Gail Henson

Hello Rose and William James!

I look forward to sharing this time with you.  One of the beautiful aspects of this online community is connecting us in different parts of the country, both in terms of states and in terms of population–urban, rural, etc.  As you both have experience with the Oates classes, I know we’ll have some rich interactions!

After I sent my materials for this class to our web administrator, I had two students reach out about their grief via Facebook.  When I started facilitating Oates Seminars eight years ago, I can truly say I did not know how powerful Facebook would be as a way to share life events.  Now Twitter and Facebook are forms of communicating that my seminary training never prepared me for but we have to learn to navigate in our roles.

Let me share these examples for your consideration and response.  The first example involves the loss of a parent. A former student reach out about complicated grief he was experiencing over the loss of his father, a man with whom he had had a difficult relationship.  There was so much anger in his voice, mixed with guilt and remorse for feeling dark grief.  He’s an artist and a writer, so I thought I would have some response, but Messenger on Facebook makes communication a different medium.

The second example involves an abortion.  Another one of my students posted that her 20-month old unborn child was diagnosed with almost no brain function, so she terminated the pregnancy.  She was so grateful for the escorts at the only abortion clinic in our city.  She concluded her Facebook post asking for prayers during this time of grief. Again, the medium for communication is Messenger on Facebook.  It’s hard to know what to say, if any.

So I too am hoping to learn through our interactions and through sharing materials new ways to respond more effectively to grief, whether that response is in a grief group, a face-to-face encounter, or social media, this newer and challenging platform for counseling.

Looking forward to our time together.