4th Annual Living Memories Project Conference


4th Annual Living Memories Project Conference



Register here

JASA Staff - Register here

About the Living Memories Project

Meryl Ain embarked on The Living Memories Project, after she lost both her father and mother within 18 months. With her husband, Stewart, and her brother, Arthur M. Fischman, they set out to learn how others celebrated how their loved ones lived, rather than focusing on how they died.

The Living Memories Project details through interviews, anecdotes, essays, poems, photographs, and the many ways that both ordinary individuals and celebrities incorporate the presence of their departed loved ones into their lives. Some who have shared their stories describe instances when they strongly and viscerally felt their loved one’s presence, while others have drawn upon rituals or created a tangible memorial to comfort themselves.


The main objective of the conference is to empower participants with new tools for providing professional, competent, and compassionate care to those who are grieving or bereft.

Who Should Attend?

social workers • psychologists • nurses • clergy • mental health practitioners • chaplains • educators • students • volunteers

Social Work Continuing Education Credits

Social Workers will receive 3 CEs for this conference. Jewish Association for Services for the Aged is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #SW-0643.


Professionals $50.00

Full Time Student $15.00


9:00am—9:30am Welcome Remarks


Lori Hardoon, LCSW, JASA Senior Director Palliative Care Supportive Services

Meryl Ain, Ed. D. Co-Author of The Living Memories Project: Legacies That Last and Author of My Living Memories  Project Journal

Alan Cohen, MPA, JASA’s Chief Program Officer

9:30am—11:00am   Keynote

Keynote Speaker

Christine Gallo, LMSW, GC – C, YTT – 200

Un-Complicating the Grief Journey: The Power of Upstream Intervention

Christine is a Social Worker, Certified Bereavement Counselor and Vinyasa trained Yoga teacher who serves as the Palliative Medicine and Bereavement Counselor for Peconic Bay Medical Center, Northwell Health’s eastern most Long Island hospital. Through her role, Christine provides Social Work supports to individuals and their families as they navigate chronic and life-limiting illnesses. In addition, using a multi-modal, holistic approach to grief, Christine coordinates the hospital’s Bereavement Plan of Care, conducting Anticipatory Grief and Complicated Grief Assessments, providing group, individual and family counseling and organizing bereavement workshops throughout the year. Lastly, Christine has passionately designed and presented on-going, unique, engaging educational models that empower interdisciplinary professionals to identify and take an active role in mitigating risk factors for Complicated Grief prior to the occurrence of loss.

Driven by a passion for work in bereavement rooted in her own experience of loss, Christine lives in eastern Long Island with her husband Frank and two children, Chelsea and Shane. Christine greets each day personally and professionally cultivated by the monumental lessons that her daughter – all without ever speaking a single word – taught her about the sacred dance of life and loss.


  • Participants will be able to identify the definitions and explanations for concepts related to grief and identify the trajectory of an uncomplicated grief journey.
  • Participants will be able to identify the difference between an uncomplicated grief journey and a complicated grief journey and conceptualize the innovative research which informs important risk factors to be aware of for those who will experience complicated grief.
  • Participants will be able to understand how to recognize these in those that they support and impact them upstream during an illness/disease process to reduce the propensity and intensity of complicated grief upon the loss of their loved one.
  • Participants will review a cinematic case study and learn to put a concrete tool to use in collecting and gathering information in regards to the identified risk factors and collectively explore and process possible interventions to address.

11:00am—11:15am Break

11:15-12:45pm Concurrent Sessions


Session 1: Why a Group? Group Therapy and the Bereavement Process

Many who are bereaved seek clinical support during this difficult time in their lives.  Grievers often question “why a group?” or “am I right for a group?”  Clinicians also struggle with these questions for their clients as well as how to best develop and facilitate groups.  Participants in this workshop will learn about group therapy and its significant place in the bereavement process.  This workshop will review the literature on group therapy as well as discuss types of bereavement groups, who is appropriate for groups and who is not, and how groups are organized and facilitated. Assessment tools and therapeutic techniques will be illustrated using the model of a spousal/partner loss bereavement group.


Jane Slevin, LMFT Director, Pathways to Care, Westchester Jewish Community Services


Michelle Cimetta, LMSW, Palliative Care Social Worker, JASA


  • Define group therapy and support and its effects on the bereavement process
  • Provide evidence-based research and clinical case work supporting the efficacy of group therapy for bereavement support
  • Delineate tools and techniques to support clinicians, chaplains, nurses and others providing bereavement support

Session 2: Shared Trauma- We are All in the Storm but in Different Boats

This workshop will provide support to clinicians coping with shared trauma as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic while providing grief/bereavement counseling to their clients.  We will explore different evidenced-based strategies and tools in reducing the clinician’s shared trauma, compassion fatigue, and burnout.


Maria Lever,  LMSW, Clinical Supervisor Palliative Care Supportive Services, JASA

Heidi R. Weiss, LMSW, MHA, Healthcare Social Worker Jewish Programs, Westchester Jewish Community Services


  • Define and identify what “Shared Trauma” is
  • Provide evidence-based research and clinical case work examples
  • Gain a greater understanding of both individual and workplace evidenced-based strategies and tools in reducing shared trauma, compassion fatigue and burnout

Session 3: Anticipatory Grief- The Gradual Reality of Impending Loss

This workshop will provide attendees with a framework to define anticipatory grief with a greater understanding of the similarity/differences to grief after loss.  Explore the theories that can help us understand this process and these differences (attachment theory, object relations theory and others). Anticipatory Grief through the lens of the COVID 19 Pandemic.


Lori Hardoon, LCSW, Senior Director Palliative Care Supportive Services, JASA

Judith Pollack, LCSW, Private Practitioner


  • Define and identify what anticipatory grief is and the similarities and the differences to grief after a loss.
  • Define and identify attachment and object relations theories. Develop an understanding of these theories on the anticipatory grief process.
  • Develop an understanding of anticipatory grief through the lens of the pandemic and its impact physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Session 4: Suicide Loss:  Helping Individuals and Families Cope in the Wake of a Suicide

Death by suicide is an extremely traumatic and complicated loss.  This workshop will provide attendees with an understanding of the scope of the problem among the general and specific, high-risk populations, signs to help identify and intervene when a suicide is possible, and how to work with those who survive a suicide.   


Kathy Rosenthal, LCSW, Senior Vice President for Programs, Family Service League, Inc.

Robyn Berger-Gaston, LCSW-R, Division Director, Family Service League, Inc.


  • Understanding the scope of the problem
  • Recognizing risk factors
  • Strategies to support individuals and families in the wake of suicide

Session 5: Mindfulness and Grief - The Bereavement Process

The process of grief and bereavement looks different for everyone. Many coping skills can be used to help overcome the loss of a loved one by redefining what life looks like now. Mindfulness is one of those coping methods that will be discussed in this session, along with how to teach it to clients you may work with.


Jaclyn McCarthy, LMHC, CASAC 2, Division Director of Care Coordination and Assertive Community Treatment (ACT), Central Nassau Guidance and Counseling Services

Catherine Clarke, BA, Project Manager in the Health Home Care Management Department, Central Nassau Guidance and Counseling Services


Kristine Hoschler, LMSW, Palliative Care Social Worker, JASA


  • Participants will be able to identify what mindfulness is, what the intention is while practicing and the benefits of consistent practice
  • Participants will learn how mindfulness can be used as a coping method for grief
  • Participants will learn how to teach mindfulness to others for their use as a coping method