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Hospice of Santa Barbara Celebrates National Poetry Month, Facilitates Writing for Healing Group

National Poetry Month is held every April, when people throughout the United States band together to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture. Thousands of organizations, including Hospice of Santa Barbara, participate through readings, festivals, book displays, workshops and other events.

Since 2002, Perie Longo, Ph.D., MFT and registered poetry therapist, has been facilitating a weekly Writing for Healing Group at Hospice of Santa Barbara. She began this group as a way to return the tremendous help Hospice of Santa Barbara gave her during her husband’s illness and death.

Participants need not have any previous writing experience. Poetry of published authors is a catalyst for processing grief after loss of a loved one and serves as inspiration for one’s own writing. Longo is poet laureate emerita of Santa Barbara (2007-09), past president of the National Association for Poetry Therapy (2005-07) and chair of the Poetry Committee for the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and has been featured in the Huffington Post and was a guest on the Charles Osgood radio show to speak about poetry for healing.

Grieving through poetry is a healthy way to deal with the loss of someone special. When a loved one dies, there is a vast range of emotions that plague us. Some of these include sorrow, anger, fear, listlessness, disappointment and regret. As we deal with our heavy emotions, we need an outlet. Mental health professionals agree that releasing our grief is necessary.

Some of the ways people can benefit from poetry include:

» Healing, which comes from the poignant words
» Understanding your own sorrow as you see others who have been through loss as well
» Feeling that you are not alone in your grief
» Hope that things will improve
» Comfort from the heartfelt verses
(Adapted from http://dying.lovetoknow.com)

The following is a poem by Barbara Tysell, who participated in Longo’s poetry group at Hospice of Santa Barbara:

Eternity

Ashes scattered
You mattered
Life ended
Newly born.

When I lost you
time rocked my soul
I caught my breath
But could not breathe
the stifled air ... as you
flew on a flight to nowhere.

A planet was formed
giving sustenance for
all eternity,
There is where
I will meet ...
You will greet ...
Don’t cry, my love,
I will find you
in the sweet, sweet, sweet ...

For more information about Hospice of Santa Barbara poetry groups and other services, please call 805.563.8820.

Hospice of Santa Barbara “volunteers” its free professional counseling and care management services to more than 550 children and adults every month who are experiencing the impact of a life-threatening illness, or grieving the death of a loved one. Hospice of Santa Barbara is also present on eight local middle and high school campuses to work with children and teens who are grieving the loss of a loved one.

For more information about Hospice of Santa Barbara, including volunteer opportunities, call 805.563.8820 or click here. Find Hospice of Santa Barbara on Facebook and Twitter.

— Kelly Kapaun is a publicist representing Hospice of Santa Barbara.

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