~ Articles about Journey
of Hearts ~
Journey of Hearts
Spiritual Sisters of the Internet
Volume One Issue Three
October 14, 2000
The Journey of Hearts website,
www.journeyofhearts.org, is a web sanctuary for those dealing with
the many facets of the often unrecognized areas of grief and loss. It is
an example of one physician’s vision to create a web resource to educate
her patients and help others. The site was created in part, to heighten
public awareness of grief and loss, while providing education and resources,
in the hope of removing some of the social stigmas associated with those
who are grieving.
The website started as a brainstorm idea of physician
Kirsti A. Dyer, MD, MS, FAAETS. The idea to create the website originated
after many informal discussions with other primary care, internal medicine
and emergency physicians. We discovered we were all seeing more people
ultimately diagnosed with depression, stress, or grief, and having less
time to spend per patient. Often these patients only revealed the information
after many medical problems had been eliminated and then they were unable
or unwilling to seek counseling. The social stigma of admitting to a diagnosis
of depression, grief or anxiety may contribute to the reluctance to seek
further treatment. We decided what we needed was a resource to which we
could refer patients, friends, colleagues and other health care providers
for information, resources and support in dealing with the issues of grief
A site such as Journey of Hearts is one that doesn't
just "happen" over night. The idea to create a website devoted to the topic
of loss was the culmination of many different influences--people, patients,
events, practicing medicine, or not being able to and several life loss
experiences. The initial influences behind the creation of the site were
frustration with the current state of medicine, the fact that the areas
of loss and grief were being overlooked by most physicians within the medical
field, and the deaths of a Princess and a Saint.
In the summer of 1997, Dr. Dyer watched the world
wide grief response [and the Internet response] to the deaths of Princess
Diana and Mother Teresa and knew she needed to do something. That something,
ultimately became creating the website for dealing with loss and healing.
Taking her experiences as a physician, her own losses, the losses and experiences
of many colleagues, friends, and website visitors, Dr. Dyer created and
designed an integrative web resource. It is a combined effort of those
who have experienced many different types of losses, blended into Journey
of Hearts. She calls it a "labor of love," devoting over 3,000 hours to
research, create, write, design, organize and maintain the 600 + pages
of the site over almost three years.
Medicine, psychiatry, poetry, prose and images
are combined to provide medical and non-medical resources, support, inspiration
and education for those who visit the site after experiencing a life-changing
loss. By combining these various disciplines with images and color we have
developed a new style of medical website, one that can be "experienced"
as much as accessed for medical information. What results is a medical
website that is part medical, part psychiatric, part art, part literary,
and part self-help, which can be used as an adjunct to medical treatment.
Everyone has certain deaths that impact them.
In addition to the loss of several young friends and many patients, Dr.
Dyer was particularly impacted by the deaths of John Lennon, Harry Chapin,
Karen Carpenter, John Denver, Phil Hartman, Dr. Leo Buscaglia, John F.
Kennedy Jr., the Columbine Tragedy and many of the Air and Natural disasters,
Kosovo…and the list continues. These losses are reflected in the
Journey of Hearts Website.
A website such as Journey of Hearts would not
have come into existence without the contributions and the collective experiences
of those friends, family, colleagues, patients, patient's family members,
and visitors to the site-- who are all united by loss. From this diverse
group, along with Dr. Dyer’s own researching come the resources—the articles,
the poems, the quotes, the pictures, the photos, and the stories that comprise
Journey of Hearts.
This voluntarily produced website is a free on-line
resource, a "virtual hand-holding" for those who may not have access to
services and provide a safe place for people to visit in the middle
of the night, when friends and family are not available. Through the use
of Internet technology, visitors to the site are empowered with knowledge
to help themselves, friends and family through the often devastating, potentially
fatal experience of loss, and improve the quality of their health. With
nearly 170,000 visitors since April 1998, this multi-award winning
website is providing Internet grief aid to American and international web
communities, filling a void in the treatment of depression and grief by
providing web-education and resources, and serving as an adjunctive Medical
Internet resource that is available at anytime.
Our original hope was to help even just one person
to heal their losses. By the responses to the site, one realizes that the
site has helped thousands. It is impossible to assess the full impact that
Journey of Hearts may have because of the ripple effect on others. For
every person the site reaches, it ultimately helps even more by helping
those around them. Each person that visits the site becomes a spark of
hope, that people can sustain losses and survive.
Kirsti A. Dyer, MD, MS, FAAETS
Fellow, The American Academy of Experts in Traumatic
Journey of Hearts,
Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spiritual Sisters of the Internet Cafe, www.spiritualsisters.com,
is a place of spiritual rest and spiritual renewal, a place of spiritual
healing and spiritual celebration, for all, in a very real world in a very
real way--between friends. The site was created to enlighten, encourage,
educate and empower women in transitional life situations.
underestimate the energy of one person’s dream, or the light from one tiny
That tiny candle may
light the way out of someone’s darkness.