Adam has dedicated himself to a lifetime of service, prompted by the early passing of his toddler sister when Adam himself was a young boy.
Today, Adam Rabinovitch is Executive Director of COPE – a nonprofit grief and healing organization dedicated to helping parents and families living with the loss of a child. I have worked with COPE to provide support to grieving families. They are a valuable resource.
Adam was previously Executive Director of Giving Open Access to Learning, Inc. (GOAL). This nonprofit educational program provides children from under-served communities with the resources to help them get the most out of their education.
Prior to that, he was Deputy Director of Neighbors Link a nonprofit committed to strengthening the healthy integration of immigrants in local communities.
Adam is also proud to be a volunteer board member and to serve as Board Chair of Brick By Brick, an NGO and social enterprise dedicated to improving the lives of children and families in East Africa.
An interview with Adam Rabinovitch – Executive Director of Connecting Our Paths Eternally
Brian Smith 0:00
Close your eyes and imagine what are the things in life that causes the greatest pain, the things that bring us grief, or challenges, challenges designed to help us grow to ultimately become what we were always meant to be. We feel like we’ve been buried, but what if, like a seed we’ve been planted and having been planted, to grow to become a mighty tree. Now, open your eyes. Open your eyes to this way of viewing life. Come with me as we explore your true, infinite, eternal nature. This is grief to growth. And I am your host, Brian Smith. Hey everybody, this is Brian back with another episode of grief to growth and today I’ve got with me Adam Rabinovich. And Adam is the executive director, Executive Director of an organization called cope, which is a nonprofit Grief and Healing organization dedicated to helping parents and families living with the loss of a child. And cope is an acronym for connecting our paths internally. Adam was previously the executive director, Executive Director of giving open access to learning our goal, which is a nonprofit educational program that provides children from underserved communities with the resources to help them get the most out of their education. So you can tell Adams been doing this type of work for a while. Prior to that he was a deputy director of neighbors link, a nonprofit committed to strengthening the healthy integration of immigrants and local communities. Adam is also proud to be a volunteer board member, and to serve as board choir board chair I’m sorry, a brick by brick an NGO and social enterprise dedicated to improving the lives of children’s and families in East Africa. So Adam is a busy man. With that I want to welcome Adam to grief to growth.
Adam Rabinovitch 1:46
Thank you so much, Brian, for that warm introduction and for inviting me to join you today on behalf of all the families that were supporting, and really thank you for pronouncing Rabinovich correctly when you and I met. months ago, I said, I wish it was like Smith, but it ain’t so thank you for for all of that. And really glad to be here today.
Brian Smith 2:07
Yeah, it’s it’s really good to sit down and get to have this conversation with you virtually you and I met a few months ago through a mutual friend. That’s where I learned about cope. I love the work that you guys are doing. I wanted to introduce cope to to more people and let them know what resources are available. Because as parents that have had children past we can always use, you know, whatever’s out there. So how did you get involved in doing this type of work? You’ve been you’ve been doing this type of outreach for quite a while.
Adam Rabinovitch 2:36
Yeah, so I’ve been committed to social impact work through nonprofit leadership for the last decade of my career as a volunteer and as a staff leader. And I came to join the cope community just about three years ago. So this is being recorded in in the early fall of 2021. I joined in August 2018. And flashing forward 3040 years before that, I was born healthy and have lived 48 years and counting. In 1973. And a couple of years after I was born. My baby sister Martinique came along and she was born a very ill, and she died before the age of two. I have some vague, somehow vague and vivid memories of playing peekaboo with Marnie, and playing the big brother role for her for the couple of years that she was with us. My brother and sister came along after Marni died, and they never got to meet her. So my parents, my family have been living with the loss of a child with my loss of my sister for 40 plus years, and we’ve been living with that loss. And in many ways, not talking about the loss, not talking about Martin Nate, certainly not as a family unit. So by being able to connect with cope three years ago, and you and so many people in the Grief and Healing space, including parents and siblings and families, living with the loss of a child, this club that no one wants to belong to, it’s really given me some personal and professional meaning and purpose in the work that I’m doing as part of this larger community in a way that I never had. And I’d like to say and think that it’s given my family, some new tools and common language as well living with the loss of a child. So that’s a little bit of what got me involved in the work and has kept me very engaged and passionate about supporting other families like mine, like yours. We know there’s so many out there that need support, need each other need connection, and cope is one of the ways that people can connect and get that support.
