Certificate program prepares professionals to support the dying, bereaved
Madeline Lambrecht


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8:42 a.m., Nov. 5, 2010----The University of Delaware College of Health Sciences and the Delaware End-of-Life Coalition (DEOLC) have formed an educational partnership to offer an online certificate program called “Special Topics in Thanatology: Dying, Death and Bereavement.”

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The course is intended for psychologists, clergy, educators, nurses, physicians, social workers, counselors, hospice staff and others involved in providing services and support to dying individuals and families and the bereaved.

Presented by experts in the field of thanatology -- broadly defined as the study of dying, death and bereavement -- the program includes three segments. The first is a primer on grief, the second addresses issues and interventions related to complicated and disenfranchised grief, and the third is a capstone experience requiring participants to synthesize information from the other two segments in a project applicable to professional practice.

Madeline Lambrecht, professor emeritus in UD's School of Nursing and current president of DEOLC, coordinated the development of the program and will facilitate the capstone experience for all registrants. Certified as a fellow in thanatology by the international Association for Death Education and Counseling, she is an expert in death education and grief counseling as well as in distance education.

“End-of-life issues impact the practice of all healthcare professionals,” Lambrecht says. “Most healthcare education programs provide general information about loss but not the specific information needed for professionals to provide appropriate, compassionate care. We partnered with DEOLC to ensure that this information is widely available to practitioners.”

“Our program is very specific,” she adds, “and it includes some very explicit photos that many people will find disturbing. But this is what professionals need if they're going to be effective in the face of death and grieving. These are very difficult concepts to simulate, but we believe that our program provides a realistic view of the issues faced by people who are dying or have lost a loved one.”

The course covers a broad range of topics, including bereavement in children and teens, perinatal bereavement, military deaths and their impact on survivors, and companion animal loss.

The lectures are presented on DVD-ROM, with supplemental materials available on a password-protected website. The information is presented in a modular format for easy access.

To learn more about the course or to register, visit the website or call (302) 831-8370.

About the Delaware End-of-Life Coalition

DEOLC brings together educators, clergy, health professionals and community partners to stimulate public and professional awareness, share knowledge, and create change so that every Delawarean is aware of issues and choices related to the end of life. The organization recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. For more information, visit the DEOLC website.

Article by Diane Kukich