healthy and successful relationships, attendees of this session will be presented with a workable blueprint for redesigning their future to include a new love connection. Participants will receive the tools to help develop insight into the “single you”; to identify available choices for dating and relationship development; and to design an action plan that will allow them to find the love they want.

Bio: Ellen Gerst is a grief and relationship coach who draws upon both her professional expertise and the lessons born from her own experience as a young widow to help her clients successfully travel the road from grief to renewal. She works with her clients to help them maneuver through the maze of grief while exploring the spiritual, emotional, physical and mental aspects of this journey. She is the author of several books on both subjects and gives tips every day on coping with grief and finding love after loss online on two popular Facebook pages.

Patricia Dobratz JD, LMFT, Clinic Coordinator, Arizona Marriage and Family Therapy Clinic

Presentation: Grief and the LGBQ Community. Losing a loved one creates a number of concerns for those left behind. Within the LGBQ community there may be additional concerns to attend to such as how to cope when the relationship was closeted, lack of additional supports, stressors created by legal constraints, etc. Participants will develop tools for the next phase of their journey and discuss and learn ways to address their own grieving process and the potential unique concerns within the LGBQ community.

Bio: Patricia Dobratz is the clinic coordinator and a clinical supervisor at the Arizona Marriage and Family Therapy Clinic, where affordable services are made available to individuals, couples, and families. She is an associate faculty member at Arizona State University. Patricia has a diverse background in psychology, education, law, and marriage and family therapy. She is currently the Ombudsman for the Arizona Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, as well as the contributor coordinator for the AzAMFT Fall Conference.

Gabriela Ciuca, Om Design and Expressive Arts Therapist in Training

Presentation: Healing and Well-being with Expressive Arts. Whenever illness or grief is associated with the loss of soul, the arts emerge spontaneously to heal it. Expressive Arts is a human service profession that utilizes art media, images, collages and color with therapeutic means. Expressive Arts reconciles emotional conflicts, improves social skills, reduces anxiety, adds reality orientation and increases self-esteem. Work in the arts provides access to emotions, experiences and insights not often reached through traditional psychological practices. Recent studies in the field of split brain functioning and psychoneuroimmunology verify that art can affect individuals positively, inducing both psychological and physiological healing. In this workshop you will learn how Art keeps you going. The hands-on experiences in this workshop will take you on the quiet intimate journey of Mandala creation to the healing effects of collage. We will wrap up with a discussion of your experience with Art Therapy healing.

Bio: Gabriela has a Bachelor’s in Art History and spends most of her life around the arts. She worked in a European museum becoming familiar with conservation techniques and organizing and designing art exhibitions. Gabriela graduates this December with a Master’s degree in Counseling and Expressive Arts and an emphasis in Gerocounseling. Gabriela worked with diverse groups at a Scottsdale senior center, developed a relaxation program using techniques in healing with arts for burn patients at Maricopa County Hospital, and works with special needs and autistic children. She is a student of Za Choeje Riponche, spiritual director of Emaho Buddhist Center, practicing High Yoga Tantra for several years. The underground river of arts carried Gabriela to a judgment-free, compassionate, loving and caring life. Gabriela is a cancer survivor and holds a Master level in Reiki.

Frank Sama, Bishop, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

Presentation: Spirituality Series – Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Grief and Loss. This presentation will focus on how “Latter Day Saints” have been given a Plan of Salvation which enables us to understand where we came from, why we are here, and where we will go after we pass this earthly condition. The meaning of death and eternal families will be discussed. Bishop Sama will be available for questions and answers at the end of his presentation and also at the conference.

Bio: Bishop Frank Sama belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS). He was a professional educator for 36 years with 19 of those years as a teacher and as a principal for the remainder. Bishop Sama’s last position included managing 1200 students and over 100 employees in a K-8 environment. As Bishop of a Senior Citizen Ward a great deal of his time is spent dealing with the sick and performing funerals. Part of his job is to provide comfort to the members of the family of the deceased member. The LDS church has a unique view of death and for this reason we are able to work through the grieving period that people experience.

Paula Stone, Author

Presentation: What Widows Want. This presentation is designed to help you, the widow or widower, educate and put resources into the hands of those closest to you such as your friends, family, and coworkers, so they can appreciate what you are going through and learn how best to support you. The following issues will be discussed:

  • What does a widow/widower look like?
  • Opinions about and misconceptions of widows/widowers.
  • What others say that is so wrong or why they say nothing when encountering a widow or widower.
  • The six reasons behind saying or doing the wrong thing include lack of education, fear, feeling uncomfortable, fear of the widowed person breaking down emotionally, fear of them breaking down, time commitment and the time which has passed since the death.
  • Acknowledging the deceased.
  • Time has nothing to do with it.
  • Resources – the book, cards, organizations, and support groups.

