23rd Annual National Military Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp
May 25 - 29, 2017
Crystal Gateway Marriott, Arlington, Virginia

23rd Annual National Military Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp
May 25 - 29, 2017
Crystal Gateway Marriott, Arlington, Virginia



Seminar Workshops

We have a variety of sessions available throughout the weekend. Our workshop presenters are leading experts in the field of grief and loss, and you will have the opportunity to gain tools and resources for your grief journey. You may choose which workshops and activities to attend at your leisure.

Make sure to download the TAPS Events app. This mobile app puts advance details about the seminar right in the palm of your hand. Recommended session schedules for different grief programming and speaker information are all built into the easy-to-navigate app. There will be information about off-site activities, evening events and reminders for Good Grief Camp parents. 

You can also check out the seminar schedule and presenters


A Frank Conversation: Is My Loss Traumatic? — Dr. Frank Campbell: Traumatic grief has characteristics different from the more traditional grief associated with death.  Dr. Frank Campbell will describe elements that stand out when experiencing traumatic grief that compromise the activities of daily living and impact sleep, physical health and overall well-being. When assumed to be characteristics of "normal" grief many find processing their loss overwhelming, resulting in a more difficult grief journey. Participants attending are encouraged to ask questions or share personal experiences they are coping with to gain practical solutions that have helped others cope more effectively.

Alcohol and Substance Abuse (etc.) and Coping with Grief — Franklin Cook: This session begins with peer grief support helper Franklin Cook using his own story — as a person bereaved by the traumatic death of his father — to explore how alcohol and substance abuse (and other potentially addictive behaviors) can affect coping with grief. A number of ideas about the causes and characteristics of the pain of grief are discussed, and various perspectives on coping with the pain of grief are shared. This is an interactive session, in which participants' ideas and perspectives on this vital topic are welcome.

Art and Grief: How Art Communicates the Unspeakable — Erin Jacobson: In grief, we often struggle to find the words to express what we feel. The visual arts can communicate the deepest parts of us when we don’t know how to communicate them. After the death of her fiancé in 2007, survivor Erin Jacobson studied art as part of her healing process. In this session, she will give a brief introduction on how to look at art and use it as a tool to heal as well as share specific pieces that resonated in her grief process. 

Artful Grief Studio: The Artful Grief Open Art Studio is a safe, sacred and quiet space for participants to create their own artwork in response to their personal journey and experience the transformational process of creativity. The studio will serve as an "art making" sanctuary that meets the ongoing needs of attendees throughout the conference.

Bereavement Stress Reduction: 10 Techniques to Help People Cope — Dr. Gloria Horsley and Dr. Heidi Horsley: Are you ready to reduce your bereavement stress? This interactive workshop is for those who are ready to transform their losses and find hope, healing and joy again. You will learn tools and techniques for reducing bereavement stress and will develop skills for healing after loss. Specific tips and tools will be shared that have been used in Heidi and Gloria's own lives, and with their guests to find hope and literally transform lives. You will leave feeling more energized and learn techniques that can be used at home.

Combined 12-Step Group Meeting: Open to members of any 12-Step Fellowship, these meetings are being held on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings at 9 p.m. The meetings will be conducted based on the 12-Step model first developed by Alcoholics Anonymous and will be chaired by Franklin C., a longtime member of several 12-Step Fellowships. TAPS welcomes anyone attending this weekend's survivor seminar who is a member of a 12-Step Fellowship to attend the meetings, but the meetings are not affiliated with TAPS.

Dance/Movement Therapy: The Body's Felt Experience — Brigitta White, MS, R-DMT: Our emotional experience is held in the body. We will give space to let our bodies "talk.” Learn about dance/movement therapy and how to find dance/movement therapists in this experiential workshop.

