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YU News

Felsen Delivers Webinar on the Holocaust and Loss

Dr. Irit FelsenDr. Irit Felsen, adjunct professor at Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, began an online free webinar on October 8 hosted and supported by MJHS Hospice and Palliative Care, the largest hospice provider in New York State under Jewish auspices.

Titled “Grief and Renewal After the Loss of a Holocaust Survivor,” Dr. Felsen explained that the six-part series “addresses how the way children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors often respond to loss differently has shaped our lives and will help us answer: What happens now? How do you reconcile your loss when you have been focused on your loved ones for so long? How do you carry out the legacy for your loved one?”

“A common theme identified in the literature as characteristic of children of Holocaust survivors,” noted Dr. Felsen, “is their unique familiarity with death, yet not with natural death.” The pervasive presence of genocidal loss in the family atmosphere and the absence of older generations in the extended family has left the second generation with a perception of death only as an ominous, horrible catastrophe, and without any models for a natural and relatively peaceful end of life.

“As a child of Holocaust survivor parents and a clinician who has been working with Holocaust survivors and their families for the past 30 years, I have shared many of the transitions with my fellow ‘second generation’ peers, and this webinar aims at creating a safe space for children of survivors to share with others.” The webinar offers strategies to cope with the loss by integrating lessons from the survivors themselves, from studies about resilience and post-traumatic growth and from research in Positive Psychology and self-compassion.