GOSHEN -- Each of nearly 280 people -- parents, college professors, school teachers, nurses, social workers, pastors and students -- put a sad moment in a pile, and burned it. Literally.
During an all-day seminar Thursday at Goshen College, Darcie Sims, an international speaker with Grief Inc. and director of the American Grief Society in Louisville, Ky., told attendees to write on a piece of paper one thing in their lives they felt should be forgotten.
The pile of notes was set on fire in the Church-Chapel Fellowship Hall parking lot at the end of the day.
The seminar, "Coping with the Tornado Within: Exploring the Connections Between Unresolved Grief and Violence," had two parts -- explaining children's grief and how adults should relate to grieving children.
"We came up with the name (for the seminar) when we asked a little kid to define his anger and he couldn't," said Sims. "He started to spin in a circle, like a tornado."
Sims now calls it "doing the anger dance."
"We don't have to dissipate anger, but convert it in a growing energy," she said.
Sims described anger as a good mask for grief. Kids are prone to hide their feelings under the facade of anger, while parents, teachers and counselors might not get to the real reasons behind that frustration, said Sims.
"Punishment doesn't work with grief-related anger; you have to give the anger a voice, make it constructive, not destructive."
Thursday's seminar was the second one Sims has led at Goshen College. Her visits have been arranged through the partnership of the college's social work program and Ryan's Place, a nonprofit grief center based in Goshen.
"We invited her back because she received incredibly high evaluations last year," said Carol Jarvis, associate professor of social work, of the many people in the audience who returned to hear Sims again this year.
One of them, Cindy Bucher, sixth-grade teacher at Bristol Elementary said, "Darcie gets to the roots of things."
"Last year, the grief session was more for me," said Bucher, who lost her mother a year ago. "This year, I am helping my students."
Sims said grief is "a God-given emotion."
"I consider grief an iceberg, and anger is the tip," she said. "If we only get to the tip, we'll never get to the bottom."
Contact Raluca Barzu at firstname.lastname@example.org.