Emily Mroz, PhD, postdoctoral fellow in the Yale Department of Internal Medicine’s Section of Geriatrics, recently received the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) Edie Stark-Shirley Scott Early Achievement Award. The honor is presented annually to a woman in the initial years of a career in thanatology—the study of death, dying, and bereavement—who has distinguished herself through activity in scholarship, service, research, clinical practice, or social action. Mroz, who first attended an ADEC conference in 2019, is grateful for the support and resources the organization provides. “Since the pandemic, there’s been more awareness of the importance of death education: learning how to have difficult conversations around death and dying, support loved ones through end of life, and navigate grief,” she said. “I want to be part of this movement, and ADEC is at the center of that.” I want to help caregivers receive optimal support in the clinical setting, maintain positive relationships with their care partner, and navigate the grief adjustment process in the best way possible.Emily Mroz, PhDIn graduate school, Mroz developed an interest in studying the ways people use personal narratives from lived experiences to navigate end of life and bereavement. For her dissertation, she asked individuals whose spouses had died to recount their final experiences with their spouse before death. “These stories not only help us understand the dying experience of another person, but they can also help us predict how the bereaved will adjust to this major loss, so that we can prevent or mitigate depression or post-traumatic stress,” Mroz said. One of Mroz’s upcoming research projects focuses on helping people navigate end-of-life care for those with dementia. “If a caregiver can tap into a dying person’s life story—who they were and the things that mattered most to them—the caregiver might feel more confident in making difficult end-of-life decisions in a way that minimizes their own guilt,” Mroz said. “This is especially important in the context of advanced dementia care, when patients often struggle to make decisions for themselves.” Mroz was recently chosen to participate in the Dementia Palliative Care Clinical Trials Training Program, a ten-month training intensive organized by the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Aging and Serious Illness. Through the program, Mroz will hone her research and develop a clinical intervention to support life-story sharing and medical decision-making.Mroz hopes to continue her work with the ADEC community and maintain focus on improving support for family caregivers. “I want to help caregivers receive optimal support in the clinical setting, maintain positive relationships with their care partner, and navigate the grief adjustment process in the best way possible,” she said.Yale’s Section of Geriatrics strives to improve the health of older adults by providing exceptional patient care, training future leaders and innovators in aging, and engaging in cutting-edge research. To learn more about their mission, visit Geriatrics.