Inspired by the new anthology Superhero Grief: The Transformative Power of Loss, this discussion will illuminate how the stories of fantasy characters in comics, film, and other media help us cope with loss and promote healing. After experiencing adversity and loss, Batman, Black Panther, Spiderman, and other beloved fantasy characters embark on a quest – a “superhero’s journey” similar to the one described by mythologist Joseph Campbell – which ultimately leads them to self-awareness and emotional growth. Speakers include Dr. Jill Harrington, social worker, author, and Superhero Grief co-editor; Dr. Tashel Bordere, a scholar of human development whose research focuses on grief and loss among African American youth; Joyal Mulheron, founder of Evermore, a nonprofit dedicated to making the world a more livable place for bereaved families; and Yona Harvey, poet and co-writer of Marvel’s World of Wakanda and Black Panther & The Crew.
Grief, Growth, and Justice
This program is part of a series produced in conjunction with Reimagine’s spring 2022 season Grief, Growth, and Justice: a group of workshops, talks, and conversations that explore the intersection of justice with post-traumatic growth, a body of research demonstrating that those who experience adversity and loss can achieve personal strength, optimism, meaningful relationships, appreciation of life, and spirituality. Featuring guest speakers from diverse fields such as psychology, organizational development, art, and activism, the series examines how volunteerism, civic engagement, activism, and other acts of service and justice can facilitate growth and healing on both personal and collective levels. Reimagine’s organizational partner Holistic Underground has provided this guiding principle of justice: "a state of integrity and wholeness, achieved through healing and transformation. When justice is present, we can trust that our safety and well-being are valued in a community or society."
Dr. Tashel Bordere
Dr. Tashel Bordere has spent years researching the grief experience of black youth affected by homicide and gun violence. While many grieving people can relate to their grief being disregarded, for black youth and youth with marginalized identities, their grief not only goes unacknowledged, but is often penalized. Their behaviors and reactions, which are normal responses to grief, are met not with support and understanding, but with negative labels and punishment. This results in a concept Dr. Bordere has identified as suffocated grief and is rooted in systems of oppression and discrimination. Dr. Bordere, PhD, CT is a Certified Thanatologist and Assistant Professor of Human Development & Family Science at the University of Missouri. She is also a Robert Wood Johnson Forward Promise Fellow and the author of numerous research papers and publications focused on black youth affected by homicide, gun violence, and race-based trauma. She is the co-editor of the Handbook of Social Justice in Loss and Grief (Routledge, 2016)
Dr. Jill Harrington
Jill A. Harrington, DSW, LCSW is an Adjunct Professor for the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Washington DC Campus as well as a Part-Time Lecturer for Rutgers University School of Social Work. Dr. Harrington also maintains an active clinical counseling practice in the Greater Washington DC Area. She earned her Doctorate in Social Work from The University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice, Philadelphia, PA and is one of the first published authors on the subject of bereavement in U.S. military families. She has been a practicing social worker for over twenty years and has had a special focus on trauma, loss and bereavement. Dr. Harrington is a former Senior Director of Field Research for Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS) Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress (CSTS), Bethesda, Maryland and has been a consultant to Columbia University Center for Complicated Grief. Dr. Harrington is active on many national and international committees and working groups, addressing bereavement, clinical practice and grief awareness and education. She is a member of The National Association of Social Workers, The American Association of Suicidology as well as a former Board Member (2011-2014) for the Association for Death Education & Counseling and currently serves as the Chair of the Conference Committee, Concurrent Program. In her career, she has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. She is the creator and lead editor of the new, creative textbook, entitled, Superhero Grief: The Transformative Power of Loss (2021), published by Routledge.
Yona Harvey is the author of two poetry collections--You Don’t Have to Go to Mars for Love (winner of the Believer Book Award for Poetry) and Hemming the Water (winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award)--and a 2022 Guggenheim Fellow. She co-wrote Marvel’s World of Wakanda, a companion series to the bestselling Black Panther comic, and co-wrote Marvel's Black Panther & The Crew. She has worked with teenagers writing about mental health issues in collaboration with Creative Nonfiction magazine and the Staunton Farm Foundation. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. www.yonaharvey.com
Ms. Mulheron spent 15+ years advising high-ranking politicians, including former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and former First Lady Michelle Obama, and translating basic science into public policy. She has enjoyed leading major initiatives for the National Governors Association, the National Academies of Science and the American Cancer Society. She holds a Masters in Biotechnology from Johns Hopkins University and degrees in Biochemistry and English from Virginia Tech. After a series of high-profile death events and the death of her daughter, Ms. Mulheron founded Evermore to change policy, advance research and make the world a more livable place for bereaved families.