African-Americans and Grief

African-Americans and Grief
Program Description
Bereavement and grief are universal phenomena. Nonetheless, there are a number of
cultural factors, including more persistent cycles of violence and higher rates of premature
death, that contribute to a qualitatively different experience of grief and loss for many
African Americans. This workshop explores historical, psychological, and cultural
perspectives of African Americans and examines how these factors influence the
experiences of grief and loss. Additionally, this workshop will offer providers insight into
more effective interventions with grieving African Americans and their families.
Learning Objectives
Upon completion of this workshop, participants should be able to:
Explain forms and theories of grief;
Describe African American contexts in which grief occurs;
Examine signs of grief and mourning in African American culture;
Demonstrate an understanding of the similarities and differences between African
American grief and grief expressed in mainstream U.S. culture;
5. Discuss effective grief support for African Americans.
Target Audience
All health care professionals who engage African-American consumers, particularly
mental health professionals
Contact Hours
Up to 6.0 contact hours
Program Agenda
9:00-10:30 am
10:30-10:45 am
10:45 am-12:15 pm
12:15-1:15 pm
1:15-2:45 pm
3:00-4:30 pm
Conceptualization and Contexts of Grief
Health Disparities and Premature Deaths among African Americans
Theories of Grief
Addressing Grief in Families
Connections between Grief and Psychological Suffering
Recognizing Expressions of Mourning among African Americans
Understanding Connections between Traumatic Grief and
Functional Impairment
Practical Clinical Interventions
Salient Grief Supports and Resources
Dr. Tonya D. Armstrong is the founder and CEO of The Armstrong Center for Hope
(, an interdisciplinary group practice cultivating psychological
and spiritual wellness for all ages. Dr. Armstrong is a graduate of Yale University, where
she double-majored in psychology and music. From UNC-Chapel Hill, she earned
master’s and doctoral degrees in clinical psychology with a focus on child, adolescent, and
family issues, and subsequently earned a master’s degree in Theological Studies (magna
cum laude) from Duke Divinity School. She then joined the faculty at Duke Divinity
School where for five years she taught courses in pastoral care and provided leadership to
the student, pediatric, and grief and bereavement initiatives of the Duke Institute on Care at
the End of Life. Dr. Armstrong has published consistently in the areas of spirituality,
African-American mental health, end-of-life care, and grief, and focuses clinically on
interventions that optimize mental health for children, adolescents, and their families.