Bio: Paula was widowed in 2005 when her husband, Ed, suffered a heart attack at age 55 while at home alone. Through the struggles of losing not only her husband and business partner but finding out there were no life insurance benefits, Paula like so many widows suffered tremendous ups and downs. As she began to meet and talk with other widows about their struggles she wondered why so many non-widowed people didn’t understand what they were going through and why they didn’t offer to help. After sending out several hundred questionnaires and compiling the stories of other widowed women (and a few men), she decided to write a simple ‘how to’ book so that family and friends can understand what widows are going through and how they can help. Paula currently speaks to family, friends, professionals and widows throughout the country. Her book as well as the greeting cards she developed and wrote are the tools she hopes most people will use as a source of support for the widow.

Nicole Gurley, CLTC

Presentation: Long-Term Care – Who Will Take Care of Me? Americans are living longer. The longer we live the greater the chance that we will experience a long-term care event. Without a plan for care and a plan to cover the cost of care, we turn our family members into caregivers and spend assets planned to provide retirement income. The cost of long-term care is now a significant threat to financial security in retirement. Planning for this expense is now an important part of overall financial planning. The need for long-term care expense planning is especially important to the widowed community who has a greater need to be able to pay for care provided by formal caregivers.

Bio: After 20 years in executive positions with healthcare, financial services and insurance corporations, Nicole Gurley founded Gurley LTCI (Long-Term Care Insurance) in 2002. She has been a licensed insurance producer since 1998 and focuses exclusively on long-term care expense planning and appropriate insurance solutions. Licensed throughout the country, Nicole holds the CLTC (Certification in Long-Term Care) designation, is a certified continuing education instructor, and assists financial advisors with long-term care expense planning. Nicole earned a Bachelor of Arts in Management and is the past chairman the Financial Planning Association of Greater Phoenix.

B.Roxanne May, Author

Presentation: Practical Answers to Everyday Questions. Everyone is busy. Everyone had their “roles” in their marriage. Being newly widowed, you might find yourself not understanding how your spouse did simple tasks. If you are looking for instructions and tips on home care, this is it. This session will cover the practical methods for cooking and cleaning. We’ll cover basic skills like how to fry an egg and how to do laundry without ruining your clothing. Need to know the basics of shopping for clothes? How about first aid, pet care, and taking care of plants? What about entertaining guests and proper etiquette? Then there are all those remote controls, electronic gadgets, kitchen tools, and vacuum cleaners. How do I use and maintain these things? This session will be open format, meaning we want to hear from you what challenges and issues you are dealing with. The session will be tailored to your needs.

Bio: My mother died from pancreatic cancer in three short weeks after being diagnosed. I stayed on at my father’s house for two weeks after the funeral to help him take care of details such as cancelling credit cards, sending out thank you notes, and to help him adjust to living alone. Planning a week’s worth of meals and how to shop for groceries was the starting point. Broiled salmon was the first simple meal I taught him. About then I realized I didn’t need two weeks, I needed several months! What about laundry, my mother’s garden and plants, recipes, what to do with my mother’s things, cleaning the house, feeding the cat and what all the items in the kitchen are for? All this was running through my head and my poor dad was grieving as well! Would he even remember much of anything I was showing him? I looked in bookstores for that one book which would explain the basics. None were to be found. What I did find were many books, each covering just one topic, and most of them sounded like they were geared to teach children, not grown men and women. These widowers needed one resource they can go to and learn about the practical and basic areas of life. The Practical Widower, an online resource and future book, was born out of this experience.

Michele Royan

Presentation: Parenting the Grieving Child. Development stages of childhood grief. Death is a life altering event for any family. Grieving families with children often struggle with many issues and profound changes. Parents of grieving children find themselves trying to work through their own grief while trying to understand the grief of their children. Parenting a grieving child, while grieving yourself is certainly one of life’s most difficult challenges. This session will assist the participants in understanding how children grieve from a developmental perspective and identify parenting ideas to meet this unique heart wrenching challenge. Creative parenting techniques and story-telling will be utilized throughout.

