Been a blast




Dear ADL310 course mates,

With my teaching and nursing education and experience, you would expect that I’ve been in classes with a greater than average number of caring and compassionate people – I have.

You might also expect that there would have been great relationships and connections formed with those people – there have.

HOWEVER, I feel that through the postings in this course, the angst and the sharing, that I have enjoyed getting to know many of you more than people in any other class I’ve taken – especially online.

I hope that the connections on Facebook and LinkedIn will continue – in fact, I really hope that they do.

Thanks for letting me get to know you, share this journey, learned and been inspired by you, laughed and found our websites a place to come to be enriched. (Such an awkward sentence for someone in the writing program – but you know what I’m trying to say)

Best wishes for ALL of your future endeavors. If I can ever help you with anything about grief or transitionning, please just send me a message at


Wendy Kurchak aka torontogirl54




Santa Claus Bash 2012 – a break from grief

adrian aka reindeer

Hi all

Well, sometimes I just need to get away from  grief work.  Check out the example of our family having fun making the 2012 edition of our song and video “Santa Claus Bash 2012” on Youtube.

It’s a totally irreverent song about Santa and the reindeer indulging in libations after their Christmas Eve run!


Happy Holidays,


Entertained and Educated

As I’m shortly leaving the country for a week, and will be without internet access, I am posting this blog after watching just a few of my classmate’s videos. They have been an absolute delight! I have learned new styles, tricks and been entertained and intrigued.  I’ll comment on just a couple of classmates videos available on YouTube – my feelings about them are reflected in the picture above – they are STARS!

I found the use of the xtranormal mediumvery interesting, as it seems to suit the delivery of some messages much better than others. The video, “Adrienne and Owen discuss Christmas”, by FloorArtist is an excellent example where the format has been incorporated into the script with a successful outcome. I actually watched this video a few times – I laughed throughout the video. Not only is this classmate visually talented, but she could take a comedy act on the road.

Peaceful Mind’s video, “What’s your Intent?” is another video which I watched more than once. The use of visuals, and the well-written script which is well articulated, and has a warm, engaging tone inspired me to try the suggestions put forth in the video. Setting an intention each morning has changed my focus and attitude for those days; not only was this a well- produced video, but its message is potentially life-changing for viewers.

“Thank you” to my classmates for sharing their wisdom, creativity and gifts with me. I’m looking forward to being further entertained and educated by my other classmate’s videos on my return.



Grieving with YouTube

The most significant indicator for healthy grieving is the mourner’s perception of an adequate support system. Where it might previously have been the neighbour next door or a friend on the telephone, grievers can now garner worldwide support through social media.

One important aspect of support is the sharing of wisdom and knowledge. Now, the bereaved can access the collective wisdom of experts and fellow grievers alike through videos on platforms such as YouTube. Even if the griever is thousands of miles from their own culture, chances are that they’ll find help and support somewhere on the web, in the form of a video.

For those who grieve through their senses, the visual features of video augment the auditory aspects of the media. The opportunity to watch actual people talking about their own experiences with grief helps facilitate a sense of connection for the bereaved.

For those grievers who primarily process their grief through “doing and thinking”, watching a video is something they can do to help understand their process.

One of the greatest strengths of video is its capacity to support the medium of story-telling; the auditory and visual aspects of the story-teller can be well transmitted to the audience. Listening to other’s stories about their own grief, and experience, can be a powerfully healing and supportive tool for the bereaved. A brief example of this can be seen on the YouTube video by Diane Sawyer, “Women’s Conference Dealing with Grief.

So, what’s another way to think of YouTube and social media video – a gift for the grieving.

Death comes to YouTube

The field of thanatology encompasses a wide range of issues related to death, dying and grief. Although the North American culture generally tends to be death denying, the vast number of videos available on YouTube suggest that (1) people have found a safe and receptive platform on social media to express their thoughts and feelings about death and grief, or (2) our culture is not as death denying as suggested by research, or (3) social media is influencing our culture’s attitudes by providing a new arena for discussion. This would be a wonderful research project for a social media, or thanatology thesis.

