The Heart-work: Writing About Grief: A One-Day FREE Generative Class with Vanessa Mártir

I lost my beloved dog Napoleon last week. We adopted him a few months after my brother Juan Carlos died eight years ago. Napoleon helped me climb out of the darkest place of my life. He gave me a reason to get up every day. I started taking him on long walks through Inwood Hill Park, then we started hiking the trails—all things that healed me.

Napoleon’s death is bringing up a lot of old grief, and is also showing me just how much healing I’ve done. 

This feels like a good time to offer this class again, “The Heart-Work: Writing about Grief.” 

Grief is both a private and public act. Artists work to capture the journey in their art. 

If I’ve learned anything about grief, it’s that I need my grief to be witnessed. I’m not the only one… 

Modern artist Candy Chang built the first ‘Before I Die’ wall in New Orleans in 2011 after the death of a loved one got her thinking about what matters in life.

In this ongoing ‘participatory art’ piece, members of the public are invited to write down what they want to achieve before they die on a giant chalkboard wall. Since then there have been over 2,000 walls in over 70 countries, each one created by the local community and passers-by sharing their deepest desires and ambitions. 

Chang also set up a Before I Die website where you can find out more and see what people wrote.

I’ve read thousands of essays, memoirs, novels and poems that center grief and loss. As with most of my classes, I didn’t know I was creating this class for years, and when I finally did, it was because I wish I’d had the guidance back then too. 

In this class, we will cover:
– What is grief? 
– How can we write about about this complex, abstract emotion in nuanced ways? 
– How can we bring the reader into our stories? 
– What can we learn from reading about this topic?
– How can we make our tear-soaked writings into literature?

To register and for inquiries, email writingourlivesworkshop@gmail.com with “Grief Writing” in the subject line. 

Hope to see you! 

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