Basic Training

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20th Memorial

“Heal the community by healing the individuals and in this way, resurrect the sense of community fundamental to the mental health of the individual.”

— Herman Kaal —

Grief and loss are occupational realities for AIDS Service Organizations (ASOs/CBAOs).

Since 1994, this program has been assisting community-based ASOs in their responses to HIV/AIDS-related multiple loss through support, training, research and collaboration.

The Training Manual is based on ABRPO’s program components developed over our first decade, from 350 workshops for 214 agencies with 3,496 participants.

This step-by-step Manual contains:

  • a facilitator training guide
  • defined workshop agendas
  • relevant assessment tools
  • presentation and educational materials

It provides a comprehensive synthesis of grief, multiple loss and transition theory in the context of AIDS. These accessible materials provide a solid orientation for ASO staff, boards and volunteers.

Workshop Foundations

Loss Work as Teambuilding: Why do grief training with agency personnel?

  • Because working in AIDS is working in loss, an AIDS agency is a grief agency. In order for the organization to be healthy, it must deal with grief at the organizational level.
  • Organizations will have staff with varying experiences of loss, and these experiences will impact the workplace. All staff will be in a roller-coaster state of anticipated loss with regard to the HIV+ people they know and to whom they are attached.
  • Participant‘s personal and collective learning has ripple effects through to their clients and the larger community.

Responses of Workers Dealing with Loss

Research of Canadian AIDS Workers (2000-2002) identified that Workers Experience:

  • Sadness, Depression, Numbness, Anger
  • Psychic Numbing: social isolation
  • Living with the “Death Imprint”
  • Survivor Guilt
  • Struggle for Meaning

Organizational Symptoms:

  • Staff Turnover and Burnout
  • Impaired Care and Communication amongst Staff Conventional training leaves workers painfully unprepared to deal with grief saturation.

Training Objectives

  • To normalize grieving as an integral part of AIDS work.
  • To normalize and acknowledge the discomfort of, and desire to avoid doing grief work.
  • To facilitate some ‘unpacking’ of aspects of accumulated grief (stories, feelings, anticipated losses) and thereby “lighten the load”.
  • To support existing coping strategies and offer the opportunity for developing new skills.
  • To give workers the opportunity to practice “saying good-bye” using a model for closure that they can incorporate into their lives.