Coping with Loss in Older Adult Communities


Loss can be experienced in many ways as we grow older. The most obvious loss is a death of a family member or friend. There are other kinds of losses, however, such as the loss of connection to our family or a decrease in level of mobility and independence once enjoyed, that are not often acknowledged or appreciated for their impact on older adult communities. This workshop will explore loss and grief and how it affects individuals physically, emotionally, behaviorally and spiritually through this broader lens. It will also help participants learn ways to support the grieving process in their communities, especially in light of the traumatic losses communities have faced following the spread of COVID 19.

Level: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced

HUD Category: End of Life Issues (Additional Recommended Training Areas)

Presenter: Mary Curlew, LICSW, Community Education and Training Specialist for Older Adults at Jewish Family & Children's Service

Presenter Bio: Mary Curlew, LICSW, is the Community Education and Training Specialist for Services for Older Adults at Jewish Family & Children’s Service, Waltham, MA. She is a Mental Health and Housing team member through JF&CS providing training and consultation for staff and residents in independent senior housing and related agencies. Mary has over 20 years’ experience providing mental health services and training in a variety of settings. Her specialties include trauma informed care, older adult behavioral health, caregiver support and holistic approaches to health care. Mary is a graduate of Boston College’s Graduate School of Social Work and has advanced training in EMDR, CBT, DBT and mindfulness.


  1. Identify common reactions to loss and death in older adult communities.
  2. Explore our own beliefs about death and loss, and how these beliefs inform our experience of the grieving process.
  3. Develop ways to support the grieving process for the older adults and communities we serve, as well as ourselves.