TCR Staff in attendance (left to right): Nancy Frumer Styron, Laurie Moskowitz-Corrois, Donna Smith Sharff, Colleen Shannon

Last month, staff from The Children’s Room attended the 2014 National Alliance for Grieving Children Symposium in Atlanta, Georgia.

Held annually, this conference brings together professionals from across the United States and Canada who are working in the field of grief support.

The Children’s Room has been a regular contributor at this conference, and this year was no exception. Staff presented a session on mindfulness and expressive arts, entitled “Finding Your [Piece] Peace.”

Mindfulness is paying attention, with purpose and intention, to the present moment, without judgment. Integrating mindfulness and the expressive arts are unique aspects of TCR’s model of grief support.

Nancy Frumer Styron, Clinical Director, and Laurie Moskowitz-Corrois, Associate Program Director of Family & Expressive Arts, led participants in the experiential learning session.

In the activity pictured, Symposium participants were invited to personalize a “piece” with colorful markers and “make it their own.”

Sharing their stories in small groups first, the large group then placed their pieces together to create a puzzle, visually representing their newly formed community. Mindful walking around the puzzle then offered the group an opportunity to view their “piece” from different perspectives.

This simple yet meaningful activity illustrates our unique roles as a “piece of the whole” as we work together to build safe, supportive communities for grief work.

Heartfelt feedback came from participants who remarked how helpful the workshop had been to them throughout the conference.

In a following session, parents whose daughter was killed in the Newtown, CT shooting shared their story of coping after the tragedy. One participant shared with us afterward, “Having participated in your workshop helped me stay grounded and present. I was able to focus on what was going on right in that moment.”

We are grateful for the opportunity to learn from other professionals who work with grieving families and to share our skills and experience with other grief support centers across the country and beyond.