The People Behind Navigating Grief

[dropcap1]N[/dropcap1]avigating Grief, establish 2012, is the combined resources of Storybooks for Healing® an eight week bereavement group support and writing  curriculum  (2009) plus Grief Reflection, a caregiver’s blog for end-of -life care (2010). Grief Reflection itself is the term given to the writing process in Storybooks for Healing.

Grief is a person’s reaction to loss, whether anticipated during terminal illness or after the death of a loved one. Grief is also experienced with other losses such as as divorce, chronic illness or moving as well, but the focus for Navigating Grief is primarily the caregiver’s grief and losses pertaining to a deaths. Navigating Grief  is a resource and support community of online journals, workshops, seminars, peer discussions, writing programs and memory preservation tools. It “takes a village” as they say. Here are the people providing you expertise and support through this site:

Joan Hitchens, B.A., Navigating Grief Coach
Founder, Navigating Grief
Curriculum author, Storybooks for Healing®
Author, Grief Reflection, a caregiver’s blog

Joan is founder of Navigating Grief, a website community providing education and support to caregivers and the bereaved after the death of a loved one.

Joan’s inspiration for tribute, and later bereavement, work arose after the suicide of a teenage friend of her daughter’s, when a multi-media slide show inspired celebrating her life rather than focusing on her death. This followed just two years after her father’s death, at which she was introduced first hand to the services and support of hospice. Over the years of preserving family memories for clients in her business Mosaic Tributes, she found memorial work was the most rewarding and recognized the healing that came from sharing, remembering and preserving photos and stories after a loss. Through evolution of her work in organizing photos, developing story for individuals and groups, and interspersed with her personal understanding of grief and group processes, the Storybooks For Healing program was launched in 2009.

In 2010, Storybooks for Healing took a backseat to Joan’s important task as primary caregiver to her husband Dave throughout the time of his terminal lung cancer, his third distinct cancer in a 23 year span. From the diagnosis in October 2010, to his death in February 2012, Joan openly shared her own process for writing through grief in her blog Grief Reflection. Her personal writing on widowhood and on grief  continue under the Grief Reflection heading on this website.

Today, Joan is proud to be building the community of Navigating Grief where people can come together to learn about their grief, remember their love, preserve stories of their loved one, and take the journey of healing together. Bringing both educational tools and experience from her own grief work as hospice volunteer, caregiver and widow, Joan is available to assist you through coaching for a fulfilling “new normal” while honoring the memories and changes brought about from your loss. Joan is a member of the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC), and National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHCPO).

Navigating Grief Advisory Board

[dropcap1]N[/dropcap1]avigating Grief is supported by an Advisory Board who provide ongoing input into the educational program and business development. The Advisory Board is comprise of volunteers who support the mission of Navigating Grief  in creating effective online and local communities to provide peer support to those experiencing loss. We believe that grief and loss can be lessened when consciously approached through writing, art, group discussion and creating story. Sharing these stories of lessons learned through loss (finding meaning) and capturing the memories of character, value and relationship of a loved one are important cathartic steps in managing the pain of grief. The Board is comprised of individual professionals who represent bereavement and hospice, education, heritage, social media, and more. Each member also brings his or her own stories of loss to share that is a personally inspiring insight for joining our special community. Presented alphabetically:

Gina Bailey, Cornucopia Consulting Gina Bailey, Ph.D., International Communication

Gina holds a MA in clinical psychology, a MA in cross-cultural communication, and a Ph.D. in international communication. During her years in private practice, she treated many clients with varying grief disorders (individually and in groups) as well as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Gina is owner of Cornucopia Consulting, which provides multiple mental health services.

Gina is the biological mother of a child she surrendered for adoption after his birth.  She was united with her son and adopted family in 2007. Gina is actively engaged with Adoption Circle of Hawaii. Adoption has a lifelong impact on the triad – those who are adopted, those who have relinquished children for adoption, and those who have adopted children. Gina is also available for consulting in matters of adoption through her business Cornucopia Consulting.

Janet Ott, Navigatnig Grief CoachJanet F. Ott, Ph.D., Neurophysiology

Jan began her early career in gerontology and decided on her doctorate in neurophysiology after she became fascinated watching stroke victims recover function while working in a nursing home. She found herself more drawn to teaching than research, and spent 23 years at The Evergreen State College, teaching physiology to pre-med students, and then venturing further and further into alternative health and wellness. She ended up in the yin and yang of spirit and science teaching women’s spirituality, energy medicine and experiential wellness programs. After a long illness, Jan retired from the college to become a business and life coach, where she connects people to their personal power.

Today, Jan has embarked upon a new teaching path at The  Montessori in Houston, Texas.

Jan’s inspiration to assist Navigating Grief on the Advisory Board comes from a long history of related experiences. Jan also brings her life and life coaching to the Navigating Grief community. Certified Wealth Consultant with The Heritage Institute, Jan has seen what happens with families after someone, particularly of wealth, dies. There is not just grief, but all manner of emotions about what was left (or not left) behind. Pre-planning for estates and legacy can mean peace of mind for all family members and lessen the heartache of grief when the wishes of loved ones are united and honored.

Michelle Schuyleman, LMHCMichelle Schuyleman, M.A., Counseling, Licensed Mental Health Counselor

Michelle was most recently Family Support Coordinator for a children’s grief program and has a private practice in grief and mental health counseling. She has worked in the field of hospice and bereavement with families for over 12 years, as an individual and group counselor, family grief program coordinator, and grief and loss/ trauma consultant. Michelle has trained others to facilitate grief groups, has given several presentations on children and grief for school districts and community organizations. She has organized bereaved parent gatherings, memorial events, summer day camps, sudden loss support groups, and small grassroots grief programs in Washington and South America.

Michelle is currently working for an agency which provides support for at risk youth.

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In Memoriam:

David L. Hitchens, Ph.D., American History, Founding Faculty Member, The Evergreen State College

Dave, husband for 28 years to Navigating Grief founder Joan Hitchens, taught at the college level for over 49 years, 40 at The Evergreen State College (TESC) in Olympia, WA.  TESC is an innovative Arts and Sciences college featuring interdisciplinary studies presented through small group seminars. David’s overarching approach to teaching was in the field of “reading, writing, thinking, and talking” which provides the fundamental skills for life-long learning and personal  insight. Dave’s spirit lives on in Joan’s work and her heart through their mutual desire to utilize self-discovery as a means to life fulfillment.

A memorial scholarship, the David L Hitchens Scholarship in honor of Frances Marie Rasmussen (his mother) was established in 2011 to carry on his desire to provide opportunity for higher education to anyone who desired to learn. You can learn more about Dave on a dedicated scholarship website created by his family.

Storybooks For Healing® is grateful to the family and memory of Brynn Marie Davis, whose short seven months on this earth was inspirational in the origin of the writing through grief program.