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Style · October 31, 2012

Writing to cope with grief topic of Saturday workshop

Betsy Anderson of Casanova wrote this book after the 1995 death of her daughter, Caroline Elizabeth.
The poster for Saturday's symposium, presented by Hospice Support of Fauquier.
“We are all writers. Writing offers us ways to delve into ourselves and our experience that talking and thinking do not offer.”
— Carol Henderson, author and symposium leader
Healing grief symposium
• What: Presentation by authors, then participants will write about grief and share in small groups

• When: 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3

• Where: John Barton Payne Building, 2 Courthouse Square, Warrenton

• Sponsor: Hospice Support of Fauquier County

• Cost: Free, but registration is required.

• Phone: 540-347-5922 to register.
Local author Betsy Anderson knows a thing or two about grief.

She and her husband Rick lost their daughter, Caroline Elizabeth, a 16-year-old student at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, to a sudden, fatal illness in 1995.

The Andersons’ extended family and the larger Warrenton/Fauquier community shared in their loss.

Now, Mrs. Anderson will be one of the members of a writing symposium to help others deal with grief. The symposium will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, at the John Barton Payne Building in downtown Warrenton.

Writing has helped Mrs. Anderson come to terms with the loss of her daughter. In 1998, she published Fly On, My Sweet Angel, her book about Caroline’s death and the journey toward healing that followed.

Since 2002, she has been a member of a group of 13 women who get together to write about loss and grief. The group typically meets twice a year in North Carolina but recently spent a week together writing in France.

Each woman in Mrs. Anderson’s writing group has suffered the death of a child, and one has lost two children. Auto accidents, illnesses and suicides have resulted in these tragic losses, each death different. But through writing, group members have found common threads binding them together in their quest for healing.

The group leader, Carol Henderson recently published Farther Along; The Writing Journey of Thirteen Bereaved Mothers. The book is a collection of writings about the individual journeys of the mothers in this group.

Farther Along offers not only personal stories of loss, healing, and transformation, but also prompts and ideas for those who want to explore writing as a tool for healing. Beautifully written and well organized, the book is an excellent resource for anyone looking for help in dealing with grief.

Ms. Henderson will lead Saturday’s symposium, offered in collaboration with Hospice Support of Fauquier. It is open to the public. Several members of the group, including Mrs. Anderson, will participate in the symposium.

Professionals who work with the bereaved and laypersons, who have suffered the loss of a loved one and are dealing with grief and the grieving process, are invited. Everyone who attends will write and have the chance to explore his or her inner terrain, as well as share some of the writings in small groups.

While this is a writing workshop, anyone can participate.

“We are all writers,” says Ms. Henderson. “Writing offers us ways to delve into ourselves and our experience that talking and thinking do not offer.”

In her book’s opening essay, Mrs. Henderson, whose infant son died from a rare heart defect, writes: “Flannery O’Connor says you might save somebody else’s life by writing and that, actually, the life you save might very well be your own . . . Writing has saved mine.”

Copies of the book will be available at the symposium. The event is free of charge, but attendance is limited and preregistration is required. (Phone 540-347-5922 to register.)
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