Writing Toward Healing: Free Workshops for Adults Grieving the Loss of a Loved One
Our first Writing Toward Healing series at Carol Woods culminated in a June 12 reading, at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill.
Writing Toward Healing is an 8-week writing group for people living with chronic illness. If you would like to be informed about future programs, please send your name, email, and any questions you might have to: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 919-906-3670.
Read the Recent N&O profile featuring Writing Toward Healing series
From the workshop description: “Through writing, we will gently reflect, remember, and reconsider. We will honor our loved ones, reimagine our lives now, and discover inner resources we had no idea were within us.”
Writing For Resilience
I offer a prompt-based weekly writing workshop with Heidi Gessner at UNC Hospitals: Tuesdays, 12 – 1 pm in the hospital chapel. The workshop is open to hospital staff, patients and their families, and any members of the Chapel Hill and surrounding community looking for a writing respite. No registration required. No writing experience either. Sponsored by UNC Hospitals Bereavement Support Services, DooR to DooR, Project Compassion, and the Inavale Foundation. For more information contact Heidi Gessner, Palliative Care Chaplain/Bereavement Coordinator, Heidi.Gessner@unchealth.unc.edu
Writing Your Life As Story
I’m teaching a creative non-fiction workshop in the spring semester at Duke University’s OLLI Program. Writers bring nonfiction pieces to share with the group. We offer constructive suggestions and I give prompts and resources at each session.
About Carol’s Workshops
“Carol Henderson is a gift…a rare and true gift to everyone who is lucky enough to work with her. She possesses an inherent and unassuming talent to turn anyone into a ‘writer,’ especially those most convinced beforehand that they are NOT writers. Without fail, all my counseling clients and group members who have attended her bereavement writing workshops leave as changed people…not as healed individuals, but as people who believe more fully that healing is possible…”
–Donna M. Hampton, Director, Grief & Bereavement Services, Hospice & Palliative CareCenter Winston-Salem, NC 27103
More Workshops in 2016
I’ll be offering “Space for Ourselves: A Writing Workshop for Those Living with Chronic Illness” later in 2016 or early in 2017. (For a workshop description, scroll down to “More About:”)
My ongoing creative nonfiction and bereavement writing workshops are currently full. Please subscribe to my site to hear about new offerings.
Every March I teach a weekend writing workshop sponsored by the Resource Center for Women and Ministry in the South, RCWMS
Next year’s dates are March 17 and 18. More information later.
In December I finished a series of community writing workshops through Hospice and Palliative Care of Winston-Salem. Participants read from their work and the core group plans to continue meeting in 2016.
For the fifth year running I taught in the Focusing on Form program at Meredith College the last week of June. As always, the group was fabulous–their writing extraordinary. Focusing on Form will not be held in 2016. Meredith plans to offer other writing programs, perhaps in the academic year. Stay tuned.
I was invited to offer two sessions at The Carolinas Center for Hospice and End of Life Care held at the end of April at the Lake Junaluska Conference Center. What a beautiful and restful setting. My first writing session was “Writing Toward Healing.” and the second was a new workshop, “Creating Legacy Through Writing: For You and Your Loved Ones.” I was happy to offer the hard-working and committed attendees the chance to reflect and write. The sessions I attended were informative and effective–the presenters and attendees inspiring.Space for Ourselves: Art project
Space for Ourselves: A Writing Group for People Living with Illness
Tuesday, April 7, we met for our final group session. We wrote to prompts, created a collective poem, and produced art in response to a poignant video “With Grace” by Pamela Quinn.
A quote from Pam: “This disease (Parkinson’s) is so hard,” you say. But in a way it gives us more of each other and it bears other unexpected gifts–creativity, empathy, lack of inhibition. What choice do we have but to accept and try to use these gifts, with grace?
The writing group had a full house for the Flyleaf reading at the end of March and readers got a standing ovation! A lively reception followed. Kudos to the brave and brilliant members of this group, who read from their hearts, telling truths we so seldom address in our sanitized society.
Space for Ourselves: A Writing Group for People Living With Illness
Writing about deep and difficult aspects of life not only offers fresh perspective and meaning; research shows writing is also good for our health.
I was delighted to co-lead this group with Allison Harrison (left), a community social worker and writer who is herself a bone marrow transplant survivor. She completed her Masters in Social Work and Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where she also received Honors in Creative Writing as an undergraduate. Allison has worked on many issues of social justice and healing, including sexual violence prevention and survivor support, HIV prevention education, and support for people with serious and chronic illness.
