5th Annual Living Memories Project Conference


4th Annual Living Memories Project Conference


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About the Living Memories Project

Meryl Ain embarked on The Living Memories Project, after she lost both her father and mother within 18 months. With her husband, Stewart, and her brother, Arthur M. Fischman, they set out to learn how others celebrated how their loved ones lived, rather than focusing on how they died.

The Living Memories Project details through interviews, anecdotes, essays, poems, photographs, and the many ways that both ordinary individuals and celebrities incorporate the presence of their departed loved ones into their lives. Some who have shared their stories describe instances when they strongly and viscerally felt their loved one’s presence, while others have drawn upon rituals or created a tangible memorial to comfort themselves.


The main objective of the conference is to empower participants with new tools for providing professional, competent, and compassionate care to those who are grieving or bereft.



9:00am—9:30am: Welcome Remarks


Lori Hardoon, LCSW, JASA Senior Director Palliative Care Supportive Services

Alan Cohen, MPA, JASA’s Chief Program Officer

9:30am—11:30am: Keynote Speaker: Dr. Abigail Nathanson, LCSW, APHSW-C, ACS

The Intersection of Trauma and Grief: Using Body-Based Trauma Theories to Inform Grief Work

Grief and trauma both encompass responses to a changed world, and attempts to restore a sense of self after a major loss or event. In this lecture, we'll examine where the lens of somatic-based approaches to trauma work can help us better understand grief responses, and develop more nuanced assessment and intervention of bereavement needs. Discussions will cover the impact of early attachment trauma on loss throughout the lifespan, understanding when our patients are exhibiting traumatic responses, and the hugely important role of psychoeducation in doing trauma-informed supportive counseling. The value of recognizing when to do trauma-informed supportive grief work and when a referral for a trauma therapist is necessary will also be explored.

Dr. Abigail Nathanson is a board-certified palliative social worker and trauma therapist in New York City. She teaches Grief, Loss and Bereavement at NYU and is the co-editor of the forthcoming book, The Practice of Clinical Social Work in Healthcare from Springer Press. Dr. Nathanson has a private practice, where she works with patients dealing with the impacts of serious illness in themselves, family members or their own patients. She also does consulting and training with non-profits and academic medical centers around clinical work and group development with death and loss, as well as provider coping. Dr. Nathanson has advanced post-graduate training in AEDP, EMDR, Meaning-Centered Psychotherapy and Palliative Care.


  • Participants will be able to describe how the Dual Process Model of grief can serve as a basis for trauma-informed grief work.
  • Participants will be able to identify signs of traumatic response in someone who is grieving.
  • Participants will be able to explain how somatic understandings of trauma can be understood in the context of bereavement.

11:30am—11:45am: Break

11:45-1:15pm: Concurrent Sessions

Session 1: Utilizing Yogic Philosophy to Support the Tasks of Mourning

The tasks of mourning, identified by Dr. William Worden provides a framework for understanding the process inherent in reaching a sense of equilibrium following loss. Utilizing yogic philosophy, specifically poses and tools to support each of Worden’s individual tasks, the symptoms and dynamics of grief are able to be accessed in all of the areas that they manifest: in the mind, body, and the spirit. When presented in a way that is accessible for anyone, yoga can provide the tools necessary for self-compassion, and ultimately plants seeds of transformation vital for embarking into a new chapter following loss.


Christine Gallo, LCSW, GC-C, YTT-200, Social Work Supervisor and Bereavement Counselor,  Palliative Medicine, Peconic Bay Medical Center, Northwell Health


  • Participants will define and understand Dr. William Worden’s Four Tasks of Mourning.
  • Participants will learn about the basic philosophy of Yoga, including the “8 limbs.”
  • Participants will learn specific yogic tools associated with the support of each Task of Mourning and how to present them in ways that are accessible for all.


