“Healing through Humanism: Grief Beyond Belief and the Secular Support Movement”

Following the death of her infant son, she recognized a need for grief-support services free of the constant references to heaven, angels, spirits and signs that dominate mainstream grief support. When she did not find the kind of community she needed among the many grief-support sites on the internet, Rebecca created Grief Beyond Belief, an online community in which grieving non-believers gather to share their memories, experiences and emotions, including their anger and frustration with religious and spiritual “comfort.” The network that she founded now includes a Facebook page, a closed Facebook group, and an independent website, and collaborates with a variety of affiliates from a secular pet-loss group to a Portuguese-language grief-support group out of Brazil.

Rebecca will speak on the needs of those grieving without faith and the comfort offered by secular peer-to-peer grief support, how Humanism informs secular grief support and helps nonbelievers learn to live with grief, the role of the growing secular support movement in the broader freethought community, and expansion of Grief Beyond Belief from the internet into real-life grief-support workshops. Following her talk, Rebecca will welcome questions about surviving and healing from grief as a nonbeliever, as well as about Grief Beyond Belief itself.

Rebecca Hensler is the founder of secular grief support network Grief Beyond Belief. She has a BA in Political Activism and an MS in Counseling, and works as a middle school dean in San Francisco.

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