Grief Release Writing Workshop for Losing A Loved One… Online?

A couple years back, I designed and offered an in-person grief release writing workshop, building on the scientific evidence based literature and my own personal experiences.

It was really touching to feel like I had helped the participants process thier grief. The only reason I haven’t done more is that I really don’t like marketing and all the setup work involved.

I have been pondering doing an online version, but still have the same problem with marketing. I have published other courses on Udemy, like my 5 Minutes to Less Stress Class but that site isn’t really for helping market “live” classes.

I figure if I ever find the right marketing channel, or had enough of a following that I could get enough attendees, I could offer it online to a group, or individually to keep the costs down?

I’d love your thoughts, and what you think would help you release your grief.

20 years later, I still have dreams of my best friend as if she hadn’t died

My best friend died in 1996. More than 20 years later, I still have dreams where she’s alive. For the first 10 years or so, it was very disorienting. I would wonder for a few days if maybe they could be true. At that time, the dreams were about how there was some kind of mistake, or conspiracy, and she wasn’t really dead.

These days, I don’t have them as often, but when I do, they are usually some random activity, but she’s there. It can still be a little disorienting when I wake up. But I like to think that it’s as if her spirit is just trying to spend a little time with me, sharing an experience in my dreams, that we can’t have, while I’m awake.

Having my best friend die when I was so young definitely impacted my life trajectory. I am sure it contributes to my morbid tendancies. I definitely only write so much poetry becuase my pain over her loss and my teacher’s suggestion catapulted me into it. Once I had been writing poems, and writing to her for a couple of years, writing and being a poet just became a part of me.

Would I have written so much poetry, if she had lived? Would I have been so interested in psychology, if I hadn’t needed to work through my own grief? I wish I kept a journal of my dreams of her. I wonder if, if I could review them, those dreams would tell thier own story. Has she been influencing me through my subconscious somehow? Like an invisible angel on my shoulder, an extra consciousness, or perspective, that whispers advice when I need it? I’d like to think so, but I regret that I didn’t journal my dreams.

So if you have dreams about your best friend who died, please write them down in a dream journal. If you get several years worth, I’d love to help you analyze it and see if we can identify any themes, patterns, or messages in your journal. I did end up going after this PhD in Psychology, afterall!

Pondering COVID-19 and how suddenly death can happen – an inspired poem

When you hear about death, do you ever worry that you might die, when you feel you still have more to get done in this life? As the death numbers have crept up over the last few months, I’ve thought about that a lot.

I am not scared of dying, but the idea of dying, when I feel like I haven’t been able to make enough of a contribution to the world to justify my existence as being meaningful and valuable to our common good, makes me think that if I did die suddenly, my spirit self (or for those of you who don’t beleive, my concious, in that split-second before my brain shut off) would be really frustrated that I didn’t have a chance to get more done.

I have ADHD, one of the symptoms of which is that when I feel emotions, I tend to feel them very strongly. When I am passionate about something (which is often) my voice gets louder, which can be off putting to some people. I have to try really hard and pay a lot of attention, to manage this when doing public speaking, or just interacting with people who don’t know me well and can’t handle the full wattage of my personality.

Sometimes, trying to do good can be really exhausting. It’s often a lot of effort with little tangible reward. I was feeling that exhaustion, but also dwelling in a place of thankfulness for having loved ones who support my efforts.

With that in mind, I wrote these song lyrics/poem (yes, another song in my head that you’re only seeing in poem form, sorry), pondering a life cut off too short, my passion, spirit, and ideas: a flame, blown out too soon, before it could spread. I want to be a good kind of virus. One that can positively infect people to be better people, themselves. To do more good. To express love and kindness more. Etc.

In my head, I’m imagining it in a Adelle or Meghan Trainor kind of voice/lyrical style (a serious Meghan Trainor, that is). They both do great lyrics…

If you prefer poems over songs, you can skip over the choruses…

Here is:

A Match In Flames

(c) Alice Vo Edwards, 5/9/2020 v1

Sometimes I worry that I burn too bright
I’ll burn out fast; My light won’t last
So full of passion that it overflows
Yet no one sees me, no one knows

A single match has just a little time
To light a fire, to spread its’ spark
The limit’s set, no turning back the clock
Just a few more moments ‘til the stage goes dark

And I can’t go silent, I can’t stay quiet
It’d be so much easier if I could
I have to keep trying, I can’t deny it
Something inside me keeps crying out

There’s a soul deep yearning, for acceptance, for belonging
Longing so to find, another of my kind
So I strike that match, trying so hard to be seen
Will they finally notice me?

