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A Virtual Conference for 2021

The 2021 International Death, Grief and Bereavement Conference will be offered in a virtual/online environment to allow for greater participation. Now—more than ever—it is necessary to come together to learn, share and support one another.


Ambiguous Loss and Grief

Pre-conference: June 3–4, 2021 (half days)
Full conference: June 7–9, 2021

Ambiguous loss (Boss, 1999) is a type of loss where there is often no closure and sometimes even a lack of understanding that a loss has occurred. Ambiguous loss includes two types:

1) losses experienced where a loved one is physically present but psychologically absent, for example: various types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, substance abuse, depression and other mental illness, and

2) losses experienced where there is a physical absence and a psychological presence, for example: divorce, separation from relatives due to immigration policies, abandonment, adoption, or a loss where death cannot be confirmed, such as a loved one missing after a natural disaster, kidnapping or war. Grief from ambiguous loss is unique and requires various coping approaches. 

Conference topics:

  • Best practices and contemporary therapies for grief
  • Mental health and spirituality of the dying and grieving
  • Caregiving for diverse populations
  • Children’s grief
  • Conflict management and communication during grief
  • Managing caregiver stress
  • Social justice and grief

Who should attend:

  • Palliative care providers
  • Hospice providers
  • Hospital chaplains
  • Funeral service directors
  • Program directors
  • Case managers
  • Counselors
  • Nurses
  • Social workers
  • Pharmacists
  • Educators
  • Individuals dealing with personal loss
  • General public

Planning committee:

  • Gerry Cox, Ph.D., UW-La Crosse, retired
  • Lori A. Pacourek, MSSW, CAPSW, Gundersen Health System
  • Andrew Vitale, CT, Author, Northern Illinois Hospice, Rockford, IL
  • Erica Srinivasan, B.A., Ph.D., UW-La Crosse
  • Dan Festa, Ph.D., Pastor
  • Milandrie Wakim​​, UW-La Crosse

Co-providers: Gundersen Health System, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Center for Death Education & Bioethics and Extended Learning