“Booing Death” testimonials

reading BD from the pulpit for audience
Photos by Jeff Rogers

me BD @ EBay w:book covers

In Booing Death, Pamela manages to find tender humor in this subject that is too often not even spoken about. It creates an opening that I find very refreshing. As a drama therapist and teacher of emerging therapists I have utilized several essays and poems from Booing Death to help students focus on the various issues included in grief. We have found that her way of ‘getting in the corners’ of those issues inspires embodied activities that are central to our healing art.
—Bobbi Kidder, MA, RDT/BCT 

In reading your book, Booing Death, I am reminded of my husband’s passing over eight years ago. When he died, I received at least twenty-five books about grief. They were either delivered to me at my door or mailed. Also there were recommended readings via phone or email. All from our dear friends. Yet, not a one spoke to me. I admit I didn’t feel an urge to pick one up. I am positive that if I’d received Booing Death eight years ago, I would have been curious,
drawn to open it.

I have found it necessary to consciously stop, put your writings aside, and be still. This is so I can have a moment to relish each experience you describe, each intimate poetic brilliancy you have willingly shared, with me—yes, your work is so very personal—and in part, a replica of my own story. I read your riveting awarenesses over and over, Ms. Sackett, for when I do, it appears as if I am reading a profound page all anew.

With gratitude beyond words, thank you.
—Rebecca Love, M.A.

… beautiful, gut wrenching and comforting all put together!
—Julie Daniels, actress, writer, M.F.A.

I keep reading Booing Death...an absolute postmodern classic!
—David Wilson, writer

—Pre-publication reader comments

An uncompromising work of absolute emotional authenticity.

It’s not a self-help book (thank goodness); it doesn’t offer solutions (what solutions are there?), but after reading it I felt neither depressed nor fearful. I felt uplifted in a quiet way; I’d been made more aware of connections to other people.

This book is incredible, a salve and a bridge, takes me places I need to go!

BD Ebay bk sign 4 RHS student
Post-performance book-signing
BD Ebay smiling clasped hands:backs o heads
Q & A @ Elliott Bay

Fall semester of 2013, Christina Roux, language arts teacher at Roosevelt High School in Seattle, decided to make Booing Death her honors credit “Book Seminar” course selection. Nineteen students finished the course which included the purchase and reading of the book, attending one of Pamela’s author events in Seattle, journaling, responding to the study guide for Booing Death and discussing the material together in the class that Pamela was invited to visit.

Here are a few student comments about Booing Death:

I decided to sign up for (the course) because (death) is a topic that is not very common in literature, especially when discussed so candidly and up front… and because of the death of my mom’s parents. It really affected our family and I was interested to hear other points of view on death.

…death is never really talked about in a relatable way but in Booing Death it was very understandable.

[I chose Booing Death] because I have had a family member pass away and I was curious how other people dealt with the same pain…because I have an interest in short stories and poems. I like to write them so I figured this would be a great opportunity to learn.

I found the cover of the book intriguing and I wanted to learn what it meant…I lost a friend last June and thought this book might give me more insight to the idea of death…so cleverly written…so relatable…this poem put all my thoughts into writing and made it easier to organize my ideas about this…the book really helped me…”Half Green” moved me quite a bit.

I didn’t really think much of this line when I first saw it but I re-read the poem…made me wonder why I didn’t get that clarity in my own life.

I found the poems “Encore”, “Fixed” and “What If” really opened up my emotions and made me realize what exactly I was feeling and thinking about after a grieving loss.

Before I thought death was a very strict and dangerous topic to talk about…I then realized because I was afraid of thinking about death is part of the reason why I feel that death is such a hard thing to overcome.

[“Where The Sun Won’t Shine”] was particularly significant to me because it made me think about life more than death.

…words described exactly how I have felt before…at the time, I was at a loss of words to explain but the author surely wraps up the right words to form a very well-said sentence…the author yet again explains how I (and she) feel perfectly…summed it up for me…evocative of my own life…led me to think in a new way about death, loss, grief and emotions/feelings…gave me a more peaceful image…gave me a different perspective.