Brian Smith 4:50
I think that that’s so important that you talk about that how your sister passed when you were a young child and how that’s impacted you even 40 plus years later. A lot of times, especially as parents, we think about how the loss of a child impacts us. We don’t think about how it impacts siblings, and the whole family, the whole family unit going forward. And it’s been my experience, a lot of families don’t talk about it. You know, I’ve talked to clients, like they don’t even mention that the name of the child has passed. And they don’t realize that does have an impact on everybody.
Adam Rabinovitch 5:23
Yeah, well said. And again, I don’t want to overstate the the the newness of it, but it’s really just in the last few years that I’ve been able and my family has been able to use some of those tools techniques and go out of our comfort zone, I guess in some cases, and talk a bit about Marnie, even though she was only with us for less than two years.
Brian Smith 5:45
Yeah, children make they make an impact, no matter how long they’re here, you know, how long or how short they’re here. I was just interviewing someone earlier today who had a daughter who didn’t live it all outside outside the womb, but made it made an impact on their family. So I know your sister is still making ripples today. And I think that’s so cool. I just I just light up when I hear I think about something like that.
Adam Rabinovitch 6:08
That’s really, really well said and sweet. Yet someone that
Brian Smith 6:11
came in for what seems like a short time, but you know, still still living to this day through three years. So kudos to you.
Adam Rabinovitch 6:19
Thanks for that. Yes.
Brian Smith 6:21
So tell me about cope. How did how to get started
Adam Rabinovitch 6:25
cope King together as a Ghana group of members of this club that no one wants to belong to our founders met each other shortly after the losses of their then adult children. This is going back to the early mid 1990s. They leaned on each other, they still lean on each other. These years later, as friends as colleagues and as board members and committed supporters of cope. They started a network and informal network, bringing together other parents and some siblings, in different families across Long Island, New York, all who had this common thread of the living with the loss of a child, their children, built enough of a network and saw enough of a need and an opportunity for a unique solution in our area geographically and hopefully a model for other communities across the country and beyond. And in 1999 started a nonprofit corporation. Here we are 22 years later, sustaining growing in many ways the last year plus I don’t need to tell you or your audience that the need and demand for Grief and Healing and bereavement support is only increased with drivers like COVID-19 not being the only one certainly, we’re seeing a lot of spikes around in the communities that we’re supporting downstate New York and beyond around death by suicide, and homicide and gun violence, and also certainly trends, which hopefully are starting to turn around locally and nationally around addiction and opioid overdose. So as families and communities continue for the foreseeable future, meaning for the rest of time, need Grief and Healing support. cope wants to be one of the tools that people can lean on, and again, connect with each other and get the support that they deserve.
Brian Smith 8:23
Yeah, absolutely. So So how did you guys fare during during the last year or so? 2020? With the pandemic? Yeah. 21 with the things that we’re going through now, we’re still not really out of it. So how did that impact the work that copes doing? Great question.
Adam Rabinovitch 8:38
And I’ve gotten to know you, I’ll share two words which I know are close to your heart in your work. I’d say bravery and technology. So first, as the pandemic was rearing its ugly head, we step back, but really just for a minute and asked ourselves as a as an organization in the community that we support the families. Can we continue to to provide support? Not really, should we but can we and how, so we pivoted or moved very quickly. This is march into April of 2020. To telehealth so instead of podcast we’ve created safe spaces, secure spaces for parents, for siblings, for teens, for other bereaved and grieving individuals and families to come together. Not quite replicating the experience of being side by side, shoulders, shoulder at a table in a room together, but we’ve come a long way. And we’ve also continued to ask for and receive tremendous support. As a nonprofit corporation. We rely extraordinarily on the generosity and contributions of donors and foundations and partners across the board and everyone has really stepped up so between leaning into technology and learning with Technology, and not being shy about asking people to support the work that we do. So we can keep being there for the families that count on us. We’ve managed to come out of whatever this most recent chapter of the pandemic is, and have some learned lessons for plowing ahead for the future as unknown, as some of the unknown may be.