Drawing your Griefscape —Heather Stang: This workshop invites participants to use crayons and paper to reflect on the metaphor of “grief as a landscape” in order to gain insight and a new perspective on the experience of grief. Drawing your “landscape of grief” will help you explore grief in a new way, which will offer up new perspectives and insights while fostering meaning-making and narrative reconstruction. In many cases, this exercise will help you take one step forward on your grief journey. After a brief meditation and mindful movement exercise, you will imagine what grief would look like if it were a physical place. Open-ended questions will allow you to meditate on and tour your “grief-scape” as if it were the first time you visited–reflecting on attributes such as the season, the climate, the time of day, and more. A period of silence will be allowed for you to create the drawing itself. We will be using crayons — one of the least intimidating art mediums, as this exercise is not about creating a work of art, but rather exploring your relationship with your life after loss. There will be ample time allotted for you to share your drawing and reflect on its symbolism with the group. 

Finding Growth Through Service to Others — Zaneta Gileno: When we come to a place of “what next?” we are often unsure if we are ready to help others. Especially when we still feel in need ourselves. Together, let’s explore what we each bring to the table, and how to show up for ourselves most of all. 

Finding Invictus: Conversations on Kindness, Mental Resiliency and the Courage to Be Where You Are — Navy Seal William Wagasy: Real-world examples, taken from history and from William Wagasy's experiences in training and combat as a Navy SEAL, form the basis of this interactive, introspective workshop. Participants will discover new perspectives, hidden strengths, and the power to reframe each day's "mission" as part of a larger purpose. 

God Winks — Bonnie Carroll: Some people call them “God Winks,” some call them signs, messages or after-death communication. No matter what we call them, signs from our loved ones can be very present in our lives. Stories and experiences of the presence of our loved ones will be discussed in this open-minded and intimate sharing session.

Good Grief Camp for Adults — Jonathan Kirkendall:  Ever wish YOU could go to Good Grief Camp? Ever wanted to hang out with the cool kids and draw and paint and play AND grieve? Now is your chance! Join us (in a kid-free zone) as we lead you through hands-on projects inspired by our most popular activities from Good Grief Camp.

Hamilton: A Healing Journey — Bob Delaney:  This session will call upon the power of song and storytelling as tools for navigating your healing journey. Lin Manuel Miranda’s genius in writing the Broadway hit “Hamilton” underlines how Alexander Hamilton navigated trauma experiences including parental loss, suicide and the loss of a child. His legacy is much more than a list of accomplishments written in a history book when you consider the resiliency he consistently displayed throughout his life. Bob Delaney’s presentation will exemplify the Dalai Lama’s words, “There is a growing appreciation of understanding one’s emotions, how they operate and how to manage them.”

Handmade Books: Tiny Pages That Speak Volumes — Sharon Strouse: We are storytellers and have been for millennia. Our knowledge, wisdom and heart have been carved onto the walls of caves, written on tablets, hides, parchment and paper, and more recently, created sitting at our computers. Our stories are verbal and visceral, and when we find a safe place for them to be heard and seen there is healing. Handmade Books: Tiny Pages that Speak Volumes, offers the opportunity to write your story during a sense-making and benefit-finding process. During our time together you will … write, loosen, let go, layer, soften, dissolve, flow, tear, fold, tie together, hold and embrace … your story. This reflective writing and creative process is designed for those on a healing path. 

Healing Hands Knitters Group — Claire Wudowski: Studies have shown that there is a relaxation response that is encouraged through knitting. The repetition of the needles has an effect similar to that of yoga and meditation. Join Claire Wudowski as she shares her knitting prowess, needles, yarn and love for people, spending an evening together in a knitter’s haven. 

Holding On or Letting Go? Wisdom from the Dark Emotions — Ben Wolfe, M.Ed., LICSW, FT: Most of us do NOT want to be negative. We want to live with a “we can” attitude and one which brings out the best in us, and in turn others. Why would we intentionally head down that “scary and fearful road,” actually confronting the elements in our lives we are most concerned about? This workshop will describe the "Dark Emotions," and in turn the "wisdom" that comes from exploring them. These "Dark Emotions," which consist of grief, fear and despair, are the ones we most often want to suppress, avoid or deny. They are also the elements at times which keep us “stuck.” After a death or significant loss, how do you live your life, Holding On or Letting Go

How to Recognize When Your Child or Teen May Need Professional Help — Dr. Jon Reid: Although not all bereaved children and teenagers need professional mental health care in order to cope with the death of a loved one, some will indeed need such help in order to cope successfully. This presentation will review the indicators of when professional help is needed. 