Allison and I guided participants through a series of writing exercises–designed to help group members turn inward for wisdom, draw on existing literature as inspiration, and gain fortitude. Sponsored by Project Compassion, a 501(c)(3).
The group gave a reading at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, on Sunday, March 16th at 3 pm.
A Day of One’s Own: A Writing Workshop
I love offering an annual writing weekend through the RCWMS. You don’t have to be in ministry to participate–most folks who sign up aren’t.In this all-day workshop, we examined and wrote about a single day in the life of a character. In the novel Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf explores a woman’s experience on a day, June 13, as she plans for a party she is giving. We picked a day in our lives (a composite day perhaps) or in the life of a character we are working with, and created—in our own style and voice—a vivid portrait of this character’s inner and outer life. We worked with flash back, idiosyncrasy, and other thought processes as well as with moving a character forward through his or her day. This workshop was open to writers at all levels of experience. We wrote a lot.
We had a beautiful reading on December 4 at the Winston Hospice. Community members who attended the Writing Toward Healing workshops read compelling and brave pieces from the sessions.
Writing Toward Healing
In 2014 I offered another series of Writing Toward Healing Workshops at the Hospice and Palliative CARECENTER in Winston-Salem, sponsored by Project Compassion and The Inavale Foundation. The series culminated in a public reading on December Thursday, December 4.
WriteGirls Summer Camp
I loved working with the WriteGirls Summer Camp. WriteGirls is an intensive writing experience for teenage girls, which I created with the help of Biz Presler-Marshall. For more information on WriteGirls, contact Biz Presler-Marshall: email@example.com.
Recently, I co-led a Group-Leader Training program for Amherst Writers and Artists, in Mebane, NC. I’ve co-led several groups with founder Pat Schneider. If you’re interested in a comprehensive method for learning how to lead prompt-based writing workshops, and for lots of follow-up support, check out the AWA site: click here.
Short Takes on the Self: A Writing Workshop
A weekend writing workshop in Durham, N.C., for writers of all genres and all levels of experience. Through carefully selected prompts, we explored watershed moments, life themes, and the evolution of our sense of self. Plumbing memory, dreams, and point of view, we used what we unearthed to write more deeply, find far-reaching meaning, and create compelling stories and essays. Everyone wrote a lot and left changed by what they had discovered. This workshop is sponsored by the Resource Center for Women and Ministry in the South.
Farther Along: Writing Toward Reflection, Self-Awareness and Healing
I offered a daylong writing workshop in Winston-Salem, NC. This workshop explored how writing can help manage the pain of grief by awakening new personal awareness and offering transformative shifts in perspective for yourself and others. Designed for community members and professionals touched by grief and bereavement and for anyone who is interested in reflective writing. Sponsored by Wake Forest School of Medicine and Northwest AHEC.
Workshops and Events from 2013
The Powerful Narrative: A Writing Workshop
My husband Bill and I had a terrific group of writers at Wildacres Retreat Center in September for our fourth Powerful Narrative Writing Workshop retreat.
Mining for Gold: Journaling into a Deeper Life
This is my premiere journaling workshop. Here’s the workshop description:
“Keeping a journal is one of the most productive of all methods for reconsidering our world, preserving our experiences, and exploring our deepest selves. On the pages of a journal we can let our inner voices reign while we develop our writing skills. It’s through this kind of “deep diving” into creative projects that we find ways to tell our own life stories. Experience first-hand how journals can help us come to terms with our pasts, discover joy in the present, and transform our futures. Unlocking the full power of this multi-purpose tool, we’ll explore memory, point-of-view, dreams, life chapters, character portraits, poetry, dialogues with aspects of ourselves, and more. We’ll acquire new techniques to enliven our writing with fresh, new ways to view our lives and creative selves. And as always, since the emphasis is on process, not product, come prepared to write.” (Meredith College, June, 2013)
Farther Along: Symposium, Readings, and Panel Discussion
A 2-session symposium held in Salisbury, N.C. Some of the women who are part of the Farther Along Group gathered with participants to write in the morning session and later, for readings and a panel discussion in the afternoon. Phyllis Keels of Salisbury wrote about the symposium: “The exercises, at first blush, seemed easy, but they were so much harder than I thought. Hard in a good way. They helped me process aspects of my daughter’s death in a new and healing way. Thank you for doing what you do. You are making a difference in people’s lives–namely mine.” The symposium was sponsored by The Michael Yang Foundation and hosted by the Literary Book Post. (April, 2013)
Sandra Rogers (left), checked out Farther Along from her local library five times. On her left is Beverly Burton, a member of our Farther Along Group, who organized the Salisbury symposium.
