More than 150 doctors, social workers, medical technicians, and a few funeral directors gathered on Wednesday at the University of Michigan Hospital for my Grief Awareness Week keynote speech, “Laughing in the Face of Death: Movies, Medicine and Mortality.”
Leading up to the event, two public radio stations did interviews with me about the concept of laughter to break down barriers to discussing end-of-life issues. Check out Michigan Radio’s story, Death Expert: Talking About Funerals Won’t Kill You, on the Stateside program, and on WEMU’s local All Things Considered program, It’s a Fact of Life: A Conversation With A Death Educator On Laughing in the Face of Death.
Check out the funny film clip collection on death and funerals that started the talk here.
Grief Awareness Week at the University of Michigan Health System is co-chaired by Lisbeth Harcourt, MSW, LMSW, Program Manager Office of Decedent Affairs, and Susan Sefansky, LMSW, ACSW, UMHS Social Work Manager at the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office, and the previous Program Manager Office of Decedent Affairs.
Afterward, Lisbeth and Susan commented:
“There’s been an overwhelmingly positive response to Gail Rubin as the keynote speaker at the University of Michigan Health System’s Grief Awareness Week. Her presentation ‘Laughing in the Face of Death: Movies, Medicine and Mortality’ incorporated a memorable collection of comedic and dramatic film clips in her talk about reactions to death in the hospital setting.”
“She skillfully taught us about mastering our emotional reactions to death and communicating with patients and families around serious diagnoses. We highly recommend Gail Rubin as a speaker who can educate while entertaining a diverse range of audiences.”
As a Certified Thanatologist, I was in good company. Previous keynote speakers at the past two Grief Awareness Week events were noted grief educator Dr. Alan Wolfelt and pioneering clinical psychologist and thanatologist, Dr. Terese Rando.
After the talk, my hosts took me on a tour of the morgue at the hospital. Of course, The Doyenne of Death found it to be a fascinating visit!
Many thanks to all the fine folks in Ann Arbor who made Grief Awareness Week a big success.