Brian Smith 10:19
Yeah. So what are some of the services that you offer to people?
Adam Rabinovitch 10:23
Yeah, thank you for asking the core of what we provide our peer to peer support groups for in some cases, parents living with the loss of a child in other groups, siblings living with the loss of a brother or sister. And we also offer groups for teens living with the loss of a loved family member. So each of those support groups historically in person currently through tele mental health, the future, probably some hybrid model of the two. Each of those groups has a licensed clinician, a social worker, in the room, whether it’s again, virtual or in person, and they’re they’re not as a therapist, but as a facilitator. So it’s really the the peer to peer model with the facilitation of a professional that we hear again and again from family members, helps them as they move through their grief journey. That’s one area and one way that we support bereaved families and individuals, we also offer and this has been a real increase in in the way we’ve connected with families during the pandemic, a series of healing workshops, and you’ve been part of some of those as a presenter and a share. So we continue to design and partner with people, including you and so many professionals and grieving and brief family members across the country and across the world, to provide healing workshops, open to all and any currently online, and that includes everything from Tai Chi, which we’ll be having another Tai Chi movement, workshop coming up, we’ve had yoga, mindfulness and meditation. We’ve offered drama therapy, music therapy, trying to provide as many tools as we can, for as many people to meet them in their unique grief journeys and trying to do it at a scale. And technology, again, has helped to play a role in that to meet more people with limited resources.
Brian Smith 12:24
Yeah, yeah, that’s, that’s really fascinating. And sounds like a great breadth of services you’re offering to people. But it brings up the question I have, because you and I met, I live in Ohio, you live in New York. And as you said, I’ve spoken at one of your workshops, and I know that you guys geographically are centered in New York, and that’s been your traditional base, have you found that you’re growing outside of that, due to this, the challenges you’re going through?
Adam Rabinovitch 12:48
Yes, in a few ways, and a lot of it’s through network and coalition building. So one of the things that I’ve seen, and thanks again, for sharing in my bio, that I’ve been focused on the nonprofit sectors, too often in different fields and missions. There can be silos and some fragmentation between groups between community organizations doing great work in their communities, but not always having the capacity or the bandwidth to connect with people and organizations across the county or across the state lines or whatever it is, you and I are now connected, many states away and maybe even a timezone or two. So one of the ways that we’ve been both scaling our impact geographically, but also working with other like minded organizations is we are in our 10th year of being part of a terrific national now international organization, the US and Canada called the aluna. network. And aluna supports families and primarily kids in a variety of ways, including the camp Aaron network, and this is free bereavement grief camps for kids aged seven to 17, living with the loss of a loved one. So we just had our 10th camp error in New York City, which is for the New York City metro area. And we also hold a concurrent parent and caregiver retreat. So perhaps you and your audience can envision that in a balanced camp experience. So there’s bereavement and grief support along with fun slash waterslide. And Capture the Flag and all the things that kids and sometimes their adult parents and caregivers want to engage in, come together for, for a shared experience and also again, bringing together some common tools and common languages. So we hear from families who go through the camp error and experience that after that their own family unit has has some shared new techniques that they can use around their loss of their shared loved ones. In addition to that, I’ll mention that we work closely with the National Alliance for children’s grief and increasingly part of New York State and us initiative under the evermore banner, which is helping to fix bereavement care for all Americans. And that includes systems change policy change legislation, legislative change across the country and hopefully additional resources for people like you and grief to growth organizations like cope so that we can do more as we continue to see increased demand for all of our services. So those are a couple of the ways that we’ve been connecting, learning from sharing with beyond the the origins of Long Island and New York City metro area.
