To help people work through grief, a series of workshops are being held in Salt Lake City by Art Access, an organization that sponsors and supports art programs that build community. They believe creativity can increase as people age and started a creative aging project last year.
“A big part of aging was grieving," Elise Butterfield said. "And grieving various losses of individuals, of abilities of a job, of a type of life that is no longer available," said Elise Butterfield, program director for Art Access who helped organize these workshops.
There are two different workshops that help address grieving. The first will be about using writing to process grief with Debbie Leaman. The second is with John Sebba. He works with veterans processing different aspects of grief.
“In our culture, it’s considered that there just isn’t really time for grieving," Butterfield said. "And there just isn’t really space for it. There aren’t a lot of designated ways that we communally talk about or experience grief together.”
In leading the workshops, Leaman has found that writing helps individuals open up, to experience different emotions and perspectives.
“When we share our work people are bearing witness to your feelings of suffering," Leaman said. "And, we all realize that there’s this shared humanity. And that while everybody's situation is unique we find that yes, in our grieving we’re all experiencing feelings of anger, guilt, regret. And it really helps with the healing process to realize that we are not alone.”
Leaman enjoys the growth she has seen of individuals in the workshops as they open up. While she isn’t a therapist, she believes that writing in a community setting is a useful way to process grief. The next event called "Introduction to Poetry and Writing Through Grief Public Reading" will be on November 18th at Art Access in downtown Salt Lake City. The event will allow previous workshop attendees to read poetry and writing from the workshop.