…opened doors for me to understand grief…made me understand death on a deeper level…

No one in my life has died but I have experienced friends disappearing out of my life…

…each stanza was so different and so beautiful… (reference to “Almighty Cul-De-Sac”)

—student names withheld

Learn more about “Booing Death” here.

ELA’s Guiding Principles & Values

MAJOR MOON JUNE 23RDFirst Understand
Emotion Literacy Advocates’ primary motivation is to understand emotion—an often misunderstood aspect of the human condition. The ability to translate emotion affords us the opportunity to know feelings and their constellation of soft (non-physical) needs, memories and associations.

IMG_0058Full-Spectrum Feelings
All feelings are “friends,” helping us bloom in the growing knowledge of ourselves and each other. Feelings are like letters in the alphabet; each one is required to speak the language. We benefit by appreciating the capacity to feel, the awareness of feelings and the story they tell.


Words, thoughts, beliefs and expressions can lock or open a door; words do not tell the whole story; meaning lives between the lines. Given our need to connect and comprehend, it is essential to aim for congruency between feelings, needs, behavior and words.

Its All TrueMutual Inclusivity
Feelings and needs coexist within individuals and groups, albeit often worlds apart. Core feelings and needs are a truth worth discovering, no matter how diametrically opposed or seemingly nonsensical their expression.The ability to perceive and to hold contradictory elements allows understanding to deepen.


ELA Logo SlideFreedom
Emotion literacy advocates practice translating their own emotions and behavior, thereby earning the freedom to know feelings and recognize needs in progressively clearer ways.

Given the primary neural imperative—to survive—and given memories of past difficulties, patterns and fears, we are susceptible to constrained thinking and disavowed feelings which, when not recognized, can result in scapegoating, bullying, self-injury and other reflexive behaviors. If we are unable to immediately respond in accordance with our ideals, we can create a closer alignment, when resilient and privileged with a second chance.

We must accept vulnerability in order to learn. We must be strong to accept our vulnerability. Strong humans are aware of and embrace their vulnerability. To be vulnerable can mean receptivity to learning and the willingness to risk—fertile soil for universal connection, in the face of differences.


Emotion literacy advocacy aspires to transparency in the interest of self-knowledge, genuine community and insightful stewardship of the natural world. When being ourselves in a social setting poses a threat, it is difficult to uphold the value of authenticity and imperative that one upholds it, if only to and for oneself. Loving groups and wise, loving actions begin with self-loving individuals.

  • Blog photos by  Rebecca Love: flower, tree bark w/feet; “It’s All True” painting (mother with child in two worlds) by Nathan Gregory in collaboration with ELA. (Also available in the ELA T-shirt store.)

✒ “Feeling-favoritism” & “Feeling-equity”

It makes familiar andbig rocks in water089 practical sense to put happiness above all other feelings, especially sadness and grief. It is our cultural practice, as humans, to prefer happiness since the interactions and events that prompt happiness are highly desirable and the interactions and events that prompt sadness and grief are, naturally, not. Regarding a feeling as inextricably linked with the event that prompted it–and attempting to repeat or avoid that type of event and the feeling associated with it–makes familiar and practical sense.

Difficult as drawing this distinction can be–especially in traumatic situations–it is the capacity to be open to feelings, the capacity to be with and have all feelings, the capacity to understand their context and the capacity to empathize with ourselves and others that grants us resiliency and creative access to, and say in, the rich meaning, movement and direction of our daily lives.

Though it is important to be pro-active in life and optimistic, and to reach for the experiences we easily favor, our lives ebb and flow with events, circumstances and relationships that are often outside our control, prompting a wide and often unpredictable range of feelings.

Even within a world of uncertainty and potential danger, it is within our influence and control to permit ourselves to sustain and stretch our capacity to feel, to house all of our feelings (lest they go homeless), to seek to understand, accept and embrace feelings, as we would a child in need of comfort and celebration. Given the inevitability of life’s ups and downs–and, clearly, we definitely favor one kind of circumstance over another–this kind of open-ended, equitable relationship with feelings takes courage, clarity and practice with profound benefits to be had.

