Background The Art and Music Therapists at St Christopher’s hospice offer closed, seven week Creative Bereavement Groups for six attendees, all of whom are experiencing complex grief, exacerbated due to the pandemic. Attendees have undertaken twelve weeks of one-to-one specialist bereavement counselling and are referred to the group because they feel stuck or overwhelmed and need more support.
Aim To enable participants to access their intuitive inner wisdom through creative process, so they may experience and consequently bear their grief in new ways.
Method Within a safe, confidential, therapeutic space, a structure of weekly themes around death, dying and loss is offered. Drawing upon elements of myth and ritual, individual art-making and musical improvisation, participants are invited to inhabit the embodied landscape of their sorrow and express their grief through experiment with both art and music. For example, listening in to the sound of their pain, participants recently made individual drums with which to lament the loss of their loved ones, in community. Others have created sculptures from driftwood and stone, in metaphorical exploration of the heaviness that has set them adrift from life as they had once known it. Participants are offered the opportunity to verbally share as little or as much as they feel might be helpful to them. They are witnessed wherever they find themselves in the spiral of grief. The psychotherapists work with the group dynamics to facilitate the experience, honouring both the uniquely held experiences of individual grief and the collective, existential pain of loss that unites us in our humanity.
Results Qualitative post-group questionnaires indicate very positive results.
Conclusion A creative bereavement group, which combines art and music therapy, is a compassionate and effective way to bear witness and help those experiencing complex and challenging grief, when one-to-one therapy is not enough.
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