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Writing Through Grief Workshop Starts Next Week

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Freelance writer and instructor Debbie Leaman is offering another six-week expressive writing workshop that she started teaching four years ago… shortly after she lost her brother due to a biking accident.

The Writing Through Grief workshop will be held every Wednesday afternoon starting February 26 and running through April 1st Debbie Leaman is leading the course and says it’s open to everyone – regardless of your writing experience.

“All writing levels are welcome and it’s not high school English. This is what we call an expressive writing workshop, where it’s more like, stream of consciousness,” Leaman explained. “So, we do some short readings and I provide what I call on-ramps - or writing prompts – I ask questions to really unlock some memories and to kind of evoke some feelings and then participants write. We share the work, but sharing is completely optional. I have people who will just take the six week course and not want to share anything. Most people do, but you do not have to do that, if you don’t’ feel comfortable.”

The writing workshop will be held at the offices of Jewish Family Service in Prospector between 1:30 and 3:30.  Leaman can take up to 9 participants. Registration is open through Friday. The cost is $150 – however scholarships are available for those who need financial assistance.

She says this is not group therapy – it is an expressive writing course. Writing is a therapeutic tool she says that can help you on the path to healing…

“The benefits of writing are incredible actually, because what happens writing helps give words to the complicated emotions that are swirling around in our head,” Leaman said. “And actually, the act of writing really gets all of these jumbled feelings on to the page, out of our head, which provides some distance and some perspective. Once you start writing, many, many participants, including myself, because I’ve been writing for my whole life pretty much, you feel lighter. You actually feel like you’ve unloaded all of these heavy emotions that really have nowhere to go. But once you put them on the page, they‘re outside of you and it’s a tremendous help.”

Leaman lost her brother in a bicycle accident several years ago. She says she learned about the therapeutic benefits writing can have on grief and loss.

“And I wrote pages and pages and a lot of various emotions came out  and these are the emotions that we tackle in the 6-week program,” Leaman explained. “Because under the umbrella of grief, you have regret and remorse, and  anger and even under anger - if you start teasing apart anger, you realize anger is a combination of fear and hopelessness and sadness. And actually, through the writing you can kind of tease this all out and it just clarifies what’s going on.”

Grief she notes isn’t just the loss of someone – it can be divorce, illness, or the loss of a pet. She has even had people in the course over the years who have grieved for the environment – or grief they’ve buried for years.

“Sometimes, our society basically says there’s a prescribed length or of how long we should be grieving, there’s this notion, that it’s a year – OK – you should get over it,” she said. “Or I can’t believe you’re mourning the loss of you dog and people have some shame attached to that.  So, this course, actually helps people express something they’ve buried deep inside and it’s very  - writing is a therapeutic tool to help get to that.”

Workshop organizer Debbie Leaman. The deadline to register is Friday. Contact Liz Anderson at Jewish Family Service at 801-746-4334. 

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