A new diagnosis can be traumatic for patients and their families, especially when young children are involved.  Children are often the forgotten mourners in families when a parent or sibling is ill. How can we best support them in their homes, communities and schools? How we talk about illness and death can make a huge difference in the lives of our children. Allowing them to share their feelings with trusted adults and peers encourages them to explore coping in healthy ways.  This conference will address the many issues children and families deal with when living with illness. Please join researchers and practitioners in the field for an invigorating, educational day.

This all-day conference held at Kean University in Union, will explore topics including how to tell a child that a family member is going to die; working with the arts to facilitate expression, healing and mourning; end of life care planning and pain management; as well as Dr. Norma Bowe’s Death Class: A True story About Life.  In addition to the above workshops, there will be a presentation of a family living with illness and practical advice from the parents and children in the family.

This conference will highlight Imagine’s mission to normalize grief and death and dying, and to support people who are grieving due to any type of loss.  “So many children live with the responsibility of a parent’s illness,” said Mandi Zucker, Program Director at Imagine.  “Children often grow up embarrassed that dad can’t be the football coach, or that friends can’t come to play because they don’t want anyone to know that mom looks different.  Imagine wants to reduce the stigma associated with illness and death so that all children can talk freely to their peers about what is going on with them—and then get the support they need.  We all know that everyone has a story—so why is it that death or illness is a story that no one can talk about?  We want to change that.  Talking about death and dying can reduce fear and stress, open communication and prepare families for end of life decision making. It can actually improve the quality of life.”

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The conference is on November 14th from 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM, with registration beginning at 8:30 AM.  $99 registration fee includes lunch.  Student discounts available as well as discounts for members of the Imagine volunteer community and the Kean University faculty and staff. Continuing education credits will be available for no additional charge through Kean University Counselor Education Department. Please contact mandi@imaginenj.org or 908-264-3100 for more information, or to register go to www.imaginenj.org/register.

Imagine is a free year-round grief support center located in Westfield and serving all of Union County and beyond.  Visit our website at www.imaginenj.org.