The Secret Maps Project is a unique set of companion films created to educate and train clinicians in their work with the grieving after loss.

Stream the whole set of Secret Maps films at

The Secret Maps Project for Colleges & Universities from Elm Films.

More details on the films in the Secret Maps Project:

Film 1. The Secret Map of Surviving Loss is a 60-minute documentary that takes clinicians inside the client experience of grief in a way never shown before. In this film, five brave souls share their stories which are framed by three bereavement experts. Audiences are guided through the many aspects of the grievers’ journey from initial loss and shock to struggles with guilt, secondary losses and triggers to finally wrestling with questions of identity and making meaning.

Film 2. Good Grieving: A Guide to Group Facilitation is a half-hour film for development and training. It goes over the basics of setting up a group from screening participants, preparing materials, creating structure and cohesion to ground rules and handling facilitator ego.

Film 3. Introduction to Group Grieving & Healing. This half-hour film is a look into the benefits of group counseling as a modality for grief.

Also included with the Secret Maps Project is a free, downloadable workbook for group facilitators to aid them in running sessions available at

Death and Mourning in America
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH News in Health, ISSN 1556-3898), roughly 2.5 million people die in America every year and each death leaves behind an average of 4-5 grieving survivors. For 80-90% of these survivors, their grief peaks within 6 months after their loss and 2 years after their loss, their feeling is simply a longing for their lost loved one.

However for the rest, moving on is not so simple.

“Prolonged grief, or complicated grief, is seen in a small portion of bereaved individuals—about 10% or 20%. Their symptoms are disruptive to their lives and daily functioning,” says Dr. Mary-Frances O’Connor, a psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles. “These people may experience extreme yearning, loneliness and a feeling that life will never have any meaning. They may have intrusive thoughts and feel ongoing anger or bitterness over the death.”

This 10-20% caught in complicated grief amounts to 1.2 to 2.4 million people a year. These grieving people may be functioning outwardly, going to work, and paying their bills, but are altered and stuck in pain. Their complicated grief also correlates with a highly increased risk of developing clinical depression, substance abuse, and PTSD or some combination of all three.

Furthermore, funding for end-of-life care and support services for grieving men and women is being cut just as demand for them will be rising. By 2020, Medicare/Medicaid funding for hospice services will be decreased by 18% due to budget restrictions and the sequester. At the very same time, the baby boomer generation will come into their senior years and the population over age 65 will increase to one six Americans. In short, there are going to be more deaths at the very same time that support for the dying and their survivors is cut.