Friday, July 27, 2007

Teaching Students to Write Stories out of NICU Experiences and Devastation

I have always been a believer in learning from the losses and the challenges that one faces in life and then using those experiences to help others facing similar crises, but are earlier in the process.

Kate Hopper has taken her own experiences as a NICU parent to a new level. She used her own NICU story of a preterm birth due to preeclampsia and the stories of other NICU parents and loss.

I was very impressed with her blog entry on heartbreak and hoping that I read this week. She shares her lesson plans to include two stories of heartbreak with her students in her "Mother Words" course at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis.

Her selections for the week included
Susan Ito’s "Samuel" and Suzanne Kamata's "You’re So Lucky." Kate writes that she "chose these pieces to spark discussion about point of view, emotional distance, and writing about heartbreak." Her goal in sharing the stories was to teach her students how to write "heartbreak without sentimentality, craft stories out of devastation."

Learning from NICU Experiences
In the graduate course that I taught last Spring on Grieving Family Systems, I had my graduate students read the formal research papers that I had written on Identifying, Understanding and Working with Grieving Parents in the NICU to give them the perspective of grief in the NICU parents. One of my students was a former NICU nurse, who found the information invaluable.

The older I get, the more that I believe we are given these experiences to learn from and then to turn around and teach others from our losses. Perhaps this is one of the better ways of making meaning from the loss.

Sources:
Hopper K. Heartbreak and Hoping. Mother Words: Mother's Who Write Blog.
July 25, 2007.
Dyer KA. Identifying, Understanding, and Working with Grieving Parents in the NICU, Part II: Strategies. Neonatal Network. June/July 2005; 24: 27-40.
Dyer KA. Identifying, Understanding, and Working with Grieving Parents in the NICU, Part I: Identifying and Understanding Loss and the Grief Response. Neonatal Network. May/June 2005; 24: 35-46.

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Photo Source: Nadya Smolskaya Paper Work. Permission to Use.

1 comment:

kate said...

Kirsti, thank you so much for your kind comments and for reading my blog. I am very interested in what you're doing here. I wish I had had this kind of resource four years ago! I also taught a workshop at the "Life After the NICU Conference" at Minnesota Children's Hospital a couple of years ago, which seemed to be helpful to parents.