Bio: Michele has been a guidance counselor for over fifteen years, most recently with All Saints’ Episcopal Day School. She focuses on helping parents develop their skills to handle children’s behavior and to put the fun back into family life. Michele loves leading parents on a journey which helps them realize the values and attributes they want to pass on to their children and how they can be the family they want to be. She helps parents raise children through modeling confidence, self-reliance, self-esteem and humor to reach their full potential. She teaches very practical skills to encourage cooperation, ensure good relationships between parent and child and manage challenging behavior.

Michele has a Master’s degree in Child Clinical Psychology and was trained by the Love and Logic Institute in January of 2003. She has been facilitating the course ever since as well as facilitating family workshops for 6 Seconds, the Social/Emotional Intelligence network and for Top 20-Parents, students and teachers. She has been working with families in the Valley since moving here in 2005 from Cleveland, Ohio where she was Director of Counseling at the Hathaway Brown School. Michele has also been a grief facilitator with New Song Center for Grieving Children under the umbrella of Hospice of the Valley.

Ashley Royal, MAS-MFT, LAMFT

Presentation: Healing Severe Complicated, Traumatic Grief. Moving through the grieving process is never easy. However, there are times when a death can be so painful that we feel we will never get through it to a place of resolution or find peace again. At those times, we can remain helplessly stuck in Complicated Grief unable to move on. Complicated grief is a severe prolonged form of grief that can result for numerous reasons: such as, when the death is very sudden and leaves no time for preparation, or involves extremely tragic circumstances such as the death of a child, a suicide, a murder, also, medical mistakes ending in death that may involve legal battles, or the death of someone on whom we depended for every thing and without whom we feel can not go on. All of these can be so devastating that a person withdraws, gives up, isolates, cannot stop thinking of the loss and remains trapped in grief, feeling hopeless and often suicidal. This workshop will look at gender differences and attachment theory as they relate to complicated grief, will provide both an understanding of why complicated traumatic grief occurs and will provide a practical, effective approach with strategies for helping grievers with complicated grief navigate their way through to resolution.

Bio: Ashley Royal is the Clinical Supervisor at Arizona’s Children Association, a non-profit behavioral health agency serving minor children and their families in Chandler, Arizona. Prior to accepting her supervisory position with Arizona’s Children, Ashley worked as a clinical therapist for the agency, treating a variety of presenting concerns, including grief and loss. Ashley also works as an associate clinician at the Arizona Marriage and Family Therapy Clinic serving individuals, couples and families. Ashley received her Master’s of Advanced Studies in Marriage and Family Therapy from Arizona State University in 2009 and went on to become a Licensed Associate Marriage and Family Therapist. Currently Ashley is serving as the Student and Associate Representative for the Arizona Association of Marriage and Family Therapy and has plans to continue to pursue her independent license and her work with grief and loss.

Joyce Vidal-Thornburg, MC, CT, Bereavement Counselor Resource Coordinator, Hospice of the Valley

Presentation #1: Self-Care – A Holistic Approach. We know that grief impacts emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually, and socially. Do we take care of ourselves in all these areas of our life? This presentation will be interactive as we explore together self-care activities and self-care plans to enhance the healing process.

Presentation #2: Dealing with the Holidays (Panel Discussion). As we approach the holiday season, many questions and emotions arise. Should I continue inviting family over for dinner and organizing our famous holiday party? Should I travel to “get away from it all.” What about the tree…he or she always decorated it. Can other family members take over certain tasks? I’m afraid to make changes…everyone has expectations of me. Emotionally can I deal with company when I just want to curl up in a ball and go away? How do I keep a positive memory of my spouse? Should I consider making a donation in his/her name? All these issues and more will be addressed during this two-person panel discussion. This topic will be presented to all attendees on Sunday immediately prior to the Remembrance Ceremony.

Presentation #3: Remembrance Ceremony. Right after the Dealing with the Holidays panel discussion all of us have the opportunity to participate in a Remembrance Ceremony which will close out the weekend conference. This is a chance for everyone to gather together to give thanks for their spouse’s presence among us, to grieve their death, to affirm the ongoing love we have for them, to honor their lives, and to rejoice in the gifts they have shared with us. The Ceremony consists of poem readings, several musical selections, and the reading of the names of spouses who passed away.

