Public Presentation

Grief is a universal concern, and certainly not one confined to groups of professional caregivers.  For this reason I am often invited to speak to groups of the bereaved themselves, typically as a community talk held in conjunction with a workshop for practicing therapists and counselors.  Depending on the wishes of the organizers, this may take the form of a 1-hour educational lecture, or a 90-minute or 2-hour presentation that also integrates some opportunity for personal reflection and supportive small group discussion.

The description that follows conveys one possible focus of this sort of community talk, which can also be adapted to meet the needs of various support and advocacy groups (e.g., The Compassionate Friends, Survivors of Suicide).

Click this button to download a Word version of this Public talk Description.

Loss, Grief and the Quest for Meaning

Robert A. Neimeyer, PhD
University of Memphis

[60-90 minute public talk]


While bereavement and loss are universal, the ways in which people accommodate such unsought transitions are surprisingly varied, and can range from adaptive to complicated, prolonged, and even life threatening.  Drawing on contemporary understandings of grieving as a meaning-making process, we will consider what this implies for individuals and families negotiating loss as they strive to manage the emotional challenges of mourning and reconstruct a continuing bond with a loved one who is physically absent but psychologically present.  Ultimately, we will consider evidence that people can move from grief to growth, and reaffirm a life of meaning that has been challenged and changed by bereavement.

Learning objectives:

  • Identify two narrative challenges involved in making meaning of loss
  • Define the two domains of bereavement adaptation traced by the Two-Track Model
  • Describe the concept of “coincidancing” in a family’s efforts to make sense of loss
  • List three domains of posttraumatic growth commonly observed in the bereaved