We’ll get back to grief to growth in just a few seconds. Did you know that Brian is an author and a life coach, if you’re grieving or know someone who is grieving his book, grief to growth is a best selling easy to read book that might help you or someone you know, people work with Brian as a life coach to break through barriers and live their best lives. You can find out more about Brian and what he offers at WWW dot grief to growth.com www dot g ri e f the number two gr o w th calm if you’d like to support this podcast visit www.patreon.com slash grief to growth www.patreon.com slash g ri e f the number two gr o w th to make a financial contribution and now back to grief to growth
Brian Smith 16:33
Yeah, it’s really interesting you know as we you know, as we go through challenges and it’s sometimes they seem like they’re setbacks but you know, as we grieve to grow, it’s all about right it’s it’s sometimes they can be opportunities. So I know like you and I met during the pandemic and you know I’ve spoken to your group because of the use of technology it’s funny I all my clients are remote I don’t have any clients in Cincinnati I was talking with someone the other day but you know, some grief work and they’re like, so many clients you see face to face and I don’t see any so it’s it’s, it’s a great it’s a brave new world that we live in. So it’s really exciting. And I can see cope because of your your caring and your expertise, really starting to grow outside of that the area that you guys are in locally.
Adam Rabinovitch 17:19
Yeah, that’s so well said. And I do value the face to face time with you and so many others, even if it is pixelated or virtual. And your case, of course, it’s as clear as as it could be. But yeah, no, well said,
Brian Smith 17:30
Yeah, yeah, well, if there’s nothing that will replace face to face, as I said, it’s it’s, I look at it as an opportunity to really get to get beyond you know, I was just talking with someone, right before again, I was interviewing with a young woman in Germany. And so it’s like I would, I would have never met her if it had been if it hadn’t been for the technology. And it’s so cool that we could just get on and do this. And I’ve spoken with your group, and I’m happy to be part of, you know, helping people as much as I can, you know, anywhere they happen to be,
Adam Rabinovitch 17:59
well, we value that. And I give so much credit to the families, our staff, our volunteers, our partners, including you who have either embraced the new technology, even if it’s not comfortable in one way or another and really stepped up. And it’s helped to keep some of those connections and ties among families. And in our case, back to the cope organization intact and hopefully enhanced in some ways, even though we’re not there to pat each other on the shoulder give the hugs and dry the tears together in person.
Brian Smith 18:32
Yeah. Well, I know you guys are doing great work there. So for people that are remote, though, that might be interested in getting connected with code that might want to reach out to you for some sort of help. Where would you suggest they start?
Adam Rabinovitch 18:43
Yeah, great place to start is on our website, Koch foundation dot o RG. And I know you’ll make sure that the listening audience has access to that they can also follow us on our social media feeds, which they’ll get to right through the website. And we have not only direct links to get involved in our support programs and our healing workshops, which we’ll continue to unroll and unfurl in the in the coming months and years. But there’s a whole bunch of resources that people can access anytime of day. We’ll be not competing with you, but hopefully adding some value in the podcast market in the near future. But we have suggested reading and blogs and articles and also a volunteer led warm line, not quite a hotline. It’s not a crisis line. But these are trained volunteers, bereaved parents and siblings who are there to pick up the phone, lend an empathetic ear and make that connection for anyone who wants to reach out regardless of the timezone or the time of day.
Brian Smith 19:47
Yeah, well, I think that peer to peer model is really important. After after my daughter passed, I did go to grief counseling briefly. went to see a guy and actually he was a grief counselor. He was at a hospice here locally and then Was it was somewhat helpful, I was pretty far along in my spiritual journey, if you want to call it that anyway, so I only went to him a few times, but I find is really helpful to talk to other parents to talk to, and to find out what they’re going through and not feel alone. So I really, I really valued that peer to peer connection that you guys offer. So people can say, Hey, this is what I’m feeling. This is what I’m feeling Oh, I’m not crazy, you know, I’m not insane. Because we feel like when we lose a child, we feel like we’re losing their minds. You know, we’ve really literally like we can’t go on and function anymore.