Those Who Shape Us
Good narrative writing begins with good characters. Those Who Shape Us: Character Portraits of the Important People In Our Lives, held in Raleigh, N.C., was an intensive, hands-on workout in how to create full-blooded portraits of friends, family members, mentors, and ancestors, those we love, miss, admire––and even those we hold in awe, fear, or even condemn. (April, 2013)
Writing Toward Healing: A Weekend of Writing Workshops
April 12 – 14 in Richmond, Virginia. Sponsored by Noah’s Children
Creating Stories to Keep
A good story, like a good garden, cultivates the “wild permissiveness of the inner life” (poet Stanley Kunitz). In this two-day workshop, Creating Stories to Keep: Unearthing the Secrets of Powerful Narrative, we learned to give voice to our own wild inner lives through a series of craft exercises. The process allows us to pull stories out of us we had no idea were there, and learn to mold them into narratives with energy and momentum. Sponsored by RCWMS.
Selected Events from 2012
Reflective Writing for Psychologists
Care Net Counseling invited us to offer a mini symposium as part of their annual meeting, at Winston-Salem. In attendance were all the psychologists and staff from the organization. Kathy Shoaf, a member of our Farther Along Group who had sought counseling through Care Net, told the 100 assembled attendees about her family’s positive experience working with Care Net. I led the assembled staff and psychologists in several writing exercises for their own personal enrichment and to use with their clients. We ended the afternoon with a panel discussion featuring members of our group on the role of writing in our healing journeys.
On Saturday, November 10, I led the second of two morning workshop at Hospice of Winston Salem, 9:30 – noon. We’re planning to offer a series of workshops again next fall.
On Sunday, November 11 several of us from Farther Along: The Writing Journey of Thirteen Bereaved Mothers, read at McIntyre’s Books, in Pittsboro, NC, at 2 pm. We had a lively discussion after the reading.
SYMPOSIUM: “Farther Along: Writing Toward Healing
I led this all-day symposium based on principles I’ve written about in my book,Farther Along: the Writing Journey of 13 Bereaved Mothers. It was held at Hospice Support of Fauquier County, in Virginia, Saturday, November 3. Maritta Gotz and Gil Brooker of Hospice Support organized a seamless day in a beautiful venue. We all enjoyed the writing and readings. I was happy to have a combination of funding sources making this symposium possible: it was a “joint production” of Carol Henderson Workshops LLC, Project Compassion, Duke Health and Home Care, Heartland Hospice, Hospice of Wake County, Chapel of the Cross Episcopal Church, Sandra Jarr, and the Inavale Foundation. The workshop led participants to explore the ways writing can help manage the pain of grief–by awakening new personal awareness and offering transformational shifts in perspective in oneself and others. The day-long symposium was intended for both lay people and professionals. (May, 2013).Special thanks to the women from our book, Farther Along, who helped out and sat on a panel about the role of writing in their healing journeys: Betsy Anderson (she lives nearby and initiated the workshop), Dottye Currin, Kay Windsor, and Peggy Clover.
Our generous sponsors included: Fauquier Bank, Randy Minter, Moser Funeral Home, Village Flowers, and Harris Teeter.
Friday-Sunday, October 26-28, 2012
I taught at a writing retreat in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, for a privately invited group of women. We had a glorious time. This weekend the place will be covered in snow.
Saturday, October 6, 2012
I led an all-day “Writing Toward Healing” workshop in Richmond, Virginia, sponsored by Noah’s Children.
Panel Discussion: Farther Along
I moderated a panel discussion at Hospice in Winston-Salem, on the benefits of reflective writing. The panel included members of the writing group I’ve led for the past 10 years–the women featured in my book, Farther Along: The Writing Journey of Thirteen Bereaved Mothers.
As these workshops continue, I hope you can join us. I will be listing future events here on my website. And be in touch if you’re interested in hosting a writing event in your community.