Dave Opalewski is President of Grief Recovery Inc., in Saginaw, Michigan, a certified Death and Dying and Suicide
Prevention Instructor for Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. He is also a certified support
group facilitator and child trauma specialist, along with being a 33 year veteran of K-12 education; 25 years as
a classroom teacher and 8 years as the Director of At-Risk Programs. He worked 3 years part time in a funeral
home as an aftercare consultant, working with families of the deceased and pioneered the Saginaw County
Aftercare Adult Support Group. He is ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) trained. His published
books include 15-Minute Focus – GRIEF: Processing and Recovery, Confronting Death in the School Family, and
many others. Dave Opalewski has been published several times in professional journals and is a highly sought
after speaker at state and national conferences conducting professional development trainings for several school
districts throughout the Country. He was recognized as the “2010 Advocate of the Year” at Central Michigan
University for guiding college freshman and a nominee for the 2010/11 and 2012/13 “Excellence in Education”
Award. He has recently retired as Professor Emeritus for Central Michigan University in the Teacher Education and
Professional Development Department.
This session is designed to assist school staff to develop appropriate and helpful procedures and policies in dealing with tragedy for students, as well as themselves, as they care for the school family. The afternoon portion of the workshop explores helpful concepts in understanding children grief and adolescent grief, as well as basic grief theory. It is not the expression, but the suppression of feelings that is most harmful when going through a painful loss. When working with grieving children and adolescents, we discover their two greatest needs are for trust and truth. This presentation will help participants expand their knowledge and skills in guiding children and adolescents through the grief process.
This session will explore the prevalence and difference of these self-destructive behaviors. Learn how to distinguish between suicidal (lethal) and non-suicidal (non-lethal) behaviors, and learn about a three step process used in working with a suicidal person (why and how). Come and discover coping techniques which can be taught to someone who is self-injurious. Also, learn how to help parents to appropriately support a suicidal or self-injurious child. Misconceptions associated with suicidal and self-injurious behaviors, risk factors for youth who self-injure and postvention (creating healing and encouraging school environments in response to these issues) will also be discussed.