In-Laws and Grief — Gloria Horsley: This will be active workshop — bring your in-law issues and concerns. Dealing with in-laws after a loss can be tough. Not all mothers-in-law are controlling, and not all brothers-in-law are lazy. But even if you have problem in-laws, you can learn to change your relationship with them. In fact, once you clear the natural hurdles, you may even learn to like your in-laws! In this workshop, Dr. Gloria Horsley, author of "The In-law Survival Manual and In-laws: A guide to Family Therapy" will demonstrate through living family sculptures how to negotiate common trouble spots — like power, money, and family holidays. 

Mask Making — Sharon Strouse: Masks and mask making are ancient and powerful tools, used in the process of healing and the journey toward wholeness. Evidence of their use can be found on the walls of caves as far back as 12,000 years ago. You will harness your innate gifts of imagination and your ability to create and like your ancestors, use the magic of mask making to explore various aspects of your persona, find new ways to communicate hidden thoughts, feelings and memories, reclaim joy and reopen locked doors. Masks reveal, conceal, and forever memorialize all at the same time. The mask-making process is an opportunity for healing and transformation. Casting material will be used to create an authentic mask of your face. Vaseline will be applied to your face and then wet casting material will be overlaid. This will set and dry for a time and then be removed from your face. You will work in pairs throughout the creative process and share your experience at the end of the workshop. Your mask will dry completely overnight and you will be able to decorate it the following day, in the Artful Grief Studio. 

Metaphors for Healing — Dr. Frank Campbell: This workshop will focus on the benefits of developing accurate metaphors to describe your feelings of loss. This approach to communication when grieving has proven helpful for getting support that is helpful from those who want to be able to provide support and have not had a loss comparable to your loss. This approach allows a different response to "how are you?" than the assumed "I am fine" phrase many see as an expectation by society.

Mind Body Medicine for Healing Trauma — Dr. James Gordon: The sudden death of a loved one is traumatic. It often causes anxiety and agitation and fills our mind with disturbing, as well as loving, memories and images. Sometimes we have difficulty moving ahead with our lives, and with maintaining an intimate connection with others whom we love. This workshop will provide participants with practical techniques for reducing stress, moving beyond emotional and physical stuck places, and balancing love and honor for the one who has died with a mindful embrace of present reality and future possibilities.

Movement Through Grief: What Your Spirit Requires, What Your Body Requests: Emily Munoz and Nichole Bukowski: We know that the anguish of our broken hearts becomes part of our bodies. Moving purposefully through our emotions also invites us to consider what our bodies can release, what they hold onto, and how that makes a difference for how we grieve. This workshop will focus on where we hurt and where we can heal, both physically and emotionally. All movement will be focused on releasing muscle tension and is therefore suitable for any stage in the grief journey and for all levels of fitness. Comfort is real and powerful, and we'll deepen our understanding of what it means and how it feels. 

Moving Forward: Dating, Relationships and Intimacy After Loss: Dr. Carla Stumpf-Patton: Moving forward in our grief and taking the next step toward new relationships and intimacy after loss can bring many confusing emotions and questions. This session is a secure place to explore all of the related questions and concerns, such as learning to trust again, dating after a loss, developing safe relationships, and incorporating new people into the family system. The population best suited for this session is surviving spouses, partners and fiancés. This is not a couples session and is not intended for couples who are already in a relationship together. 

Museum and Monument Off-site Activity:  We will have the opportunity to journey to the National Mall together to reflect and bear witness to the stories from the past. We will be led in several intentional activities designed to learn, reflect, connect with one another as well as those who are a part of our family tree in the past.

The first option is to go to the National Museum of American History and begin with the Star Spangled Banner. The second opportunity will be to begin at the National Gallery of Art where we will view and discuss the Shaw Memorial. The third option will be to begin at the World War II Memorial on the National Mall, and the fourth opportunity will be to start at the Korean War Memorial. These activities will afford time to reflect together followed by an opportunity for free time at the National Mall and Smithsonian Museums.