As in all fields, the scope of quality and information in the thanatology related videos runs the gamut from inaccurate and detrimental, to that which is helpful and sound. For the ADL310 assignment, I focused on videos which could be considered for marketing, or utilized a contemporary form of media.

Dr. Robert Niemeyer, Ph.D. is my favourite grief researcher, author and educator. He is extremely well-respected in the field, and any YouTube video with Bob can be counted as reliable and useful. In addition to his extensive work in thanatology, he also writes poetry, and it is on this subject which I selected a YouTube example. In this video, from the 31st annual conference of the Association for Death Education and Counselling, “Dr. Robert Niemeyer Ph.D. – Poetry” Bob reads from his books of poetry. Although an educational video, it might also be regarded as a marketing tool as it may attract people to his work.

Therese Rando and William Worden are two other very highly respected thanatologists; I’ve heard Rando called “the goddess of thanatology”, and Worden’s stages of grief have superseded Kubler-Ross’s work in this area. Using “xtranormal” media, an interesting overview of their work, and marketing of their expertise in this field, can be seen on “Grief theorists talking”. I found the conversation relatively easy to follow, other than the strange digitally produced voices, however, I might have been totally lost if I had not been already acquainted with their work. The animation doesn’t appeal to me, however, it may be better suited for another generation.

Finally, a very strange find on YouTube is the marketing video “Health Book Review – How to Go on When Someone You Love Dies, by Therese Rando”. This is essentially a podcast review of Rando’s book. The voice sounds digitally produced, and for me it was difficult to understand. I would be very interested if this video would attract or convert anyone to purchase this very w – tell written and helpful book.

One last mention; back to the death denying aspect of our culture, I did find a video which addressed death within the context of comedy. “George Carlin on death – RIP” brings death, grieving and the afterlife to the stage. Be forewarned – this video has extreme language and content which may be very offensive to some viewers! However, I did laugh at many parts about what people say to the bereaved.



“Gifts for the Grieving” on YouTube



My video “Gifts for the Grieving” is up on Youtube!

It’s 10 minutes long; to make the video actually helpful, I wanted to include all the information in the content, but it turns out that I also like to listen to the sound of my own voice.

The video is very low-key, subdued and slow – I kept the energy level very low to match that of many grieving folks. Likewise, the background music is also very slow – I selected non-Christmas music purposefully.

I also chose to use the word ‘Christmas” vs “holiday” for a number of reasons. It might be politically incorrect ( or whatever the appropriate expression is) but it fits my target audience ( this is my coursework from the course “Strategic Writing for Public Relations and Marketing influencing my work in ADL310…).

I created a basic powerpoint slide presentation, and then did a voice over with Camtasia ( after many, many practices) . You can’t edit the powerpoint photos after you record the screen, so rather than try to edit the sound and seperate photos in Camtasia, I did the work in PowerPoint and added the voice over.

I found that trial and error efforts took alot of time, but in some ways was easier than trying to understand all the tutorials. However, the tutorials were helpful when I need specific guidance. Time restraints limited extra editing of the video i.e transitions within the photos, special effects, etc.

I like Camtasia – I prefer it to Windows Movie Maker 7. Actually I prefer the XP version of Movie Maker over “7”….. I’m going to use my free trial time with Camtasia to create another video for Christmas – part of the “creative” strategy for coping with grief, and/or working with the bereaved. In that video, I will do the editing in Camtasia. If I like it, I might consider purchasing the program.

Please share the Youtube link with anyone who you think might be needing some ideas how to survive the upcoming holidays – it isn’t a fancy presentation, but I sincerely hope that it can offer support to people who are grieving.


Wendy Kurchak


Facebook entries

Hi #ADL31

I realized, on  this bright, sunny Sunday afternoon, that I have not been keeping track of Facebook entries in my  blog. However, most of my work has been documented through Twitter, and the majority of my Facebook assignments were done on November 4th. You can find them at:

I will be ‘offline’ in this course for the next few days while I re-direct my time to complete a major assignment in my other course, ‘Strategic Writing….’