Adam Rabinovitch 20:37
Yeah, that message of you, I we are not alone is so powerful. And it just needs to continue to be said and demonstrated and showing that no one in this club is alone in it is a club, no one wants to belong to it, as I said, as you may not along to, but certainly I encourage anyone who’s listening and looking for a lifeline, reach out, reach out to cope, reach out to Brian, reach out to your local support mechanisms. And please, please stay connected. You’re not alone.
Brian Smith 21:11
Yeah, well, and the thing is, you know, again, I go back to your the opening you talking about your sister, and you know, I just look at it, no life is lost, you know, people sometimes will look and will judge. And again, as parents, you know, my child only lived for X amount of time, you know, my daughter was 15 or someone you know, and and we we put we placed judgments on it. But we don’t know what effect that that’s going to have, we don’t really know what it’s going to do in the future and how much purpose that person’s life could possibly serve long beyond the time that they’re, they’re here in this physical plane. And I see this just as you just as a shining example of that.
Adam Rabinovitch 21:51
And likewise, and I’m so glad that we’re connected and we get to, to support other families together along the way.
Brian Smith 21:59
Yeah, well, Adam, what else should our audience know about supporting grieving parents families, I know you’ve shared a lot, what coke can offer, just in general, what is what’s the philosophy of coke, but what is what is your What is your vision.
Adam Rabinovitch 22:16
So our vision is that no one should grieve alone. And that means no one. So as you and I’ve been talking about today, there’s lots of resources for people to connect to, maybe not enough. And hopefully, as we move together to increase awareness of the need for bereavement care, at the national and state levels, they’ll only be more supports going forward, whether it’s paid bereavement leave for families who need those extra days, just to make sure that they can take care of themselves take care of their families in those those early days, whether it’s after a traumatic loss or any kind of loss. So so there’s opportunities also to get involved in let one’s voice be heard. So share your experiences with local community members, you can share your experiences with elected officials and, and ask for support not only for yourselves, but for the next grieving mom, the next grieving dad or brother or sister. So amplifying the message that everyone deserves a support and no one should grieve alone is critical. And we’re also helping and hoping, hoping that the the conversation around grief and bereavement and healing changes in our country in our society. So that dynamics, like I mentioned, in my family, maybe there’s less stigma going forward about death and loss and grief and healing. And I know there’s great groups who focus on that, including the reimagine community, if your audience isn’t already aware of them, they can learn more, let’s reimagine and really just trying to shift the conversation so that everyone feels supported and that those who care about their we’ve grieving and bereaved loved ones have the tools and the language and and know what to say and what not to say.
Brian Smith 24:08
Yeah, I think it’s Yeah, it’s really important. And I like that you know, about shifting. He said, shifting the conversation, I began to go beyond that and saying, even having the conversation again, I talked to so many people that say I don’t I don’t want to share my great because I don’t want to feel like I’m making someone else sad. And people will even say to us sometimes well, aren’t you over that by now you know, you should, you know, and so they’ll kind of make us feel shut down. Like we shouldn’t talk about it. And I’ve really love your philosophy of no one should grieve alone. And I think I completely agree with that. I think we are met as human beings. We’re social creatures, and we need to share our experiences, especially the experience of grief. And when we go through it alone, and whatnot, forget I was driving one day and I was listening to podcast, I was like it was right after my daughter passed away. And I was listening to his great podcast. I think it was Sandra Champlain and she had a woman on her name is Donovan Becky and her daughter had passed away. And Donna, she tells a story about she was standing on the curb and there was a bus driving by and she was thought about stepping out in front of the bus. And it really caught my attention. Because I was like, This is the feeling that I’ve had several times. And I was so glad to hear someone else say that out loud, even though it’s something we wouldn’t necessarily share. Because people think we’re crazy, or we’re suicidal. But it’s really important that people be in a space where they feel comfortable sharing those types of things. And then they know, you know, people, they know that they’re not alone. So I love what you guys are doing.