Bio: Joyce has been a Bereavement Counselor & Resource Coordinator with Hospice of the Valley for seven years. She has a master’s degree in professional counseling and a Certification in Thanatology. In addition to individual and family counseling and facilitating an on-going open grief support group in Scottsdale, Arizona, Joyce also facilitates a number of specialty six-week support groups: Mother Loss, Picking up the Pieces in Midlife, Life Cycle Interrupted (adult child loss), Grief in the workplace, Self-Care and Compassion Fatigue, Enduring Ties Family Group, Next Chapters, and Complex Mourning. Joyce has also worked as an Employment Counselor and high school Guidance Counselor.

Ilene L.McCauley, J.D., LLM, Partner, Goldinov and McCauley, PLC, Scottsdale, Arizona

Presentation: Controlling your Life after Loss…The Legacy. One common feeling shared by all of us after death of a beloved spouse is bewilderment and loss of control. Our lives become one of continuous movement…getting from place to place, but we don’t remember how we got there. We go through the motions, but we have lost control. Many of us are alone for the first time. Many of us have loved ones, children and even animals to provide for; now, as suddenly single. This break out session will deal with the realities of this loss of control. We will address how to recognize the problems and work out the solutions, now that the once solid link in our chain is gone. We will talk about the steps we must take, the choices we must make and the implementation strategies to regain control over the legacy aspects of our lives.

Bio: Ilene is a member of the State Bar of Arizona and is certified as a Specialist in Tax Law by the Arizona Board of Legal Specialization. She has practiced tax, estate and business planning law for over 30 years. She was widowed in 2002 upon the death of her beloved husband John, after a very long illness. She is currently raising her daughter Amy, who is now 17, along with their dog Miriam, as a single parent.

Jim Schwartz, CFP®, Strategic Wealth Advisors, LLC and President, Widowed Community Education and Support Services, Inc.

Presentation #1: Smart Social Security Income Planning. Did you know that 74% of Americans start taking Social Security benefits at age 62. Depending on their situation, they could be leaving hundreds of thousands of dollars on the table over their lifetimes. This session will provide you with the basics of Social Security as it relates to survivor benefits. When should you start your benefits? Should you take your benefit first or your survivor’s benefit? How can you maximize your income? Does a future marriage affect your benefits? Can you collect double benefits? What is the File and Suspend strategy? How should Social Security income work into your overall income plan?:

Presentation #2: Years One and Two: Vital Financial & Tax Decisions Most widows and widowers are told not to make any large financial decisions during the first year (Year One). This may be true as a general rule of thumb, but it may not be true for your situation. We will cover the important financial and tax decisions which must be made in the first 12 months after the death of a spouse. There is a time limit on several decisions, significantly large opportunities may be lost by the end of the year. We will look at decisions during that first year which address money-saving IRA moves, risky assets and diversification, the 9-month rule for disclaiming assets, and many other time-sensitive decisions. After Year One the fog may lift and reality sets in. Year Two may involve taking a serious look at how you are situated financially and whether you have long-term financial security or how to achieve it if you don’t. This is less of a “triage” phase and more focus is put on longer-term planning. Learn the basics of getting organized financially, taking inventory of assets, debts, income, and expenses. Learn how to avoid the 10 common mistakes made by widows and widowers. Lastly we will cover the five key questions you must ask of your potential or current financial advisor. Without knowing the answer to these questions you may find yourself working with a salesperson instead of a competent professional advisor.

Bio: With over 14 years in the financial services industry, Jim is a Senior Advisor and Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) practitioner at Strategic Wealth Advisors, LLC in Scottsdale, Arizona. Prior to his financial career, Jim served as a fighter pilot in the US Air Force for twelve years where he flew A-10s and F-16s. He has more than forty combat missions over the skies of Iraq and Bosnia.

Jim earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Pennsylvania State University and completed his professional CFP® education through the College for Financial Planning. He is a member of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA). Jim has taught community college courses on various financial planning topics and he has been quoted in Money Magazine and The Arizona Republic and has been featured on ABC 15 News.

Jim realized that nearly half his clients were widowed and few had spoken of attending grief support groups or working with professional bereavement counselors. When trying to find local resources for his clients who recently lost a spouse or partner, Jim realized there might be a need for local peer-to-peer grief support groups and a multi-day conference. In 2010 Jim founded Widowed Community Education & Support Services, Inc. (WCESS), a nonprofit organization incorporated in Arizona. In October 2010 he started the first widowed-to-widowed grief support group in Tempe, Arizona and in January 2012 the second group was started in Scottsdale. Plans exist to add additional locations throughout the Valley. Jim is also the founder and organizer of the WCESS conference, Tools for the “New Normal” Journey.

