Good Grief Center Offers Conference on Grief, Bereavement Skills, Strategies

good grief centerThe Good Grief Center for Bereavement Support (GGC), a new division of Ursuline Senior Services,  is offering a one-day conference, “Business of Bereavement: Insights on Grief,” from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012, at the Twentieth Century Club, 4201 Bigelow Boulevard in Pittsburgh’s Oakland section.

“This conference will help professionals and others build skills and gain a better understanding of grief and loss so they can have more meaningful conversations, provide greater support and a compassionate response to the needs of the dying and grieving among their patients, clients, employees, families and communities,” said Executive Director Anthony Turo. “It will help to promote the special awareness, needs and communications of the grieving and bereaved.”

The Good Grief Center has attracted a stellar roster of speakers and facilitators who will help attendees explore numerous facets of grief. Emceed by WTAE-TV news anchor and honorary GGC council member Sally Wiggin, the conference’s roster of speakers includes:

*City Councilman Corey O’Connor, a native Pittsburgher and life-long resident of the 5th Council District. In 2006, he earned his bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Duquesne University, with a minor in political science. Upon graduation from Duquesne, Mr. O’Connor began his career working for U.S. Representative Mike Doyle in his Pittsburgh District Office. In the Pittsburgh City Council race of 2011, Mr. O’Connor won over 75 percent of the General Election vote. He is the third child of Pittsburgh’s late Mayor Bob O’Connor and Judy O’Connor.

*Judith Johnson and Laurie Schwartz, cofounders of Having It Your Way, a creative collaboration designed to educate and motivate individuals and organizations to live and evolve from a place of profound authenticity. The dynamic educational programs and individual and organizational coaching empower clients to live with conscious purpose rooted in a deep sense of self. Their keynote address is titled, Transforming Our Culture of Death: From Anxiety to Compassion.


Rev. Johnson was ordained as an ecumenical minster in 1985. Her formal education includes a master’s degree in business administration and doctorates in social psychology and spiritual science. She is a published author and reporter for the Huffington Post and writes extensively on grief and loss.

Ms. Schwartz cofounded Having It Your Way and Circle of Friends for the Dying, Inc.: a nonprofit organization in the development phase of overseeing a home in Ulster County, NY for people in their last three months of life. She has a B.A. degree in education from Brooklyn College and a master’s in humanistic education from the State University of New York at New Paltz.

*Lee Gutkind, author of “At the End of Life: True stories about how we die” and founder and editor of the literary magazine Creative Nonfiction. Mr. Gutkind has written and edited books about baseball, health care, travel and technology. He is currently Distinguished Writer in Residence at the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes and Professor in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, both at Arizona State University. Mr. Gutkind will share the process of writing and editing this poignant picture of how we face death and be available to sign copies of his book.

Additionally, a number of workshops facilitated by distinguished professionals will be offered during the day, including: Active Listening; Psychological First Aid; Because THEY Don’t Know – Finding the Courage to Make Real Conversations Happen in Bereavement; The Evolving Concept of Complicated Grief: A Clinical Perspective and Insights from the Heal Study; Estate Planning: Beyond the Basics; Understanding Normal Grief; Grief in the Workplace; and Being an Agent of Change: At Home, At Work, and in the Community.

(A complete list of presentations, workshops, speakers and facilitators and registration information are available at

The conference will also include a special presentation during lunch to Lulu Orr, founder of the Good Grief Center to mark 10 years of service and recognizing Mrs. Orr for a “Decade of Caring.”

Major supporting partner for the conference is UPMC Health Plan. Additional partners include TIAA CREF, Dollar Bank, AseraCare Hospice and Smith Barney Morgan Stanley.

This program has been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education through joint sponsorship of Allegheny General Hospital and the Good Grief Center. Allegheny General Hospital is also approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Continuing education credits will also be available for additional specific professions and student scholarships are available for those meeting certain criteria. Information may be obtained by calling the Good Grief Center at 412-224-4700 or visit

The Good Grief Center for Bereavement Support of Ursuline Senior Services is the region’s first and only comprehensive center dedicated exclusively to bereavement support of all ages. Its service area spans Western Pennsylvania—as well as any part of the English-speaking world over the phone and through its website, Its mission is to be a comprehensive bereavement resource and referral center that builds a more compassionate community through grief awareness, education, support and hope; creating a safe place where all who have experienced the pain of death may come to work through loss and learn to manage grief.

+ posts