Tashel Bordere, PhD, CT

From “Staying Inside” to the “Other Side”: The Suffocated Grief of African American Youth

African American youth from diverse socioeconomic statuses are often faced with grief following homicide loss, race-based trauma, and ever-present threats to their personal safety, frequently in the absence of formal support and protection. Drawing from her research on African American youth bereavement and recent highly publicized cases in the media, findings will be presented on the complexities of grief and coping surrounding homicide loss for African American youth and families from cultural-contextual, systemic, developmental, and social justice perspectives. We will also explore the concept of “suffocated grief” as a culturally-relevant framework for understanding the experiences of youth coping with significant losses related to gun violence in their primary settings. Resiliency factors (e.g. New Orleans Death Rituals) will be explored as well as creative and effective approaches, including a cultural iconic approach and culturally conscientious practice, in work with bereaved disenfranchised youth.


  1. Define patterns unique to the suffocated grief experiences of African American youth and families bereaved by homicide loss from a developmental, historical, contextual, and social justice perspective
  2. Describe factors that complicate the grief process for youth and families bereaved by homicide loss as well as factors that enfranchise grief and promote survival
  3. Identify approaches to support and outreach among bereaved African American youth and families

Tashel C. Bordere, PhD, CT is an Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Science and State Extension Specialist in Youth Development at the University of Missouri-Columbia where she teaches Childhood Death and Bereavement, Black Families, Adolescence and Young Adulthood, and Lifespan Development. She is past editor of The Forum (ADEC), past board member of the Association for Death Education and Counseling, and past Chair of the People of Color/Multicultural Committee. She is also a certified thanatologist in Death, Dying, Loss and Grief.  Dr. Bordere has conducted numerous workshops, consultations, trainings and published works relating to diversity and resilience through loss including her recent co-edited and co-written book (with Darcy Harris), Handbook of Social Justice in Loss and Grief. Dr. Bordere was featured on NPR – Teens and Grief, in a Hospice Foundation of America’s Live National Webcast – Living with Grief: Helping Adolescents Cope with Loss, and Open to Hope Cable Show – Saving At-Risk Youth.  Her research focuses on adolescent adjustment to death and loss, with emphasis on assaultive violence, homicidal death, coping and grief among African American youth. She also studies New Orleans death rituals. Dr. Bordere developed SHED Grief Tools to educate and equip teachers with tools to support youth coping with death and non-death loss in the context of school settings.