Session 2: Loss and Grief in the Black Community: A Hidden Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic led to an unprecedented death toll amongst Black Americans, leaving a disparate impact on black grief and loss. The purpose of this presentation is to increase awareness of the risks and consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on the lives of Black clients. The presentation will also identify contributing factors which often leads to disparities in mental health and grief within this community. We will discuss the impact of racial inequities and share strategies that can be utilized by health care professionals to support Black clients.


Lisa Petgrave-Nelson, LMSW, OSW-C, Psychosocial Coordinator/Oncology Social Worker,  St. Francis Cancer Institute


  • Participants will be able to describe the impact of COVID-19 on the grief experience in the Black community.
  • Participants will be able to identify the multiple types of death and non-death loss Black clients may have experienced throughout the pandemic.
  • Participants will be able to discuss practical approaches in the management of grief within this community.

Session 3: Strategies to Balance Compassion Fatigue while Supporting Grieving Families

The purpose of this presentation is to increase clinical awareness of the risks of compassion fatigue and burnout when caring for those who are grieving like palliative care and hospice patients and families.  This presentation also focuses on utilization of self-care strategies for the purpose of risk mitigation as it relates to compassion fatigue and burnout.


Steven Krul, LCSW, CJCS, SIFI, Hospice Bereavement Counselor, MJHS Hospice


  • Participants will be able to recognize the symptoms of compassion fatigue in order to take steps to foster balance and sustained compassion.
  • Participants will explore skills in order to maintain practices of sustainable self care.
  • Participants will increase your awareness of the link between a rise in deaths in your caseload and compassion fatigue.
  • Participants will increase your knowledge about grief and the grieving process in order to better support your patients, their families, and yourself.

Session 4: Using Cognitive Behavioral Concepts to Help Process Loss and Complicated Grief (SOLD OUT)

Death by suicide, overdose, and other unexpected causes creates a myriad of reactions among those left behind – the survivors.  Drawing on the experiences of helping hundreds of families impacted by traumatic loss, this presentation will address challenges in the grieving process, and provide ways in which cognitive behavioral concepts can be used to help the bereaved live with their losses and eventually move forward.


Kathy Rosenthal, LCSW, Senior Vice President for Programs, Family Service League, Inc.

Robyn Berger-Gaston, LCSW-R, Division Director, Family Service League, Inc.


  • Participants will be able to identity warning signs and risk factors of complex grief reaction.
  • Participants will be able to understand the history and trajectory of diagnostic criteria for complex grief disorder.
  • Participants will be able to identify how and when to use cognitive behavioral concepts to assist clients with complicated grief.


Session 5: Broken Heart Syndrome: Myth or Reality? Biopsychosocial-Spiritual Manifestations of Grief

We have often heard stories of someone dying of a broken heart and often think about it as a myth; when you really can have a broken heart. This workshop will explore the realities of broken heart syndrome and the grieving process through a biopsychosocial spiritual lens. We will also explore strategies and tools to support  individuals and families in the wake of a loss of a loved-one or other major losses.


Lori Hardoon, LCSW, Senior Director of Palliative Care Supportive Services, JASA

Maria Lever, LMSW, Clinical Supervisor, Long Island Center for Dignity and Support, JASA

Christy Mitlo-Zeidman, RN, Community Nurse, Long Island Center for Dignity and Support, JASA

Judith Pollack, LCSW, Clinical Social Worker, Private Practice-Specializing in palliative and end of life care and bereavement


  • Participants will be able to understand the biopsychosocial spiritual manifestation of the grief process.
  • Participants will be able to identity warning signs and risk factors of broken heart syndrome.
  • Participants will be able to develop strategies to support individuals and families in the wake of a loss of a loved-one or major losses.


Who Should Attend?

Social Workers • Psychologists • Nurses • Clergy • Mental Health Practitioners • Chaplains • Educators • Students • Volunteers

Social Work Continuing Education Credits

Social Workers will receive 3.5 CEs for this conference. Jewish Association for Services for the Aged is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #SW-0643.


Professionals $55.00

Full Time Student $15.00

JASA Staff: $50.00  (will be charged to your JASA staff program)

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