Feelings are like a river, constantly flowing within. Just think of the amount of time, energy, expense and potential loss, whenever you endeavor to impede that river’s flow. ELA encourages a robust swim on a moment-by-moment basis with every wave. Feeling equity provides buoyancy in the swim and the perceptual opportunity to distinguish the capacity to feel from the occurrence of an unwanted feeling-prompting circumstance.

Like life’s ups and downs, the shape of the river’s waves and the rate of their flow influences the nature of our swim and those waves and their pace don’t have to be the final arbiter on whether or not we stay in the water.

“What is true is already so. Owning up to it doesn’t make it worse. Not being open about it doesn’t make it go away. And because it’s true, it is what is there to be interacted with. Anything untrue isn’t there to be lived. People can stand what is true, for they are already enduring it.”
—Eugene Gendlin

Please respond to this blog post with a life experience for which you decided or were invited to expand your capacity to feel…what were the benefits and challenges?

Q: Do you have something against happy birthdays?

Frames limit & shape what fits inside.

(The question above was posed to Pamela Sackett by a Franklin High School student during the special program described below. This excerpt  is from ELA’s “Full Spectrum Birthday Song” study guide.)*

I visited a high school class, as a guest artist, after the students had listened to The Full Spectrum Birthday Song in honor of a classmate and as a catalyst for learning. The teacher invited me to discuss the song and answer questions. One of the boys in the class wanted to know if I had something against people being happy on their birthdays. Initially, I was surprised by his question and then I quickly realized that the song invites an unfamiliar change in orientation to birthdays from “happy” (a traditional approach) to “full-spectrum” (a new and different approach). ‘Happy’ gets most, if not all, the “good press” so it holds a pretty exclusive place. I let the boy and the class know that, in creating this song, I intended to:

• leave no feeling by the wayside;
• make a festive show of mutual inclusivity for all feelings;
• inspire our human culture to consider “happy” to be one part of a full spectrum of feelings.

Feelings are like letters in the alphabet—are there any you could do without? Like letters, every feeling has its special place and when you add them together, their meaning multiplies. Though it is difficult sometimes to recognize and express some of our feelings, all feelings have a story to tell. It is up to us to discover it. With kind guidance, patience and courage, feelings can be quite enlightening indeed.

*Additional facets on this perspective can be found in the next blog entry: “What is feeling favoritism and feeling equity?”

More about “Ask ELA,” The Blog

Dale Klein's vintage typewriter
Image by Dale J. Klein

The “Ask ELA” Blog facilitates active outreach and a fluid platform for sustaining and generating new narrative and public dialogue to advocate for emotion literacy.

In “Q & A ELA”–one of our blog categories–we invite your questions and will answer as many genuine requests for perspectives as we can and apologize, in advance, if we are unable to address them all.

Some questions have arisen through our direct engagement with “emotion literacy explorers” who have experienced ELA programs. We invite you to explore our educational materials and programs.

Much of what you will find here in the “Ask ELA,” blog is driven by an intent to untangle habitual ways of thinking–with which we all wrestle–and to weave new communicative ways.

In ELA-land, narrative is key and feeling-inquisitive narrative sheds light, opens perceptual doors, feeds freedom to revise our thinking for insight, growth and authentic connections.

We use the epistemological approach to social-cultural-emotionally-charged human communication systems by considering a train of thought’s sources, methods and limitations.

Stretch your EL advocacy muscle every which way… explore the “Ask ELA” Blog today! Send your “Q & A ELA” questions via our contact page. We invite you to share your responses to any of our blog posts. We thank you for participating in Emotion Literacy Advocates’ multi-directional learning forum!

Emotion Literacy Advocates™ Active in Educational Street Fair

On August 11, 2007, ELA participated in the Sixth Annual Educational Resource Street Fair, sponsored by Casey Family Programs, Qwest and Peoples Institutional Baptist Church. Casey Family Programs invited ELA to participate by offering us a complimentary table.