Podcasts in Thanatology


Hi Everyone,

Thanatology is a fascinating field in its juxtaposition with a number of other disciplines.

As my own podcast presented music as a healing agent for crying babies, or the bereaved or dying, I started my search for thanatology related podcasts in the field of music therapy. Janice Lindstrom’s podcasts at Music Therapy Show Blog Talk  capture the vastness of the issues which may be addressed through music therapy, including grief. This is a free subscription to which I subscribed through iTunes.

After finding Lindstrom’s podcast, I ran into difficulty finding podcasts on most of the websites I tend to use for grief information. In fact, other than some podcasts that are included in the course materials at Life and Death Matters, I couldn’t find any other examples. Although I widened my search,  hit a roadblock finding grief or death related podcasts.

I went to Blog Talk Radio where I knew that there was a podcast with Laurel Lewis about Death and Dying Dinner Parties. I continued searching the site and found a number of other grief related podcasts by Sarah Zink, such as this one about grief over the holidays. This is a timely podcast as holiday commercials are starting to pop up on TV and Christmas songs are being piped through the malls. Although there are a number of podcasts about grief included on this website, it isn’t a resource dedicated to just grief and dying.

Although my search was cursory, other than some isolated podcasts about grief on websites addressing social needs in general, finding a podcast site about grief to which I could subscribe was unsuccessful. Although frustrating for the purpose of this assignment, it may indicate a need for podcasts in this field. However, given the vast number of YouTube grief-related videos, it could be that podcasts might just be redundant and not as desirable as a video presentation.

If you have any sites for podcasts about grief and dying, I welcome you to share them with us.



Podcast #2 “Music soothes the soul – Part 2”

Hi Everyone,

Now that you’ve listenned to my first podcast, “Music soothes the soul – Part 1“, you can now hear the demo of the 5 tips for singing a baby to sleep. Featuring the 1939 hit song”Three Little Fishies”, and the endearing folksong “Tumbalalaika” ( which is likely Yiddish and not Ukrainian as I’ve suggested in the podcasts), Torontogirl54 presents an easy-to-listen example how to sing a baby to sleep. Warning – do not listen to this while driving or operating heavy machinery.

“Music to soothe the soul- Part 2 aka Let me sing you to sleep”

Here are the progam notes to follow as you listen.

Music soothes the soul Part 2 or Let Me Sing You to Sleep

Welcome back to Music soothes the soul with me, torontogirl 54

So, in the first podcast of this series, “Music Soothes the Soul, Part 1, or Singing a Baby to Sleep”, I shared five singing techniques to help you sing a crying baby to sleep. How about a quick review?

(1)    First of all, it’s not important to know the words to any song that you’re going to sing; humming and singing ‘lahs’ or ‘dahs’ are the way to go.

(2)    Next, you’re going use mirroring to help the baby slow their breathing. Slower singing leads to slower breathing.

(3)    As you begin to sing slower, you are also going to begin to sing softer. Eventually, you’ll want to change from words to non- sensible sounds such as ‘lah’.

(4)    Lower the pitch, or the key, so that you don’t have any really high notes in your song.

(5)    At some point you’re going to change the melody line or stop singing a particular song altogether just to do the ‘rocking and swooping’.

As promised, I’m going to demonstrate these tips with the 1939 song “Three Little Fishes”, and the Yiddish folksong,” Tumbalalaika”. I’m going to sing “Three Little Fishies”, 3 times, and then “Tumbalalaika” about 4 times. I won’t be stopping to explain what I’m doing, but I will be incorporating the 5 tips we’ve looked at. Listen for them, and by all means, sing along!

On one last note, as you listen to this demo, keep in mind that this is JUST an example; you can sing whatever you want to sing, however you want to sing it, and as long as you are calm and grounded yourself, chances are good that you’re going to sing that baby to sleep.

Three Little Fishies

First time – original version – low key

Second time – improve on chorus

Third time – slow down – improve on chorus


First verse – regular, but softer

Second verse – regular but take out the top notes

Third verse – slowing, swooping

Fourth time – no words, rocking, swooping, improv