Non-denominational Christian Sunday Morning Service — Chaplain Doug Windley: North Carolina ANG Chaplain Doug Windley will lead a Sunday worship service entitled, "Being Salt of the Earth in the Wake of Grief." This message will encourage survivors to re-engage in purposeful living through God's strength. Teachings will be based on Matthew 5:13-16. This is not a TAPS-sponsored event, yet TAPS recognizes that spirituality is a critical component toward healing and encourages survivors to connect with their places of worship. 

Parenting Bereaved Children Through Your Own Grief — Rachael Hill: Parenting is hard enough, let alone adding grief into the mix. This workshop will discuss how children understand death at different developmental stages, and how that death understanding can impact their grief. It will also provide resources and tools for you to help them through their grief journey, as well as discuss the importance of self-care for your own well-being while helping your children down this difficult path. 

Pound Fitness: Release, Sweat, Rock — Emily Munoz: It's time to bring a different sound to your grief ... and that is the sound of noise! We won't be tiptoeing quietly around our feelings, we'll be using weighted drumsticks to create a connection between music, movement, and everything you want to let go. Bring your feelings, your frustrations, and readiness to sweat. Modifications exist for all fitness levels. 

Post-Traumatic Growth: Moving from Coping to Thriving — Ben Wolfe, M.Ed., L.I.C.S.W., FT: Situations concerning losses, of any type, are a part of life and occur on a regular basis in the lives of individuals and their families. However, how is it that one can “grow” after a devastating and life-changing crisis or traumatic event? How can one in their “new normal” at some point see the world as still a bright place to live? And, what is the difference between persons who move from coping and surviving, to being transformed and thriving? This workshop will provide strategies and interventions to help individuals and families trying to cope with the opportunities and struggles on the “loss journey.” Interventions dealing with loss in its broadest sense, factors that influence post-traumatic growth, and family make-up and communication styles will be explored in this interactive workshop. 

Preserving Assets for Your Loved Ones After Death, the Legal Process — Tracy Volke: In this session we will discuss estate planning, trusts, wills and other vehicles to transfer assets upon your death. We will also to discuss the probate process and its complications, highlighting mechanisms to avoid the court process. We will discuss common problems people encounter with the court system after death including guardianship and legal complications of minors inheriting property and other assets. Finally, we will discuss the importance of powers of attorney and how they can protect your finances and healthcare wishes as well as protecting your children under age 18. 

Relaxation and Compassion Meditation for Grief — Heather Stang: Grief impacts your physical, mental and emotional body. The Relaxation Response Meditation, developed at Harvard in the late 1960s by cardiologist Dr. Herbert Benson, is proven to temper anxiety, mild to moderate depression, insomnia, nausea, headaches and many other stress-related complaints associated with grief. During the first half of this 90-minute workshop, you will learn this simple yet powerful practice, which includes relaxing breath-work and crafting your personal mantra. Next, you will learn Metta Meditation, also known as the Prayer of Lovingkindness and Compassion. This ancient technique is the systematic practice of sending “well wishes” to six types of people, including yourself, a beloved teacher or spiritual icon, a friend or family member, a neutral person, a difficult person, and finally, all sentient beings. This technique highlights the fact that we all share a desire to be happy, safe and free from suffering, which creates the potential to heal difficult relationships and cultivate gratitude for supportive relationships. Participants will be provided handouts with detailed instructions and links to free guided meditations for home practice. 

Role Modeling Self-Care for the Next Generation — Dr. Frank Campbell: The most challenging concept for many who are struggling to cope with daily demands is self-care.  The concept is intended to be a life jacket on a rough sea and yet most assume this is selfish behavior and not worthy of consideration. Once this concept is clearly understood it can be the life-saving approach to grief it is intended to be. Participants are encouraged to share what they are struggling with on a daily basis in an effort to normalize some of the common issues surrounding loss while looking for new ways to cope through self-care.

