Phyllis R. Silverman is a researcher, teacher and author whose primary interest is bereavement and how death is dealt with in our society.
Her early work was focused on the needs of the widowed and this led to the development of the Widow-to-Widow program. This program demonstrated the unique help that widowed people can offer each other and has been the model for programs throughout the United States and abroad including the Widowed Person's Service, a national program sponsored by the American Association of Retired Persons. They honored her for this work on the program?s 25th anniversary. Silverman has a special appreciation for the value of mutual help and learning from peers that permeates much of her subsequent work looking at bereavement as a normal life cycle transition in which the bereaved must deal not only with the angst and pain of the loss but the changes that this death brings to their lives and to their sense of self.
Her most recent research has focused on children and adolescents. This work is the basis of her latest book, The Parent's Guide to Raising Grieving Children, co-authored with Madelyn Kelly. Silverman has been Co-Principal Investigator and Project Director of the Harvard/MGH Child Bereavement Study, a longitudinal prospective study of the impact of the death of a parent on school age children. She is still involved in analyzing data from this study. She was also one of the first to look at gender differences in the bereaved. This becomes relevant in understanding children?s reactions as well.
She is one of the founding board members of the Children?s Room a Center for Grieving Children and Adolescents in Arlington, MA .In this setting the full value of mutual help becomes clear as children learn from other children that they are not alone? and parents learn from each other how to raise a grieving child. Phyllis Silverman has a Ph.D. from the Heller School at Brandeis University, and Masters' Degrees from Harvard School of Public Health and Smith College School for Social work. ?She is a Scholar in Residence at the Women?s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University. She is an Associate in Social Welfare in the Department of Psychiatry at the Mass General Hospital and Harvard Medical School , a Professor Emerita at the MGH Institute of Health Professions. She has published extensively in professional journals and her books include: Never Too Young to Know: Death in Children?s Lives, Helping Each Other in Widowhood; If You Will Lift the Load I Will Lift It Too; Mutual Help Groups: A Guide for Mental Health Professionals; Mutual Help Groups: Organization and Development; Helping Women Cope with Grief. She co-wrote with Scott Campbell, Widower: When Men Are Left Alone. With Dennis Klass and Steven Nickman, she co-edited Continuing Bonds: New Understandings of Grief. ?Her book Never too Young to Know: Death in Children's Lives is described in this web cite. Within the past year she co-edited with Joan Berzoff Living with dying: A handbook for end of life health care practitioners and wrote a new edition of Widow-to-Widow: How the bereaved help each other.
She has lectured extensively throughout the United States and abroad and has appeared on the Today Show, 60 Minutes and on the Death in American Series on National Public Radio. Silverman is the recipient of the 1991 Presidential medal from her alma mater, Brooklyn College, City University of New York, for her outstanding contributions to the fields of bereavement and social welfare. She spent the 1993-1994 academic year at the School of Social Work at Haifa University, Israel as a Senior Research Fulbright Fellow. In 1994 she was the recipient of the National Center for Death Education Award from Mt. Ida College, Newton, MA for her outstanding contributions to Thanatology. In 1995 she received the first Association for Death Education Recognition Award for her contributions to research in bereavement and loss. She was the 1998 Scholar-in-Residence at Mandelbaum House, the University of Sydney, Australia.
Her best teachers have been her husband, her five children and now her grandchildren.