Thursday, April 11     Friday, April 12      Saturday, April 13   
   8:00 - 9:40 a.m. ET      8:00 - 9:40 a.m. ET              4:00 - 5:25 p.m. ET      
   Dr. Rockey Robbins 
   Darcy Harris   
   Harold Ivan Smith             

Scroll down to learn more about each keynote presentation.

Keynote Presentations

ADEC is pleased to announce the following keynote presentations for the 41st Annual Conference.

Thursday, April 11, 8:00 - 9:40 a.m.
Creating a Relational Home for a Six-Year-Old Choctaw Cancer Patient
Dr. Rockey Robbins

The speaker will present a narrative describing his treatment work with a six-year-old Choctaw boy who was in the process of dying. He will first put the story in the context of traditional Choctaw rituals and ideas as they relate to death and dying. Then he will recount the key events that occurred within their relationship over the approximately six months, during which he met with him three time per week, that highlighted the healing relationship.  A description of the hospital setting, as well as his interactions with nurses, and family members will be noted as they related to his well-being. But the primary focus of the speech will deal with the transformations that occurred with both the young boy and the speaker. The transformative experiences will be discussed in a developmental context of growth from Becoming to Being; Realistic to Imaginative; and from Death to Love. To conclude, the speaker will relate the experience to his development as a therapist.

Learning Objectives:
-- To explore traditional Choctaw rituals and ideas as they relate to death and dying of a 6 year-old boy.
-- To discover the transformations that occurred with both the young boy and the speaker through out the process of dying and death.
-- To emphasize the growth as a therapist resulting from the dying and death experience of the 6 year-old Choctaw boy.

Rockey Robbins, Ph.D has been a professor in the Professional Counseling Program at the University of Oklahoma for seventeen years. He has written over 50 journal articles and chapters, all related to Native Americans and Psychology. Two of his favorites are: “A Folk Healer and the Little People,” printed in The Counseling Psychologist and “Letter to my Son on the Anniversary of his Sundance Piercing,” printed by the Journal of Social Justice for Counselors (re-issued last year in a special issue of the journal’s “best.”  He teaches Multi-Cultural Counseling, Personality Assessment and Behavior Disorders courses. He was the first person to receive a citation from the Oklahoma Psychologist’s Association for Social Justice Work. He travels extensively across the United States and Europe speaking on Native American issues and giving psycho-educational workshops for Native American tribes. 


Friday, April 12, 8:00 - 9:40 a.m.
Non-Death Loss and Grief: Context and Clinical Implications
Darcy Harris

While most of the theorizing and research related to grief has been associated with death-related losses, there are several studies that identify the presence of grief after losses that are non-death in origin, many of which are ongoing in nature. Significant non-death losses are sometimes referred to as living losses, because the loss (and accompanying grief) will be present in various ways for the rest of an individual’s life. In this session, we will explore recent research and literature related to grief that arises from non-death loss experiences, including the unique features and implications this form of grief. We will also discuss the applicability of current bereavement theories, providing an inclusive perspective for grief as the response to all types of losses, and not just those that occur as the result of death.

Learning Objectives:
-- Identify how current research describes the role of grief after non-death loss experiences.
-- Apply several contemporary bereavement theories to grief in non-death loss scenarios.
-- Recognize the commonalities and differences in grief that occurs in both death-related and non-death losses.

Darcy L. Harris, R.N., R.S.W., Ph.D., FT, is an Associate Professor and the Thanatology Coordinator at King’s University College in London, Canada, where she also maintains a private clinical practice specializing in issues related to change, loss, and transition. Dr. Harris developed the undergraduate degree program in Thanatology at King’s University College. She has served on the board of directors of the Association for Death Education and Counseling and is a current member of the International Work Group on Death, Dying, and Bereavement. She is a series co-editor for Routledge Publishing Company’s Death, Dying, and Bereavement Series. Her publications include Counting our Losses: Reflecting on Change, Loss, and Transition in Everyday Life (Routledge), Grief and Bereavement in Contemporary Society: Bridging Research and Practice (Routledge), Principles and Practice of Grief Counseling (Springer), and The Handbook of Social Justice in Loss and Grief: Exploring Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (Routledge). Her new book, Non-Death Loss and Grief:  Context and Clinical Implications (Routledge), will be released in 2019.

Saturday, April 13, 4:00 - 5:25 p.m.
"Oh, I Could Never Do What You Do!!!" Quilting Stories of Tragedy, Grief and Resiliency
Harold Ivan Smith

Most likely anyone working in our field—and attending this conference—has become accustomed to hearing some variation of the question, “How in the world do you do that for a living?” Perhaps they think we are chronic depressives or super-humans who can do the impossible work of living in the world’s emotional backwater. Either way, what they don’t “get” is that the secret to doing “this” work is learning how to hear stories, how to offer hospitality to stories. 
In a death-phobic culture which emphasizes facts, graphs, charts, and percentages, newspaper and online obituaries string facts together: date of birth, date of death, graduations, marriage and parenting details, memberships, place of employment, hobbies. Strung details, however colorful, fail to capture the particular-ness of the deceased and, consequently, the particular-ness of one’s bereavement. 
Hawaiians sometimes say, “We need to get together and talk story.” In groups I lead, I have borrowed from the Hawaiian tradition of humuhumu or “fitting the pieces together.” Our data-driven, information-overloaded culture needs to rediscover active storytelling, particularly during the dying and the bereaving. Everyone’s story, at whatever stage of development, needs to be offered generous hospitality because in that storytelling, bereavers often find hope, insight, and encouragement to encounter, engage and to integrate their grief. So, although over the years I have heard many bereavers’ stories---I have never heard this particular bereaver’s narrative. Grieving persons need to hear: Your story counts! 

Learning Objectives:
-- Describe ways contemporary culture expresses discomfort with dying and death.  
-- Explore the role of “antecedent losses” in shaping personal narratives.
-- Model storytelling techniques.
-- Develop a personal “This is why I work with the bereaving” narrative. 

Harold Ivan Smith is a graduate of The Mid-America College of Funeral Service, Scarritt College (M.A.), George Peabody College of Vanderbilt University (Ed.S.) and has a doctorate from Asbury Theological Seminary. Smith is recognized as a Fellow in Thanatology by the Association for Death Education and Counseling. He is a member of the teaching faculty at Saint Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City and had lead storytelling groups for grievers for 18 years.  He serves on the board of the Grief Support Network in Kansas City. He serves as a staff celebrant for Speaks Suburban Memorial Chapel in Independence, Mo. Dr. Smith latest book is Eleanor: A Spiritual Biography, examining the spirituality of Eleanor Roosevelt, first lady, 1933-1945. Other books he has authored include Borrowed narratives: Using historical and biographical narratives with the bereaving; When you don’t know what to say; When a child you know is grieving; A Decembered grief; A long-shadowed grief: Suicide and its aftermath; Griefkeeping: Learning how long grief lasts; and ABCs of healthy grieving: A companion for everyday coping.  He has conducted research projects on the grief of Sigmund Freud, Walt Disney, Coretta Scott King, Nelson Mandela, Lady Bird Johnson, and Ronald Reagan. His primary research is on the griefs of the U.S. Presidents and First Ladies, particularly during their White House Years.  Smith, a gifted storyteller, infuses his presentations with narratives from historic and celebrity grievers.