top of page

Live Online Training
United States

Suicide & Unfinished Business
with the Deceased:

Assessment & Intervention

Earn 3 Continuing Education (CE) Credits

APA Sponsor Icon - Blue (Low Resolution).png

Portland Institute for Loss and Transition is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists.  Portland Institute for Loss and Transition maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

Clair de Lune (Katia Poulin).jpeg
Clair de Lune (by Katia Poulin)

September 6, 2024

9am-12pm (PDT)

Presented by

Robert A. Neimeyer, PhD


Portland Institute for Loss and Transition

Professor Emeritus

Department of Psychology, University of Memphis

Carolyn Ng,


Associate Director

Portland Institute for Loss and Transition

USD$99 for 3-hour module /

USD$124 with CE Credits

The loss of a significant person to suicide or overdose is more than a traumatic life event.  It also poses a profound challenge for survivors in establishing a sustainable continuing bond to the deceased, characteristically leaving many questions unanswered, much that is unsaid, and multiple longstanding concerns unresolved.  This module focuses on the burden of such unfinished business with the deceased for mourners, as they struggle to revisit, reevaluate and often repair the relationship with someone who they typically have loved, even if ambivalently, and lost to a tragic death.  In such cases, joining grieving clients in the quest for meaning in the loss nearly always requires that therapists accompany survivors in some form of relational reconstruction.

We begin by reviewing the implications of the Tripartite Model of Meaning Reconstruction for survivors of suicide loss and relate these to the most relevant goals of grief therapy.  We then present two well-validated measures that help clarify the problematic history shared with the deceased in the first instance, and the extent and focus of unresolved relational issues in the second.  Both can be used as a form of clinical assessment to orient the work of therapy, start a necessary conversation with the client, or assess the greater resolution of residual anger, regret, guilt and other forms of relational distress as therapy progresses.  In addition to introducing these scales and discussing their practical application, we will review the emerging evidence base documenting the frequency and focus of unfinished business in suicide loss and violent death bereavement more generally, and its relationship to prolonged and anguished forms of grief and associated outcomes.  Clinical videos of clients who have lost loved ones to suicide illustrate both these challenges and their effort to reconstruct a continuing bond with their loved one that reaffirms attachment security and makes room for a simpler form of adaptive grieving.  Cultural differences in patterns of unfinished business in different samples will also be briefly noted.

In the second half of our program, we will then turn to a creative technique that can help clients realign a troubled relationship with the deceased without necessarily relinquishing it, in essence seeking to conserve what had value in the shared bond in a curated form.  We will then provide clear guidelines and prompts for resuming a symbolic conversation with the dead that was traumatically ended by the suicide, accident, overdose or other form of sudden death, with an emphasis on constructing safety in pursuing and processing these imaginal exchanges.  Learners in the workshop will be given opportunities to practice each method, reflect on the experience, and share their learning with others in small group and plenary group formats.  As a result, they should leave the training with a more ample toolbox for clinical assessment and intervention into some of the most complicated dimensions of grief therapy.

Note:  This 3-hour CE module focuses on application of psychological assessment and/or intervention methods that have overall consistent and credible empirical support in the contemporary peer reviewed scientific literature beyond those publications and other types of communications devoted primarily to the promotion of the approach.


  • Distinguish 3 narrative challenges to meaning reconstruction in suicide bereavement and their implications for the selection of therapeutic approaches;

  • Describe the psychometric features of two validated instruments for evaluating relational complications with the deceased and their clinical application in grief therapy; 

  • Summarize the evidence base regarding the incidence and impact of unfinished business with the deceased among mourners who have lost significant others to suicide and other forms of violent or sudden death;

  • Outline the steps of one creative therapeutic procedure appropriate for both individual or group contexts that helps clients review and revise their relational narrative regarding a complex history with the deceased;

  • Discuss guidelines for prompting clients to reopen conversations with significant figures that were closed by their premature or traumatic death, both affirming continuing bonds and addressing lingering issues; and 

  • List procedures for safe entry into, enactment of, and exit from symbolic conversations with the deceased and note how these can be integrated powerfully into grief therapy.

Note:  Attendance of this Live Online Training session confers credit of 1 Technique Module required for Certification in Grief Therapy as Meaning Reconstruction, Certification in Family-Focused Grief Therapy, or Certification in Grief Therapy for Suicide Bereavement.


  • A PDF copy of the presentation slides;

  • Copies of both the Quality of Relationship Inventory—Bereaved Version (QRI-B) and the Unfinished Business in Bereavement Scale (UBBS) along with scoring instructions and permission to use them in clinical and research contexts;

  • Instructions for using Our Relationship Tree technique in the wake of complicated loss, with further questions for processing the client’s experience; and 

  • Detailed guidelines for Correspondence with the Deceased, with special reference to suicide and drug-related deaths.


  • Psychologists, social workers, counselors, art / music / expressive arts therapists, pastoral care personnel, healthcare professionals, bereavement volunteers

  • To qualify for the 3 CE Credits, please kindly note that:

    • Full attendance of the entire session is required to receive CE credits.  No partial credit is awarded.

    • You are required to complete a CE quiz after the session.  An overall score of 75% or higher within three attempts is required to obtain CE credits.

    • The certificate of CE credits will be issued to you upon your submission of a participant evaluation form.


  • Advanced



This program contains the following segments:

  • Meaning Reconstruction in Suicide Bereavement:  A Tripartite Model (15 min.)
  • Presence within Absence:  The Role of Extensional Objects in Traumatic Loss (30 min.)

  • Loss and the Quality of Relationship:  Closeness & Conflict with the Deceased (15 min.)

  • Unfinished Business in Suicide Bereavement:  Incidence and impact (30 min.)

  • Curating the Continuing Bond:  Trimming Our Relationship Tree (45 min.)

  • Correspondence with the Deceased:  Addressing Unresolved Issues (45 min.)


  • 9am-12pm, PDT, Portland, OR, that corresponds to 12-3pm in Eastern Daylight Time, 5-8pm in British Summer Time and 6-9pm in Central European Summer Time.

Note:  The Zoom link and learning materials will be emailed to the registrants in due course.

Disclosure Statement

This recorded module is not supported financially by a manufacturer of any commercial product and there is no sale of any product or publication during the live training session.  There is no known conflict of interest for this CE module or the presenting faculty.


Robert A. Neimeyer, PhD, is Professor Emeritus of the Department of Psychology, University of Memphis, and maintains an active consulting and coaching practice.  He also directs the Portland Institute for Loss and Transition, which provides both onsite and online training internationally in grief therapy.  Neimeyer has published 35 books, including New Techniques of Grief Therapy: Bereavement and Beyond and The Handbook of Grief Therapies, and serves as Editor of the journal Death Studies.  The author of over 600 articles and book chapters and a frequent workshop presenter, he is currently working to advance a more adequate theory of grieving as a meaning-making process. Neimeyer served as President of the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) and Chair of the International Work Group for Death, Dying, & Bereavement.  In recognition of his scholarly contributions, he has been granted the Eminent Faculty Award by the University of Memphis, made a Fellow of the Clinical Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association, and given Lifetime Achievement.

Robert A. Neimeyer, PhD

Speaker Photo 39.jpeg

Carolyn Ng,

Speaker Photo (171023f).jpeg

Carolyn Ng, PsyD, MMSAC, RegCLR, maintains a private practice, Anchorage for Loss and Transition, for training, supervision and therapy in Singapore, while she also serves as Associate Director of the Portland Institute for Loss and Transition.  Previously, she was a Principal Counsellor with the Children’s Cancer Foundation in Singapore, specialising in cancer-related palliative care and bereavement counselling.  She is a registered counsellor, master clinical member and approved supervisor with the Singapore Association for Counselling (SAC) and a consultant to a cancer support and bereavement ministry in Sydney, Australia.  She is trained in the Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) by the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation, USA, community crisis response by the National Organisation for Victim Assistance (NOVA), USA, and Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) by LivingWorks, Canada.  She is also a trained end-of-life doula and advanced care planning facilitator.  Her recent writing concerns meaning-oriented narrative reconstruction with bereaved families, with an emphasis on conversational approaches for fostering new meaning and action.

USD$99 for 3-hour module /

USD$124 for CE Credits

For other enquiries, simply email Carolyn.

bottom of page