Adam Rabinovitch 25:38
Also, as you were talking, I was just remembering if you happen to hear typing in the background, excuse me, I just want to make sure that if your audience is interested, they know where to go, there’s a platform called speaking grief.org. And I know you have access to so many resources. If you want my help and sharing any of the ones that we’re talking about today, I’ll Of course, make sure that you have those to share out with the listening audience for the viewing audience. And speaking grief is not only a documentary about some of the themes that we’re talking about today, but it also has some some some great tools are not only for grieving individuals and family members, but again, for those who care about them. And so I encourage folks to check out their resources as well.
Brian Smith 26:21
Yeah, that was a great documentary, as you said that it reminded me I had a young lady on who was in that film as one of my as one of my guests. So the thing is, there’s a there are a lot more resources available now and and as you said earlier, I’m a technology guy. So I just I’m excited about the possibilities of these things that we can get out there now the documentaries and that we can we can share with people literally around the world. And and I’ve even seen a lot of it now in media, where I think they’re becoming more aware of I don’t know how coke feels about the afterlife. But I think the afterlife is, to me one of the most important things so I’m just seeing more openness to people willing to talk about how our, our children are not lost, that they that they they go on.
Adam Rabinovitch 27:06
Well, I’ll just mention a couple of things on two related unrelated topics that you just highlighted. One is as part of copes origin, and people can learn more on our website about our history. Koch foundation dot o RG, our founder, Lilly Julian had a vision a dream that her daughter, who she lost, Michelle visited her and said, effectively, essentially, Hey, Mom, I’m okay. Take care of yourself and and each other. And that was part of the catalyst that that started cope. And we continue to offer a series of programs including under the banner of signs and synchronicities, where professionals and lay people and family members get to come together and share some of their stories and the signs and synchronicities that keep them connected to our loved ones. And so I appreciate you bringing that to the forefront of our conversation today. And I also just wanted to to highlight and I know we’ll be wrapping up shortly. So just to not only again, thank you for the opportunity to share. But going back to our introduction in today’s conversation that one one of the clear realities that I’ve learned doing this work now for the last few years and talking to my family for the first time in many ways was that there was nothing like them for cope or for us, like cope or group growth, or so many organizations 3040 maybe even 20 years ago. So to your point, the fact that we are seeing some of these shifts, and technology being one of the pieces to to helping unlock that is really critical. And again, none of us can do it alone. So it’s it’s wonderful that you and I and some our fellow and shared the shared collaborators are in this together to support each other and support families.
Brian Smith 29:01
Awesome, awesome. Well, I we’re running tight, close to time to wrap I do want to let everybody know that the website is Koch foundation.org. And there’ll be a link, of course, in the show notes. Adam and I were talking beforehand. There’s a lot of events that Koch does that are coming up. So I’m sure there’s a calendar of events there. So for whatever time you’re listening this you can find out what’s going on currently, and if you’re not in the New York area could still be a great resource for you. So I just want to put that out there for people that happen to be maybe somewhere else but do want to get connected.
Adam Rabinovitch 29:33
Exactly. Thanks. We’re here for anyone and everyone. So please reach out. And again, you’re not alone.
Brian Smith 29:40
Alright, Adam, it was great seeing you today. And have a great rest of your day.
Adam Rabinovitch 29:44
Thank you, Brian. Thanks for having us and all the good work you’re doing.
Brian Smith 29:48
So that does it for another episode of grief to growth. I sure hope you enjoyed it. If you like this content, make sure you subscribe, so click on the subscribe button here and then click on the bell to receive notifications and click On all that way you’ll be notified whenever I release new content. Thanks for watching and have a great day.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai