Expressions of Grief and Bereavement
Cancer Center 503413-8404
Expressive Therapy oftenreferred as a multi-modal multi-arts
Arts is to or
therapeutic modality to the utilization manycreative
due of means expression
suchas visualarts,movement writing,
arts, drama, and music. Various
organizations individuals displaying
and are deepinterest utilizing
expressive as a healing
arts modality informational for groupand
individualtherapeutic support.Thiswidespread interest beenshownby
teachers, socialworkers, occupational
therapists, community outreach program
leaders, psychologists, medical
and personal, namea few. Suchgrowing
interestis an indication the effectiveness creative
of of intervention providing
an avenue withwhichindividuals ableto communicate innermostself.
Junge(1985), Mclntyre (1990), Simon
showmanybereaved individualsrespond favorably oftenmore
the creative therapies
arts thanwithtraditionalverbalinterventions. Using
in encourages expression one's
thoughts and feelingswhena lovedone dies. Examples creative
" Aft Making: expression
art aids in reflection feelings
experiences shared withthe deceased helpsbringclarity
one'sunique grieving process.
* Useof Symbols Analogr'es:
and encourages mourner share
tapes,articles clothing, significant
of and objects
belonging the deceased encourages bereaved explore
to and the to
personalsymbols images healing.
* Witing:writinglettersto the deceased of
and regarding possible
the and the deceased.
* Commemoration: pictures,
creating bookof stories,
memorabilia, and helpsthe bereaved reminisce
mourn deathwitha morerealistic
the imageof the
ritualscan helpeasethe painthroughengaging
an outwardexpression memorializing loved-one
of the and
promoteshealing throughcreating sacredact of expressing
Johnson(1987)explains the practice art makingas an aid to the
healingprocess not a newconcept."Humankind havedeveloped to
is may art
eviateor containfeelings anxietylear,crisis,
of , (Johnson1987 p.
andthreat" , ,
7). Dissanayake (1988) supports opinion,
stating art making marksthe
importance eventssuchas death,
of through creation visualimagery.
(1985, 7) offers anthropological of whycreative
an view is
exploredduringtheseprofound points life:
the explanation,is clearthatart
somehow helpshuman beingscopewiththe trauma of
death. Beauty and art formshavebeenpartof funeral
ceremonies sinceNeanderthal times.Thisuniversal
human problem meteverywhere symbolic
solutions satisfy mindand aesthetic
to the solutionsto
release emotions 106-107).
Simon(1981 p. 7) suggests artistic
, that expression the bereaved
representseffortsof workingthrough conflict
and usually occursin threestages:
stageone-expression the conflict,
of allowing greaterconscious awareness the
withinthe stress;stagefwe-the artisticimageenables suffering
expressed stageoneto findcontainment
in whileit is converted mourning;
Hill describes benefits groupart therapy the bereaved the
the of for in
" Hastens GriefProcess Promotes
the and Coping Skills-lna
containment art freescreativeenergynecessary dealwith
" Remember Commemorate Deceased-Creativity
and the in art
therapy also"leadto remembering, experiencing rage
can to the
and the loss,andto regaining pastin all itswarmth
the and its
of andto getting knowoneself
andothers" (Fleming, p
* Creation Healing
of Rituals-According (1987),
to Johnson "Art
developed a meansof expression andrelieffrom
Art, and dancein primitive
timesweremotivated a needfor catharsis gaining
by and control
overthreats the community" 8)
* Helpsto Organize Regain
(1985) explains the ovenryhelming
that feelings thoughts
resulting froma lovedone'sdeathcan be contained within
symbolism. container artistic
The of symbolism presents senseof
controland organization,whichallowsgreater productivity daily
life and resolution the griefprocess.
of images promote
discussions maynot havebeenacknowledged
expression through releases
art emotions grief,
of allowsthe healingprocess begin(Furth,
1988; Rubin, 1987',lrwin,
* Encourages Awareness-"The
Self pro@ssof making allowsfor
self-awareness the artworks safeoutlets individuals
and are for to
expresstheirgriefat theirownrate,withthe emphasis
* FinalProduct Permanence-Persons
and in griefcan lookat
finished overtimeand continue gaininsight
artwork to fromthe
work. Theycan engage withthe images,increasing self
understanding a pacethatis appropriate them.
lmplementing creative therapies substantially
arts can increasethe
beneflts groupsupport.According Aldridge
of to (1993) andMalchiodi(1991)
creativetherapiesoffermodalities well-suited the needsof
Thisis in partdueto the difficulty fullyexpressing through
of grief wordsalone.
Art therapyoffersa multimodal non-verbalmeanswithwhichto discover new
in withloss(Grant, 1995;Graves, p
Hospice programs beginning implement
are to moreart therapy their
bereavement groupsessions. (1990),
Mclntyre reports the goalsof group
art therapyservestwo purposes; provide
socialsanction the expression
grief,and to promote mourning
Schimmel Kornreich (1993)suggest, "Thesharing artwork
augments deepens connections
and the madeduringnormal verbal
art therapist, the art process
and helpthe participant
loneliness connection empowerment; denialto acceptance; loss
to and from from
and anxiety relief; fromdespair hope"(p 10)
of control to and to
Schimmel Kornreich (1993) discuss art therapy
groupfor thosewidowed lessthanone year. The groupincluded weekly
sessions lastingfor the periodof one yearand was looselystructured after
Kubler-Ross's (1969) stages griefandacceptance death,
five of of andYalom
andVinogradov's (1988) bereavement work. "Thegoalsof the groupwereto
the experiences the groupmembers
members couldhelponeanother, howtheymightgainrelief
continue withtheirlives, andgrowemotionally'' 10). The participants
presented with art therapydirectives,helping facilitate expression their
to the of
experiences. Results showed the artistic
that processbrought the participants
recognition thoughts feelings, an alleviation sorrow 10)
of and and of (p
D. Hope,meaning the creative therapies the
and arts in
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