Matt Montgomery, Mortgage Loan Originator

Presentation: Basics of Mortgages, Refinancing, and Credit. What do you need to do with your mortgage after losing your spouse? Should you refinance? Are legal changes needed? What if the mortgage is in your spouse’s name? How hard is it to qualify for a mortgage these days? What if you have little or no home equity? And many more topics. Plenty of time for questions and answers.

Bio: Matt is a licensed Mortgage Loan Originator for Marketline Mortgage, a family owned Mortgage Bank and Mortgage Broker in Scottsdale, Arizona. He graduated from Arizona State University in 1995 and has worked in a variety of disciplines in the Real Estate field including land investment, community planning, development & construction, and currently as a Residential Mortgage Lender.

Matt’s goal is to understand his client’s individual circumstances and priorities so that he can help them obtain the best financing solution for their personal situation. He enjoys speaking to individuals and groups about mortgage financing and has been a featured expert on ABC 15’s The Home Hunter show.

Barbara Joy, Ph.D. (ABD), MC, FT, Manager of Bereavement Services, Hospice Inspiris

Presentation: Grief and Loss – Dispelling Myths and Misinformation. Grief is the normal and natural reaction to loss. This program focuses on grief as society’s most neglected and misunderstood process. A discussion on society’s most off-limits topic of conversation (grief) followed by the definition of loss. The group will be invited to offer and identify potential losses, other than death. How society ill-prepares us to deal with loss. Resolving heart problems with our intellect – head vs. heart, intellect vs. emotions. Identification of intellectual comments that are the wrong tools to help the griever heal. A discussion on why others may not be able to help us. A detailed description of five common myths surrounding grief. How society teaches us to “act” recovered. Grief as emotional energy and illustrations as to what occurs when we “shut down” to grief. Negative cumulative effects of unresolved grief and how it affects our body and behavior. The bad news about short-term energy relieving behaviors. Resources and tools for help, healing, and relief.

Bio: In 1998 Barbara founded HeartSpace Adventures, providing an organizational structure for contracted services and private practice. She is an on-call grief specialist with the National Disaster Medical System, a federal agency providing emergency response and support. A former faculty member of the American Academy of Bereavement, Barbara traveled nationwide presenting seminars to professionals on topics of grief and loss, Ms. Joy was the first Director of Bereavement Services for SCI Arizona Funeral Services, Inc., administering a center offering community outreach programs to the public. She is Chairperson of the AHPCO Bereavement Discipline Community and is currently the Manager of Bereavement Services at Hospice Inspiris.

Tisha Diffie, Founder and CEO of After the Fact Final Affairs, LLC

Presentation: Before it Becomes After. You’ve updated your estate planning documents, medical directives, and beneficiaries, but, does your family know all the other details about your house and daily life? How are they going to know which bank your safety deposit box is at? Where you volunteer your time? What’s the first thing they should do? Who knows from where to pick-up the mail and at which box number? How to find the extra keys to the house and notify the right people when a problem arises. How do they access your voice mail at home or on your cell phone? The legal, tax and financial issues are talked about, but what about those other 197 items that the family will have to know in order to handle the final affairs of your estate? Would you like to give them the answers BEFORE something happens? This presentation provides you with guidance in securely preparing this information in one organized place.

Bio: Tisha has over 15 years experience as an independent fee-based Financial Planner. In 2009 she and husband Larry founded After the Fact – Final Affairs, LLC after she had to handle her 3rd estate closure. She saw that many other families needed assistance and had nowhere to turn. In 2010, she sold her financial planning practice to focus 100% on assisting other families that were overwhelmed with handling the final affairs of estate closure. She is a graduate of the College of Financial Planning and has held various securities and insurance licenses and many professional designations. She and Larry have a daughter in college and a son who is a senior in high school.

Ron Friesen, Licensed Professional Counselor

Presentation: Men’s Grief – Myths and Misconceptions. Common myths and misconceptions of men’s grief are discussed as well as strategies for helping men deal with their grief.

Bio: Ron Friesen is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Arizona. He has over 35 years experience working with grieving community members. Serving as a minister, a hospital and hospice chaplain and as a counselor, Ron has dealt with many grieving people individually and in groups. As a member of the Bereavement Training Team for the Diocese of Phoenix, he has trained hundreds of lay and professional pastoral ministers in the skills of bereavement ministry.