Sharing Our Stories: What We Tell Ourselves, Our TAPS Family and the Outside World  Artis Henderson, Kelly Griffith and Rachael Hill, with moderator Andy Weiss: Our stories are important, and we don’t want our loved ones to ever be forgotten. But how we tell our stories matters. In this panel discussion, you’ll hear from other surviving military loved ones on best practices for how we tell our stories through journaling and other creative outlets, how we tell our stories through the TAPS Magazine and blog, and how we tell our stories to the outside world through social media and in books. If you are ready to share your story with others, learn how to go about sharing it and how your writing can contribute to your own healing. Moderated by surviving father Andy Weiss, the panel will include surviving sister and TAPS Magazine Editor Kelly Griffith, surviving spouse and author Artis Henderson, surviving daughter and TAPS Social Media Manager Claire Henline, and surviving spouse Rachael Hill, who has shared her story across various platforms. 

Setbacks: Life’s Tools to Empower Your Future for Young Adults — Renee Monczynski: Join Renee for a refreshing spin on goal setting. Before our loved one's death, we had plans, a future timeline, a road to follow. After that death, what do we do with those plans? Do we follow the planned route out of love for the one we lost? Do we build a new road? All are options, but how do we find what works for us? We have been taught goal setting since grade school, but what do we do when those do not go as planned? Learn how to re-assess, re-group and re-direct those setbacks into a future that works for you instead of against you. 

Siblings Grieve, Too — Dr. Heidi Horsley: Losing a sibling is one of the worst things that can ever happen; it turns your world upside down.  Your sibling is part of your past, and you expect this relationship to continue throughout your lifetime. In this interactive workshop, Heidi will discuss what helped her, after the death of her 17-year-old brother, and what has helped the thousands of bereaved siblings she has worked with. She will also address the unique aspects and challenges of sibling death, and get feedback from participants about issues they are struggling with, and how they have found hope without their brother or sister.

Suicide Survivor Support at TAPS: We’re Here for You — Kim Ruocco, MSW: Suicide loss survivors often experience complex emotions and unique challenges in their grief. This session, with a panel of TAPS Staff Suicide Loss Survivors, will give those coping with a suicide death an opportunity to find comfort in the support of their peers, share their feelings with trusted listeners and learn from the experiences of others.

Sun Salutations Yoga: Get ready to face your day with a gentle yoga practice that will awaken your mind, open your heart and get your body moving. We will use our breath to ease into simple stretches and poses. No yoga experience required. You don't even have to be fully awake to participate! Come join and breathe with us, and together we will rise and shine. Mats provided. 

Supporting Children Who Did Not Know Their Parent — Dr. Carla Stumpf-Patton: For children who cannot remember or did not know their parent, the grieving process can be difficult to understand, as they don’t grieve for what they miss, as much as for what they never had. For the adults raising these children, it can often be challenging to navigate this unfamiliar scenario. This session will allow parents and guardians to explore some of the unique feelings and issues around this family dynamic, such as creating positive memories of the deceased for the child learn about their parent, assisting the child to form their own identity through having a healthy attachment with the deceased parent, and rebuilding the family system when a parent is no longer physically present. 

TAPS Casework Assistance and Education Support Services, We Are Here for You! — Jen Harlow and Ashlynne Haycock: No two stories of military loss are the same, and no two TAPS families deal with the aftermath of grief in the same way. Many of us face mountains of benefit paperwork at a time when we still struggle to face the day. Perhaps your benefits are delayed, you are facing financial struggles, or you looking for education resources. Whatever the situation, TAPS Casework is here to offer you help as you navigate complex processes and unfamiliar requirements. 

The Challenges of a Caregiver’s Grief  — Paul Tschudi: An exploration of the tasks of grief, the factors that affect the journey, what others don't understand, the lonely, haphazard road of caregiving during a loved one’s prolonged illness. Thoughts on reconstructing life after loss and the myth of closure. 

The Power Of Being Kind: Self-Compassion As Self-Care for Grief — Heather Stang: Self-compassion as self-care for grief is the practice of making skillful choices that will reduce suffering and improve the quality of your life. It goes beyond creating healthy habits, such as exercise, a balanced diet, drinking plenty of water and getting the right amount of sleep — though these can all help with grief. This session will explore how an attitude of self-compassion — in other words, relating to yourself as you would a beloved friend — can help you manage difficult emotions, reduce suffering, and even transform your relationship to yourself and others. We will also explore the three core components of self-compassion, and experience a guided meditation designed to open your heart so you can offer loving kindness to yourself.

