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Creativity & Madness - CME Lecture
Healing from Grief Using a Website, Color, Writing, Poetry & Wilderness
Dec 27, 2000: Learning Objectives

The Internet has an enormous potential for providing web-education, or clarifying information. It also has the potential of incorporating many different modalities—color, art, poetry, images, graphics, and writing—to create a unique on-line experience. One of the challenges for this new millennium will be to find ways of accessing the Internet technology for patient education.

Grief and loss are common experiences that left untreated can result in personal anguish, multiple somatic complaints, functional impairment, over utilization of health care systems, clinical depression and a risk of suicide. Unrecognized and untreated acute depression or grief response following a significant loss can result in personal anguish, multiple somatic complaints, functional impairment, over utilization of health care systems, clinical depression, and a risk of suicide. Grief also impacts friends, family, and the community of those affected by the loss; thus one person’s grief ultimately affects many people. One potential use of the Internet is creating resources to help in diagnosing, treating, and managing the increasing number of people with depression and grief.

The Journey of Hearts website,, demonstrates the blending of Internet artistic and technologic components with education to find highly effective, new methods of reaching, educating and helping patients and providers. The design combines medicine, psychiatry, poetry, prose and images and other modalities show to be effective in helping with the grieving process. This is a new style of medical website: part medical, part psychiatric, part art, part literary and part self-help, one that functions as an adjunctive medical resource to educate while still being visually appealing. Incorporated into the design are many different elements that have been shown to be effective methods of helping people to heal during the grieving process. The site provides medical, non-medical and inspirational resources and support for anyone at any time with Internet access.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the grief response, the various symptoms of grief, the various causes, how unprocessed grief impacts physical and mental health.
  • Recognize signs and symptoms of depression and/or complicated grief
  • Discussing the importance of "Healing the Healer" giving physicians and other healthcare providers the time to heal from their losses—personal and professional.
  • Use of the Internet, via a multi-modality website,, as an educational tool to help visitors understand the grief process.
  • Discuss various different modalities that can be utilized to help aid in the healing process from loss—color, poetry, writing and wilderness therapies—with examples from the website.
Supplemental Articles:
The following articles were handed out as supplemental materials for this presentation:
  • Dyer, KA. Thompson CD. Journey of Hearts: From Idea to Reality A Website for Web-

  • education on Grief and Loss. ITCH 2000 (Information Technology in community Health) Conference Preceedings. University of Victoria, School of Information Health Sciences. Available at: Site
  • Dyer KA, Thompson CD. Triad of Medical Web-Education: Advantages of Using a Website for Patient Web-education. JAMIP. November 1, 1999. Available at: Medical Web-Education.
  • Dyer KA. "Journey of Hearts™ website offers resources to cope with loss." National Association for Poetry Therapy: The Museletter, March 1999. Available at: Museletter.
  • Zotovich KD. Helping Families Deal with Loss Through the Journaling Process. Available at: Journaling.
  • Horowitz HW. Poetry on Rounds: a model for the integration of humanities into residency training. Lancet 1996; 347:447-49.
  • Shelton DL. Healing words: Some doctors find poetry can treat wounds that medicine can't always reach. AMNews May 17, 1999. Available at:
  • Dyer KA. Nature Awareness as a Therapeutic Modality: The Healing Qualities of Nature. Available as a later version of the article at: Nature Awareness.
The American Institute of Medical Education
The American Institute of Medical Education is a non-profit educational organization established in 1981. They have sponsored more than 80 national and international conferences. The Creativity and Madness, Psychological Studies of Art and Artists conference is designed for the intelligent layman interested in art, psychology, and creativity, as well as the general medical community. For more information see their website at: Leaving site.

One of the challenges for this new millennium will be to find ways of
accessing the Internet technology for patient education.

Kirsti A. Dyer, MD, MS

See the Emergency 911 Page for links to immediate resources
if you are feeling helpless, hopeless, overwhelmingly depressed, or suicidal.

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Last update July 20, 2002