Workshop and Program Offerings

If you would like to bring Dr. Attig to your community, please email him: tattigca@earthlink.net

Introduction

Tom on the beach

Thomas Attig has been a highly sought after speaker and workshop presenter on grief and loss and other related topics for thirty years. He has offered

  • keynote presentations
  • invited addresses
  • scholarly lectures
  • workshops
  • panel discussions
  • informal talks
to professional and community audiences across the US, Canada, and Japan as well as in England, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Israel, and Brazil. For details, click on the following links: keynote addresses, workshops, or conference programs.

All of the workshops listed here include

  • emphasis on practical application
  • story-telling and comment
  • occasional brief readings
  • music
  • time for reflection
  • audience participation
  • discussion

They are intended for audiences of

  • professionals
  • volunteers
  • members of support groups
  • caregivers
  • students
  • dying or grieving persons
  • members of the general public


Program Listing

Full-Day Workshops (Also possible as Half-Day Workshops or Evening Programs)

Half-Day Workshops (Also possible as Evening Programs)

Evening Programs



Full-Day Workshops

(Also possible as Half-Day Workshops or Evening Programs)


Catching Your Breath in Grief: A Workshop for Caregivers

This workshop presents whatever wisdom I have acquired in thirty-five years of reflection about the meanings of life, death, and grieving. It unfolds around a universal human story that resonates with experiences of wonder about life; longing for self-understanding; connection, care, and love; loss and suffering; hope that reaches through brokenness and sorrow; and searching for meaning in encounters with mystery themes that thread through the world's great spiritual traditions.

The opening session tells the story of the coming and going of the breath of life: the grace that gives it, its animating power, the life support it provides, and the good reasons why traditions identify it with soul and spirit. And of how, as brokenness and sorrow (grief reaction) come over us, loss takes our breath away. The remaining sessions tell of how, through active engagement with what has happened to us (grieving response), we catch our breath. Sorrow-friendly practices enable us to breathe into our suffering and learn from it. We draw upon hope and the resilience of soul and spirit. We learn to carry sorrow. We relearn the worlds of our experience (our surroundings, our selves, and our place in the great scheme of things). And we learn to love in separation through memory and embracing legacies.

Workshop participants well be shown how to

  • distinguish soulful and spiritual dimensions of the breath of life
  • describe how the bereaved gasp for breath in the brokenness, sorrow, and crisis of grief reaction
  • describe how the bereaved catch their breath through the active reengagement with life in grieving response
  • support the breath of life in family members, friends, colleagues, and clients as they experience brokenness, sorrow, and crisis; actively engage with what has happened; and learn to live in a world changed profoundly by loss.


How to Find Lasting Love: The Heart of Grief

Grieving is not about letting go or closure. Yes, a life has come to a close. But we will always miss those we mourn. And we will never forget them. As we grieve, we struggle to find ways to hold them in our hearts in life-affirming ways. We reach through the pain of grief to reweave the web of connections in our daily lives, redirect our life stories, and thrive again in lives profoundly changed by our having known them.

Nothing is more important than these efforts to find lasting love. And, in the end, nothing is more rewarding.

Workshop participants will be shown how to

  • make the transition from loving in presence to loving in separation
  • temper the pain of missing those they love
  • feel the sustaining love of those they mourn as they identify their legacies
  • express their own continuing love as they cultivate and use those legacies
  • hold those they mourn in their memories, practical lives, souls, and spirits
  • help family members, friends, colleagues, and clients to find lasting love


How to Relearn the World: Guidance for Grieving Souls and Spirits

Grieving is not a process of passively living through stages. Nor is it a clinical problem to be solved or managed by others. When we grieve, we relearn how to be and act in a world where loss transforms the fabric of our lives. We revive our souls as we return home to the familiar. And we revive our spirits as we stretch into the new.

No two of us experience the world of our experience or our relationships with loved ones in exactly the same way. So it is vital that caregivers respect the individuality of those they serve and the uniqueness of their experiences of love and loss.

Workshop participants will be shown how to

  • find the motivation to do the difficult work of relearning
  • return to meaningful engagement with things and places left behind
  • recover and sustain meaningful connections with others
  • relearn one's self, including daily life patterns and the meanings of personal life stories
  • transform and sustain love for the deceased
  • help family members, friends, colleagues, and clients to relearn their worlds
  • respect the individuality of those they serve


How to Care for Grieving Souls and Spirits: Grief Counseling Revisited

More is required to meet the particular needs of those who grieve than presence and good listening. This workshop focuses on how caregivers and grief counselors can use the skills of parents, teachers, and mentors when they are most effective in helping others address life's most difficult challenges.

Workshop participants will be shown how to

  • respect the individuality of mourners
  • help them understand the challenges they face and draw upon or develop the practical know-how to meet them
  • motivate them do the difficult work of grieving
  • support them as they reach through pain to life affirmation
  • help them return home to, and find enduring meanings in, the familiar
  • support them in making new meanings as they reshape their daily lives and redirect their life stories
  • help them move from loving in presence to loving in separation


Half-Day Workshops

(Also possible as Evening Programs)


Grief Reactions and Sorrow-Friendly Practices

Grief reactions (the sorrows that come over us when a loved one dies) contain wisdom about our deepest needs. Ego pride and social pressures read such reactions as signs of weakness and things to "get over" as quickly as possible lest our grief "get the best of us."

Mindfully opening to and befriending sorrow are at once soulful and spiritual. Soulful in that they are patient and respectful responses that make us more at home with our deep selves as they make the workings, needs, and strivings of ego, soul, and spirit more transparent. And spiritual in that they are hopeful and meaning-seeking responses to sorrow as they seek healing and growth through dialogue with the reactions that enables us to live in ways that more fully express our soul's deepest cares and our spirit's highest aspirations.

Extraordinary life events call for extraordinary responses. Sorrow-friendly practices take us away from usual patterns in daily life, allowing sorrow to flow rather than blocking it and attending to sorrow in ways that enable its wisdom to emerge. Sorrow-friendly practices include seeking counsel from others, using ritual and ceremony, keeping a journal, meditating on emotions, body-work, catching dreams, engaging with unconscious images, seeking meaning in unusual experiences, using the arts, surrendering in silence to mystery, breathing into the deep rhythms of life, leaning into faith, and opening the heart in prayer.

Workshop participants will be shown how to

  • appreciate the value of opening to what brokenness and sorrow can teach
  • describe sorrow-friendly practices as at once soulful and spiritual
  • use sorrow-friendly practices as they respond to their own bereavement and grief reaction
  • support family members, friends, colleagues, and clients in the use of sorrow-friendly practices


How to Find and Make Meaning in Funerals and Other Ceremonies of Separation

This workshop focuses on how funerals and other ceremonies of separation at the time of death and after can be shaped to meet the needs of those who grieve. It is built on the assumption that such ceremonies serve three main functions: to support the expression and sharing of sorrow, to begin the process of learning to love in separation; and to support mourners in taking vital first steps in relearning the worlds of their experience.

Workshop participants will be shown how to plan and experience ceremonies in ways that will help them to

  • overcome helplessness
  • acknowledge and express the pain of loss and missing those they mourn
  • remember those they mourn and identify legacies they still hold
  • start finding their way in the world without those they mourn by their sides
  • take beginning steps toward loving those they mourn in separation


Evening Programs

Evening programs for public or professional audiences can be offered on any of the workshop topics described here. They typically include time for discussion, questions and answers. You may want to arrange for Tom to speak in the evening on one topic and follow with a workshop the next day.