Thanks to generous sponsorship, we offered forty-five Full Spectrum Birthday Song CDs, as gifts, to children, families and for raffle ticket prizes. A couple adults who visited the ELA table were very excited to receive this learning tool for use at their day care centers. ELA’s participation with fair attendees bridged forty-five song CDs into the ears of hundreds. We also gave away approximately one hundred “Five Ways To Think Favorably About Feelings” brochures.

One of the greatest benefits of being a part of the fair was having the opportunity to engage with hundreds of children who came to our table, with varying degrees of curiosity. Each child who comes to the fair must first register at the welcome table. They are then given a passport and are told that once they receive “stamps,” from the information tables, they can cash the passport in for free school supplies.

Children at the fair are generally in a hurry to collect those passport stamps but we devised a method by which children could receive something in addition to stamps and ELA brochures. We were glad to see several children approach our table and engage in a learning process by first letting them know that our table gave out stamps and food for thought. We pointed to our table sign:

Name a feeling, describe it and get a stamp!

Some children scratched their heads and pondered. Had they been asked this question before? Had a stranger behind a table ever asked them such a question at a fair? One adult looked at our sign and said: “Hmmmm…that’s different!” These kinds of responses let us know that we were tossing something unique into the mix.

A curious street fair participant

Many of the responses proclaimed “Happy!” The irony here is that we are offering a musical learning tool, entitled: The Full Spectrum Birthday Song (or Why Just Happy?). We like “happy” as much as the next guy and we want to inspire the warm embrace of all feelings.

Easier said than done—and even less easy to talk about.

One boy said “mad” and that he would handle it by discussing it with friends. His young companion chimed in to name the same feeling and same method for handling it: His friend retorted: “No you don’t (discuss your anger with friends)—when you’re angry, you wanna burn up the whole world!”

Another boy read the sign and adamantly backed away from the table proclaiming: “No, no I can’t do that. I won’t do that. I can’t do that.”

When we gently inquired as to why he couldn’t name a feeling and describe it, he blurted out: “Because I don’t trust people.” We commended the boy for so clearly expressing the reason for his trepidation, that, unfortunately, some people don’t inspire or earn our trust, and offered him a brochure and birthday song CD, both of which he took.

May I have a stamp?

One child said: “angry” and when asked to describe what he does when he’s angry, he simply said: “I go to sleep.” Several children said that when they’re angry, they go to their rooms. They said they got angry for being blamed for something they didn’t do or for having something taken from them.

Several children said: “sad.” We commended those who said they cry when they’re sad, for so congruently expressing an emotion tied directly to a feeling. We also commended those who said that when they are happy, they play…another point of congruency.

An eight-year old boy said that when he’s sad or mad, he notices memories coming up. We appreciated his ability to track a thinking process as opposed to simply reacting to a feeling and for that, we offered encouragement and a CD.

Thank you!

One of the important distinctions we make in our teachings is the difference between a circumstance and a feeling. Given that feelings arise, in part, out of a perception of a circumstance, not the circumstance itself, it is important to clarify one’s perception of circumstances, while also exercising the ability to comprehend and express relevant feelings.

Another essential distinction en route to knowing and accepting feelings is to understand the nature of a feeling and how it is connected to a “soft” need like the need for acceptance, understanding and nurturance. Feelings often alert us to a soft need and can, if translated accurately, assist us with gathering up the impetus to fulfill the need.

After noticing our sign, one of the adults who visited our table exclaimed: “With these three (children) I either become emotionally intelligent or lose my mind.”

Umm... happy?
Umm… happy?

Another adult offered to name “frustration.” Her reason being: “coming home to a house, after a long day of work, to find that nothing has changed.” She went on to explain that she doesn’t choose to blame her children for her frustration, that they are innocent and that it is up to her to deal with her own frustration in a direct and responsible way.

ELA’s participation at the Sixth Annual Educational Resource Street Fair was a grand success! Casey Family Programs has invited ELA back for next year, and perhaps to undertake a more active partnership role.