Friday, February 6, 2015

#CBR7 Review #08: The Art of Grief by J. Earl Rogers

I come to read a book on with grief through creative arts therapies at a time wherein I face the impending death of a family member. And I am restless. Being a fidgety person to begin with, I can’t keep my hands still when my mind is full of all kinds of thoughts: preparing for courses in school, learning about grief for an upcoming class, dealing with loss and grief myself, and all other kinds of things. And so I draw. My hands take what I am feeling and put a part of me on a page. And I am not entirely okay, but I also don’t feel like I’m drowning like I have felt all too much recently for far too many reasons. But enough about me…

The Art of Grief: The Use of Expressive Arts in a Grief Support Group is predominantly set up as a guide to running bereavement support groups that utilize the expressive arts as a process of healing and working through grief. Different practitioners with a variety of creative and therapeutic backgrounds contribute ideas and sessions that are set up as a guide for running an 8-session group. Practical matters of materials and working with a few different populations (ie, adapting for children or teens) are discussed, as well as the manner in which these approaches may be helpful for those experiencing loss. I can see myself how some of these sessions would be helpful for me in processing grief, but I can also see how some might not work as well for myself. But that’s how it goes with anyone: some people are more receptive and open up better to different mediums than others. Musicians may write songs. Artists may paint. Dancers may move. All are expressions and therefore, extensions of the self. Or so I believe. 

But along with the practical matters and ideas for art therapists and counsellors to use in running groups, a number of personal stories and experiences are also shared in how the creative arts have assisted those dealing with losses, terminal illness, etc. Those personal stories are a great touch to staunch what might become an overly impersonal setup of “here’s a plan of what to do”. But overall I would say that this is more of a book for those who are studying and interested in setting up some sort of bereavement support group, than anything else.

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