Transcending Taboos in Grief: online presentation in April 2021

While sadness is readily sanctioned in bereavement, other less comfortable emotions such as anger, regret, relief, guilt, joy, and desire are frequently considered taboos by those facing loss.  Because research shows that a much larger pallet of feelings is common in those who are grieving, this module uses writing techniques to enlarge the space for the expression of “unwelcome” thoughts and feelings.  A desire for “identity maintenance” is often at the heart of not admitting to a more complex set of authentic responses to loss.  In addition to making it safe for clients to express relief and joy, the techniques learners will learn in this module will challenge three common taboos in bereavement: acknowledgement of secondary losses (e.g., becoming estranged from common friends; losing a joint home), unfinished business with the deceased (e.g., unresolved regrets and conflicts), and ongoing sexual desire following partner/spousal loss.  Learners will practice creative writing exercises that work with each of these impediments to growth through grief and learn how a range of taboo feelings are adaptive in their own way, even if they depart from common cultural scripts for “appropriate mourning.”  In working with one’s own ‘taboo material,’ learners will learn how to open space for clients to do the same, ultimately accommodating a wider range of lived experience in grief, as part and parcel of true resilience.