The Trauma Healing Diet — Dr. James Gordon: Psychological trauma disturbs every aspect of our physiology as well as our psychology. Emotional distress compounds the disturbance to our GI tract and to every aspect of digestion. This workshop provides an overview of the damage that trauma does to our brain and our gut and practical, evidence-based ways to use food, supplements and herbs to repair the GI tract and restore resiliency to our brains. 

Tools for Transformation — Erin Jacobson: In our grief journey there are times when we feel powerless to change the way we feel. Studies have shown that there are simple actions which can improve your wellbeing by improving mood, decreasing stress, decreasing anxiety, decreasing depression and more. If you are feeling stuck, join us as we discuss practical steps you can take at any point in your journey through grief. 

Turning Your Story Into a Book — Artis Henderson: Many of us hope to someday tell our loved one's story, but we're not sure how to begin. This session will teach you how to write a book about your experience. We'll cover narrative structure, talk about scenes and discuss the common mistakes many first-time writers make. This will be a safe, supportive environment for sharing. 

Updates in Suicide Prevention from the Defense Suicide Prevention Office — Dr. Keita Franklin: The Department of Defense will provide an overview of the current efforts that are underway to prevent suicide. The presentation will include an overview of the Institute of Medicine Prevention Continuum and the current methodologies used across the DoD to prevent suicide. Public health strategies across a number of key areas will be reviewed including; media engagement, community-based mental health efforts, evidence-based practices, data and surveillance, research and program evaluation efforts as well as outreach and engagement practices. This presentation will include an in-depth review of the current research projects underway as well as recent research findings that are currently being translated by the services.

What Parents Need to Know About Teen Grief & Young Adult Grief — Dr. Heidi Horsley: Adolescence and young adulthood can be a difficult time, even in the best of situations. This makes coping with the death of a sibling especially stressful. Since society tends to focus on parental grief, bereaved siblings often feel unacknowledged, overlooked, and ignored. This mother/daughter team will talk about the unique aspects of losing a child vs. losing a sibling. This workshop will also address the “dos” and “don’ts” when dealing with teen and young adult grief. Lastly, important issues specific to parenting surviving teens and young adults after the death of a sibling will be discussed. 

What’s New with Federal Survivor Benefits? — Kathy Moakler: There are changes on the horizon for the TRICARE health benefits and for the TRICARE dental benefits that affect eligible surviving family members. TAPS tracks proposed legislation that could impact your benefits as well. Become an informed consumer. Experts from TRICARE will be there to answer your questions and the TAPS survivor advocate will update you on legislation. 

Yes, Men’s Grief is Different — Dr. Frank Campbell: This workshop is intended to be interactive with the participants while describing some of the more traditional ways that men reveal their unique grief. It is a workshop for sharing and caring for those who grieve differently with insight as our goal rather than changing the way others grieve. Discussion and understanding will be a focus and encouraged by those attending. 

Yoga for Stress and Anxiety — Rayanne Hunter: Trauma and long-term stress and anxiety activate the stress response causing chaos in your body. By using yoga, you can increase the relaxation response by encouraging a calm breath, reducing muscle tension, creating body awareness, and promoting sound sleep allowing you to discover and reverse long-term consequences of stress, anxiety and trauma. Yoga and mindfulness practices can help you to better understand, make peace with, manage, and release emotional triggers and feelings, teaching you to stay present with intention, which can relieve you from worrying about the future or the past. All of this transfers off the mat, bringing fresh awareness into your everyday experience. 

12 Step-Style Combined Group Meetings: Open to members of any 12-Step Fellowship, these meetings are being held on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings at 9pm. The meetings will be conducted based on the 12-Step model first developed by Alcoholics Anonymous and will be chaired by Franklin C., a longtime member of several 12-Step Fellowships. TAPS welcomes anyone attending this weekend's survivor seminar who is a member of a 12-Step Fellowship to attend the meetings, but the meetings are not affiliated with TAPS.