My Experience at the 2015 International Death, Grief and Bereavement Conference in Lacrosse, Wisconsin

This was the first time attending this conference, and the moment I walked in, I was welcomed in a very warm manner by Dr. Gerry Cox, who is the Chair of the conference. Then I saw my dear friend, Dr. Dick Gilbert, whom I met many years ago when I joined ADEC and was the person who introduced me to IGBC. I am so grateful he did! I expected the experience to be great and… it was more than great…it was awesome!

It was a spiritual and uplifting experience, because, besides the excellent material shared at the conference, there was a special bond among the attendees who came from different places. There was a moment in where we just laughed and laughed, and this is the anecdote I want to share with you here.

After having a succulent dinner with our colleagues, our group, five women who became friends, went to have ice cream at Pearl Street, in downtown Lacrosse. As we where

parking, there was a group of people sitting on the sidewalk, having ice cream. After getting out of the car and getting ready to enter the ice cream parlor, this group of people asked us where from we were coming.

Of course, they realized we were not La-Cross Residents. So, we started talking and letting them know we came from different places, such as London, Texas, and Miami, and that we were attending a conference. Then, they asked, What conference is this? A Death and Dying Conference, we responded. If you could have seen their faces (first, because we live in a society where we do not talk about death, and second, because we were just laughing so much)! This group of people could not understand the fact that despite attending such conference and working with the bereaved, we could be so joyful, happy, and grateful for life.

Then I asked them, it sounds like an oxymoron right? Attending a death and dying conference and being able to laugh so much. As we sat down and reflected on their reaction, we came to realize that yes, working with bereavement, death and dying, can be very painful at times. However, it is this realization that life is frail that makes us enjoy it so much! It is not about being sad or depressed for our finite life; it is to live it fully, with hope, love, and gratitude.

So, enjoy your day today, enjoy your life every single day, by making it special. Even if it seems insignificant, it is not, because you are special, and YOUR LIFE IS A GIFT.
See you next year, Lacrosse!

Remember Your Life Has Meaning!

Ligia M. Houben

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