Moving Through Loss - An Expressive Arts Journey
Moving Through Loss
is a program of unusual depth and boldness
What is Moving Through Loss?
Performed at Northlight Gallery at Arizona State University (featured imagery by Tomiko Jones).
Moving Through Loss is a vibrant program that helps people process loss in a supportive, creative and healthy way. It connects participants to resilience, community and joy.
Moving Through Loss invites the intense energy of loss to take expressive form through gesture, shape and voice. Using techniques from Somatic Experiencing ™, dance, theater, improvisation and ritual, this work re-invigorates what we have instinctively understood for a long time; namely that physical expression within community offers health and healing outcomes no pill or talk therapy alone can provide.
Moving Through Loss brings people home to their bodies through creative expression where:
story is embedded in gesture
feelings are explored through shape
line drawings visually map the course of loss
ritual brings community together
Moving Through Loss - An Expressive Arts Journey
This workshop is available in a 1/2 day format or a 1, 2, or 3 day format. All options can be customized to meet your group's needs.
Who Experiences Grief & Loss?
The Moving Through Loss program is needed now more than ever
It is known that many struggled during this pandemic. It was isolating and painful. Many faced loss and trauma, and for some, this continues. Others wrestled with mental health. Additionally, there were charged issues around race and gender that continue to have influence. Loss and trauma have become a lingering by-product of the pandemic. For many, this has been overwhelming.
What is the Benefit of a Somatic Approach?
When we feel loss, trauma or psychological pain of any kind it is experienced in the body as well as the psyche. An approach to processing pain that includes the body, offers the individual a deep sense of wholeness and integration.
When we experience loss or trauma, the nervous system often becomes overwhelmed; feeling like too much has happened, too fast and too soon. It’s thrown into a state of dysregulation. Disturbing images associated with painful experiences can also throw us into a state of dysregulation. Moving Through Loss helps participants reclaim a sense of equilibrium and balance as they increase awareness of the body and its relationship to the mind.
Photograph by Patrick McDowell
If we go underneath the overwhelming emotions and touch into physical sensations, something quite profound occurs in our organism – there is a sense of flow, of “coming home.” - Peter Levine
Some of the benefits of creative body-based expression:
Improve self-concept and self-esteem
Develops positive body image
Reduce stress, anxiety, and depression
Decreases isolation, chronic pain, and body tension
Increases communication skills
Encourages a sense of well-being
The body becomes a source of wisdom
Black and white photograph by Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Why Include Arts?
Creativity taps subconscious symbolism and imagery. Creativity helps people express themselves without having to use words - tapping modes of expression that exist outside conscious thought. In the same way art can illuminate feelings and ideas, it can also be a bridge back into feeling grounded and safe in one’s body.
Why a Group Workshop?
Why a Community?
This new workshop Moving Through Loss offers a community-oriented way to reflect, recover and process the unusual events of this pandemic.
People need connection!
When people are supported and feel a sense of belonging, they thrive.
There is a collective hunger for ways to process this most universal experience of loss! The sense of isolation that often accompanies difficult emotions, is softened and supported when we’re with similarly empathic people. Shared experience has a power of its own.
Who is Moving Through Loss for?
For anyone who has experienced loss or trauma of any type – whether recently or long ago
Those interested in the therapeutic use of expressive somatic arts
Artists interested in developing new material
About Dr. Susan Bendix & How Moving Through Loss Got Started
“Trauma is not what happens to us, but what we hold inside in the absence of an empathetic witness.”
- Peter A. Levine
How Moving Through Loss Got Started
I was abruptly widowed and left with a very young child. Everything felt surreal. I was being called daily by the mortuary asking what was to be done with the body. Friends were asking what they could do to help. I had no idea how to deal with any of it. I was totally broke. Family was far away. The nature of the death was controversial bringing an added layer of drama. I was in shock.
"I remember sitting in a grief support circle in a generic room with yards of fluorescent lights overhead. I was not at all comfortable. I didn’t speak." - Dr. Susan Bendix
But when I went to pick up my daughter in the children’s grief group, they were moving around, drawing, writing, gluing this and that. I remember feeling so much better in that room with wounded grieving children than in my own group of wounded grieving adults.
This was basically the springboard for Moving Through Loss. I’ve had a professional career as a dancer, choreographer and improvisational artist. The world of creative expression has profound power as a way to explore difficult feelings. Grief groups and talking can be tremendously valuable. But as a movement artist, processing grief from an embodied expressive perspective made much more sense. Movement is my language.
I developed my program over several years. It incorporates dance, theater, improvisation and ritual. Though Moving Through Loss is innovative and progressive, it is not new. The therapeutic nature of movement, voice and ritual have been instinctively understood for a very long time. Physical expression within community offers health and healing outcomes no pill or talk therapy alone can provide.
While developing Moving Through Loss, I became a certified Somatic Experience ™ Practitioner – which is a psycho-therapeutic approach to trauma as it is experienced in the body. This knowledge greatly enhanced my work.
I’ve presented this workshop to adolescents and adults. People are hungry for this expressive approach to this very universal experience of loss. There is so much loss right now – a seemingly endless supply. Moving Through Loss is powerful in helping people through the difficult journey of loss. It offers healing within a supportive community.
For dance artists and choreographers, it offers a new way to generate choreographic material. For theater artists it offers a way to develop embodied monologues and scenes. For non-dance and non-theater people, it offers an exploration into creative expression and way to be more fully human!
Photograph by Patrick McDowell.
The wound is the place where light enters you. - Rumi