Recognize Grief Awareness Week with events, presentations, films and more

April 21, 2015  //  FOUND IN: Announcements,

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The U-M Health System’s annual Grief Awareness Week begins May 10 to acknowledge staff losses, both personal and professional.

Events and activities will be offered to help renew the head, heart and spirit. Grief Awareness Week programs cover the depth of our human experience through sadness, laughter, story-telling, music and creativity.

See below for a schedule of events and visit for more information.

    • May 10&16: U-M Museum of Art Tour— In Conversation: Art, Loss and Renewal. 1 p.m. 525 S State St., Ann Arbor.  In Conversation: Art, Loss & Renewal is a special guided tour at the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA). The informal In Conversation tour offers the opportunity to reflect on human experiences of loss, grief, compassion and renewal from many different cultures and perspectives. These small group sessions include close looking at 6-10 works of art in various media, personal response and discussion as well as sharing information about the works of art. It is free for all UMHS staff and their adult guests, but registration is required.The May 10th session will be led by Ruth Slavin, UMMA Deputy Director of Education, and experienced Museum Docent Linda Bennett; and the May 16th session will be led by Ruth Slavin and Pamela Reister, UMMA Museum Curator for Teaching & Learning. Both sessions are 60-90 min. For more information on In Conversation, please visit or contact Jann Wesolek, 734.647.0522.  Register for this free program at For information about self-guided tours throughout the week, visit This program is co-sponsored by Gifts of Art.
  • May 10: U-M Life Sciences Orchestra featuring Holst’s “The Planets”, the first movement of Mozart’s “Jupiter” Symphony, and a euphonium soloist playing Weber’s Bassoon Concerto. 4 p.m. at Hill Auditorium. This event is free and open to the public. No tickets are required. Read more here.
  • May 11: Schwartz Rounds. Noon-1 p.m. Ford Auditorium. The Schwartz Rounds discussion, “End of Life Faith Needs: Whose?” will explore differences of faith in caring for patients at end of life, and when these differences become a source of pain or discomfort. These include differences between the patient and their family members, or differences between patient/family and staff. The program explains how health care providers navigate these difficulties while respecting faith beliefs of both the patient and family. Learn more. 
  • May 12: Film screening: “Transforming Loss.” 3-4:30 p.m. Danto Auditorium. Co-sponsored by a gift from the estate of Roy Puckett.
    This film shows how several courageous, yet ordinary people created meaningful lives after experiencing profound death experiences. A panel discussion after the film will feature the filmmaker Judith Burdick as well as film participant Gary Weinstein, who shares his story of transforming loss into forgiveness. Kathleen Robertson, director of the UMHS Employee Assistance Program, will moderate. Refreshments provided.
  • May 13: Lecture by Vic Strecher, MPH, Ph.D. Noon-1 p.m. Ford Auditorium. “On Purpose: New Directions in Life, Death and Health.” Co-sponsored by the Congenital Heart Center. In 2010, Vic Strecher suffered the loss of his 19-year-old daughter, Julia, to a rare heart condition. This tragedy set him on a new course of discovery that continues to this day. In 2014, he released “On Purpose: Lessons in Life and Health From the Frog, Dung Beetle, and Julia,” a graphic novel that combines the personal story of coping with the loss of his daughter with ancient philosophy in a modern, multimedia format. Lunch will be provided to the first 150 attendees. This program is approved for 1 social work CEU and 1 CE for medical providers.
  • May 14: Traditional & Contemporary Gospel by the Psalmists, presented by Gifts of Art. 12:10-1 p.m., University Hospital Main Lobby, Floor 1. The Psalmists is an outstanding vocal ensemble comprised of accomplished soloists from the greater Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti community. Read more here.
  • May 14: Staff Memorial Service: “Light, Life and Love.” 1:10-1:40 p.m. MCHC Auditorium. Sponsored by the Department of Spiritual Care and Employee Assistance Program. Please join us to celebrate and remember our cherished colleagues and loved ones whom we have lost this year. The service will include music by the Psalmists, poetry and readings. Refreshments to follow.

Note: The Memorial Service Committee is requesting names of staff members who have passed this year, so they can be read at the service. These names can be sent to Alyssa Waineo at, along with any other names you would like to include in the service. Staff may also include three words that describe the person who we are remembering.

    • May 15: Grief and Gratitude. Noon – 1 p.m. Danto Auditorium. Generously sponsored by an anonymous donor and the U-M Transplant Center. A panel discussion with members of three families who lost a loved one at UMHS. Their stories will inspire our work and help us understand how the smallest things can make the biggest difference. Lunch provided.
  • May 20: Compassion Fatigue Workshop. Noon -1 p.m. CVC Board Room 5321. This workshop will discuss ways to help employees manage the stressors of working in a health care setting, an environment which often comes with extensive loss experiences. Facilitated by staff of the Employee Assistance Program, participants will learn ways to recognize the impact of compassion fatigue, and will develop a self-care plan to address the impact. Contact Kelly at (734) 763-5409 or email to register.
  • Grief Wall: From May 11-May 15, windows in University Hospital, C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and the Frankel Cardiovascular Center will serve as a resource for faculty, staff, patients and visitors to express their grief. Using paint markers on the windows, our community will have an opportunity to share thoughts, messages, poems and coping strategies related to their personal loss and grief stories. This is an interactive way to display personal expression of grief and coping, and connect us all to this universal human experience.

About Grief Awareness Week:

Social workers Sue Sefansky, Office of Decedent Affairs coordinator; and Lisbeth Harcourt, Lung Transplant Program and Transplant Cumulative Grief Committee chair, became chairs of Grief Awareness Week after recognizing a need for grief support and education among our health care workers who are often in an environment of loss and suffering. They chair a multidisciplinary committee that includes Transport Services, Environmental Services, Security, Nursing, M.D.’s, Child Life, UMHS Employee Assistance Program, Spiritual Care, Gifts of Art, Public Information Office, and Interpreter Services, among many others. Please direct questions about the week to either Sue or Lisbeth.

This year’s Grief Awareness Week is sponsored by the Department of Social Work, The Transplant Center, Patient Family Centered Care, The Congenital Heart Center, Gifts of Art, Spiritual Care, NASW-Michigan, The Kite Network, University of Michigan Museum of Art, and a generous gift from the estate of Roy D. Puckett..

Information on past events can be found on the ODA Website.