Rosie Romero Jr., Rosie On The House Radio Show Host

Presentation: Owning a Home – What Do I Need to Know to Keep it Operating? What do you need to know to successfully operate and maintain your home. The basics of your plumbing, electrical, and air conditioning systems and maintaining those systems. Circuit breakers, air filters, water softeners, r/o systems, and more. Home security is a big issue and Rosie will cover what you need to do to create a safe environment.

Bio: Rosie Romero is the host of Arizona’s No. 1 home improvement radio show. Rosie moved from the Lacassine Bayou of Louisiana to Arizona with his family when he was a young boy. He began working in the remodeling industry in 1972, and for 15 years, worked with a variety of contractors. He opened Legacy Custom Builders in 1988, and sold the majority of his stock to key employees in October 2002. In 2001, he was the first remodeler ever selected as a finalist in Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award. The same year, Rosie received the International Furnishings and Design Association’s Visionary Award of Excellence. In 1989, Rosie began his Rosie On The House radio show as a hobby. Since then, Rosie On The House has become a powerful home improvement resource and referral network. He is a nationally recognized speaker for the remodeling industry and travels regularly to share his knowledge of the business. Rosie and his wife, Sweet Jennifer, have six children born between 1981 and 1997. They spend much of their time exploring, boating and hiking Arizona.

Michael J.Malasnik, Healthcare Expert

Presentation: Reform and the BIG changes just around the corner. Michael will discuss the major changes that Health Reform will soon bring to Arizona and how they affect you: Guaranteed Issue Coverage, Premium Subsidies, Standardized Benefits, Navigators, The Health Insurance Exchange and much more. It is a whole New World starting in 2014, and what you don’t know may surprise you! Q&A to follow.

Bio: Michael is currently the Vice President of the Arizona Association of Health Underwriters and is working to shape the future of healthcare in Arizona. Having worked with government, public health and commercial insurance markets since 1996 he offers a unique and valuable insider perspective on the Arizona healthcare market and where it is headed. His most recent achievement was the creation of GetCoveredAZ.org, a central portal for all available healthcare resources in AZ that is helping residents find coverage that previously could not.

Chaplain Jeffrey P. Paparone, M.Div., Spiritual Care Coordinator, Hospice of Arizona

Presentation: Spirituality Series – The Judeo-Christian Perspective, Grief and Loss. From Bereave to Believe. This presentation will focus on how the Bible has been given as a Road Map to life, death, and the hope of a “New Normal”. Whether if you are a believer in the Bible or not, join us to explore the possibilities that are within the Holy Scriptures which enable us to understand there is life after the death of your loved one. Chaplain Jeff will be available for questions and answers at the end of his presentation; he will also be present during the conference for additional support and presence.

Bio: Chaplain Jeff Paparone was born and raised in North Canton, OH, home of the Hoover vacuum cleaner. Upon graduating from Hoover High School, he received his undergraduate degree in Community Health Education from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania in 1991. Chaplain Jeff was employed for almost five years at the Stark County (Canton, OH) Health Department employed as a Health Educator. He continued his career in health education as a National Field Organizer with the National SAFE KID Campaign in Washington, DC until 1998. Chaplain Jeff learned the importance of childhood injury prevention and consequently left Washington, DC and contracted with USAA Insurance as a member of the national leading team of educators responsible for implementing, training, and certifying instructors on child passenger safety (child safety seats). At this time, Chaplain Jeff met his wife, Christine, and married March 13, 1999. Although Chaplain Jeff was happy and content with his current career, God had a different plan. Chaplain Jeff and Christine were called to go to seminary to receive graduate training to become pastors. Both attended and graduated in May 2003 from Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky. Both embarked on a new career in Glendale, Arizona at the Glendale Light and Life Church. Chaplain Jeff and Christine then adopted two children, Charlie and Oscar, from Colombia, South America over a four year period. Chaplain Jeff is now employed as a full-time Spiritual Care Coordinator with Hospice of Arizona.

Sarah Taylor, MT-BC, Hearts for Hospice

Presentation/Bio: Sarah Taylor is a board certified music therapist and she will be entertaining us during the last portion of Friday lunch with her music. She graduated from Illinois State University with a bachelors degree in music therapy and completed her music therapy internship at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix, AZ. She has been working as a music therapist for Hearts for Hospice in Phoenix since September 2007. As a hospice music therapist, she uses music as a tool to improve quality of life for Hearts for Hospice patients, their families, and their caregivers.

Interested in speaking at or facilitating a group at our 2012 conference? If so, download the Speaker/Facilitator Volunteer Submission Form.

Speakers and Presentation topics are subject to change without prior notice.

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