Date of Award

Spring 5-19-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Tomoyo Kawano


Grieving is universal and grief is unique to the individual experiencing it. Over time, societal shifts have turned the author’s experience of grief in modern, western society to something that is to be experienced in private and on a timeline. Once accepted as a shared human experience, grief became pathologized, and societal support diminished. Art and the creative process have prevailed through time as, among other things, a space in which to explore difficult emotions and the duality of light and dark; concepts commonly associated with grief as well. While research on grief and research on the expressive therapies exist, the intersection of the two is sparse. As such, an exploration of using an experience with the creative process to initiate personal grief narratives was undertaken, utilizing the social community of the author’s own family, with participants instructed to use art materials to tell a story about someone in their life who has died. Intentions were to collect more information about how grief is unique, both in service of contributing to the fields of grief studies and expressive therapies, as well as being able to reflect the experience back to the participants through response art, in service of a greater understanding of art therapy. Society has shifted grieving to a private experience, and as art can be a safer space that the verbal realm alone to explore and process difficult feelings and emotions, an experience with the creative process may serve as an entry point into personal grief narratives.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.




The author owns the copyright to this work.