Cause No other drug fulfills,
Or can give me the same thill
No, Nothing else satisfies
Like acceptance in their eyes

And so I can’t go silent, I can’t stay quiet
Gonna hold this torch until the flame burns out
I have to keep trying, I can’t deny it
Something inside me keeps crying out

Can’t they see? Not the forest, but this tree?
I feel so lost among the crowd,
Alone, and yet, not standing out

My only solace is your grace
Your love a tangible home base
I don’t think you ever realize
How much you give me with your eyes

No I can’t go silent, I can’t stay quiet
Gonna hold this torch until the flame burns out
I have to keep trying, I can’t deny it
Something inside me keeps crying out

While I’m becoming, it’s hard to be
Still too entangled to be free
But when I look into your eyes
It’s like you open up the skies

If I’m a kite than you’re my string
Your love, my source of buffering
You ground me, yet, your tether gives
Your love, strung out, that I might live

Oh… I can’t go silent, I can’t stay quiet
Gonna hold this torch until the flame burns out
I have to keep trying, I can’t deny it
Something inside me keeps crying out

You think I only want your kiss
Not knowing how much better is
That moment when your gaze meets mine
When souls, near tangibly, entwine

And though the world is less than fair
Your love’s enough that I can dare
To brave its storms another time
For those who cannot, I’ll survive

So I won’t go silent, I won’t stay quiet
Gonna hold this torch until the flame burns out
I have to keep trying, I can’t deny it
Something inside me keeps crying out

If I burn out, it’s what will be
But I won’t go out silently
I’ll pass the spark to all who see
So they can carry on-a piece of me

Empathizing with someone who has lost someone they love, or has a sick loved one

COVID-19 has cost a lot of people the lives of people they love. While I haven’t lost a loved one to COVID-19, it definitely has had me thinking about it. Around easter, I was thinking about this topic.

I write a lot of poems from an empathetic perspective, imagining myself in someone else’s shoes. So, I found myself imagining:

  • Being in a hospital room with a spouse, significant other, or best friend, connected to ventilators, on life support.
  • Being a parent by a sick child’s bed, wondering – is this COVID-19? Or just a cold or flu? Should I take them to the hospital? It’s so expensive. I lost my job and can’t afford the medical bills if they say it’s just a flu and send me away.
  • Being an old woman, next to a sickly old man, knowing the disease is likely going to kill them, and wanting to die with them rather than be left alone. 

I was laying next to my husband, thinking about people going through those kinds of things, imagining the pain or grief I would be feeling now, if I had been (or was, in the future) in that situation with my husband, or my children.

Hearing my husbands heart beat under my ear as I cuddle next to him and he sleeps, and thinking of God and Easter and my husband the atheist, I was inspired to write this song. I say song, because in my head, it is a song. But I haven’t found anyone to help me actually write out the lyrics, and haven’t developed that skill-set yet.

I tried submitting it to a newspaper to share, but didn’t hear back from them. I could have saved it for a future publication or attempt to win a poetry competition, but I think the world needs it more, now. If it inspires feelings in you, please comment, and let me know how it touched you, or if it inspired you to do anything (like give a loved one a hug). I love the concept of functional poetry that can inspire positive change. Trying to start a movement around that, but so far, it’s a vision of just 1 (aka, me).

Hey God

(c) By Alice Vo Edwards 4/21/2019

Hey god

If you’re out there…

Can you hear me?

I’m just lying here

Sending up a prayer

To the man upstairs.

To the man upstairs

Hoping that you hear my prayers

Can you hear me?

Lying here

There’s nothing in this world

More precious than this heart beat

Next to me

Beating steadily

Oh, so rhythmically.

But this world

Is so often hard and hurting 

I can scarily imagine

That something bad could happen

And this heart beating next to me

Oh so very rhythmically 

Could be stilled.

And little could be worse in my life

Then to have this heart beat die.

So yeah, that’s why 

I’m just lying here

Sending up a prayer

To the man upstairs.

Maybe it’s been a while

And I should have called more often 

But I’m not calling for me

Or, well, at least not completely selfishly.

I just wanted to say

Thank you for this life—

No, not mine—


This beating heart next to me

What would I need to do

Could I trade you

To keep it beating?

I would give my own if I could 

Yes, I would

They’d be better of without me

Than I would be, left alone

Without them…

So yeah, that’s why 

I’m just lying here

Sending up a prayer

To the man upstairs.

Hoping that you hear my prayers

Just to thank you for another heart beat

Another moment

Of joy in my life, with them by my side

And I want another—

Please, keep them alive

Don’t let them die

Don’t leave me alone here

I’d rather go, too.

So god if that makes me selfish

Maybe I am—

And maybe that’s why

I chose now to pray 

In all of this time

Of all possible days

Maybe it’s love

That’s brought me back to you

They might not believe

Can I believe enough for two?

Is my love enough

To alter our destinies

To make you choose me

If anyone must die?

Maybe that’s why

I’m just lying here

Sending up a prayer

To the man upstairs.

To the man upstairs

Hoping that you hear my prayers

Hey, God.

Are you out there?

If you’re out there,

Hear my prayer.