Annual Professional Conference on Grief & Loss

13th Annual Professional Conference on Grief & Loss: Transformative Grief

Virtual Conference – Thursday, October 17th

Join us for our 13th Annual Professional Conference on Grief & Loss, featuring Keynote Presenter Laurel Hilliker, PhD, FT

This virtual conference is open to and appropriate for those who work in the fields of counseling, palliative care, hospice, funeral services, and more. Continuing education credits available. Click here to register!

Transformative Grief

Dr. Laurel Hilliker released her first book, Grief-Stricken: Stories of Altered Loss in a Pandemic Haze, in the fall of 2023. This personal account of loss in her own family is also a teaching memoir intended to help others who experienced multiple losses in the pandemic years. Dr. Hililiker will focus her keynote on the transformative experience of grief.


From Dr. Hilliker:
“I am thrilled at the opportunity for this collaboration and to speak at the upcoming 13th Annual Professional Conference on Grief & Loss. My background, which includes published peer-reviewed research in the areas of death, dying and bereavement; director of a center to advance the study of loss and developer/ instructor for a college course on wellness in the face of grief and loss, aligns well with Hospice of Davidson County’s efforts to keep current through state-of-the art offerings to those who work in this field.  It is critical for professionals to know the latest research findings and challenges as they provide care to patients and families who are faced with life-limiting illnesses.  For this very reason, I was interested in the collaboration as we obviously share values and goals to assist in alleviating suffering endured before, during and after a family death.”


Registration is $30 per participant for this virtual conference. Continuing Education Units are available for this conference by the North Carolina Board of Funeral Services and the National Board of Certified Counselors. Click here to register!

Credentials for accessing this virtual conference will be provided approximately one week prior to the event.

Dr. Laurel Hilliker

Dr. Laurel Hilliker has 17 years of experience as a collegiate lecturer and has developed curriculum and taught college courses in the disciplines of sociology and public health.  She is now teaching in a Public Health and Health Sciences Department which includes a course she developed related to her research interests, Wellness in the Face of Loss, offered for both undergraduates and graduates enrolled in college programs.  Dr. Hilliker also operates her own consulting business, Bearing Loss, Grief Education and Consulting.  This business is the result of her continued desire to provide education for the bereaved and their families, as well as for the professionals who assist them.

Dr. Hilliker earned her Master’s and her doctorate in the discipline of sociology from Michigan State University, with a concentration in health and well-being and a specialization in the field of grief and bereavement studies. She is certified in thanatology and now has earned a Fellow in Thanatology status from the Association for Death Education and Counseling.

Previous work experience includes a position as Assistant Professor of Sociology for Park University in the Kansas City, Missouri area [2012-2015].  At the same time, she gained grant funds and assumed the role of Executive Director of the Center to Advance the Study of Loss [CASL].  She established and operated CASL at Park.  As Director of the Center, she developed workshops for professionals and curriculum [a minor and a Certificate of Thanatology] for students wanting to specialize in end-of-life care.

Prior to academia, she practiced as a Paralegal in a law office whose specialization was in Probate, Wills and Estates.  In part, this work experience was a catalyst for her current research interests, namely, end of life care, support for the bereaved population, the sociology of loss and self-care strategies during caregiving and after loss.

She has written columns for Faith Catholic Magazine and is published in several journals, including Death Studies, Illness, Crisis & Loss, An International Journal for Those Who Help Bereaved People, Taylor & Francis Group, and Omega.  Her most recent publication is her new book:  Grief-Stricken:  Stories of Altered Loss in a Pandemic Haze, published by Covenant Books and available wherever books are sold.  It is a teaching memoir which captures the stories of loss within her own family in 2020 with excerpts from those who lost a daughter, a husband, a mother and a brother.  Through these narratives, Dr. Hilliker explores how the pandemic has altered the grieving process. The haze of uncertainty, isolation, and collective loss has reshaped rituals, ceremonies, and the very fabric of mourning. Each story reflects the resilience, vulnerability, and humanity of those who grapple with grief in extraordinary times.

In her personal life, she enjoys reading, long walks along the shoreline of any body of water and sunsets.  She is the mother of four grown children and delights in spending time with her grandchildren.  She lives in Michigan with her husband Kevin.