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Transcending Taboos: Re-writing the Self in Grief

Transcending Taboos: Re-writing the Self in Grief

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Earn 1 Credit for Practicum Module toward
Certification in Grief Therapy as Meaning Reconstruction
or Certification in Art-Assisted Grief Therapy
Offered by the Portland Institute.

Presented by

Reinekke Lengelle, PhD

Assistant Professor

Interdisciplinary Studies with the 

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Athabasca University

USD$99 for 3-hour module

While sadness is readily sanctioned in bereavement, other less comfortable emotions such as anger, regret, relief, guilt, joy, and desire are frequently considered taboos by those facing loss.  Because research shows that a much larger pallet of feelings is common in those who are grieving, this module uses writing techniques to enlarge the space for the expression of “unwelcome” thoughts and feelings.  A desire for “identity maintenance” is often at the heart of not admitting to a more complex set of authentic responses to loss.  In addition to making it safe for clients to express relief and joy, the techniques learners will learn in this module will challenge three common taboos in bereavement: acknowledgement of secondary losses (e.g., becoming estranged from common friends; losing a joint home), unfinished business with the deceased (e.g., unresolved regrets and conflicts), and ongoing sexual desire following partner/spousal loss.  Learners will practice creative writing exercises that work with each of these impediments to growth through grief and learn how a range of taboo feelings are adaptive in their own way, even if they depart from common cultural scripts for “appropriate mourning.”  In working with one’s own ‘taboo material,’ learners will learn how to open space for clients to do the same, ultimately accommodating a wider range of lived experience in grief, as part and parcel of true resilience. 


  • Facilitate clients’ use of Dialogues of Healing to transform taboos, promote validation of secondary losses and resolve unfinished business;

  • Discover the adaptive function of sadness, anger, and joy in grief and the role of negative emotion in promoting resilience; and

  • Practice inquiry-based writing exercises that challenge constraining assumptions about one’s personal identity as a grieving person.

Note:  Completion of this program and return of the Responsive Journal satisfies 1 Practicum Module required for Certification in Grief Therapy as Meaning Reconstruction or Certification in Art-Assisted Grief Therapy.


This program contains the following video segments:

  1. Writing the Unsayable:  Proprioceptive Writing (30 mins)
  2. Unfinished Business in Bereavement:  Incomplete Sentences (36 mins)

  3. Acknowledging the Inescapable:  A Poetic Practice (34 mins)

  4. Identity Maintenance:  Writing for Freedom (34 mins)



Presenting Faculty

Reinekke Lengelle, PhD is Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Athabasca University in Canada.  She is a researcher in the area of narrative career development, writing for personal development, and writing the self in bereavement.  She has been teaching and developing this type of writing for 24 years and is also a researcher with The Hague University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands.  Lengelle began her career as a playwright, poet, author of non-fiction, and ran a small publishing house called Black Tulip Press.  Her book Writing the Self in Bereavement: A Story of Love, Spousal Loss, and Resilience (Routledge, 2021) has been acknowledged with the Best Book award for ethnography: the H. L. “Bud” Goodall, Jr. / Nick Trujillo “It’s a Way of Life” Award is for work that exemplifies story-telling excellence informed by scholarship and is written for both scholarly and public audiences.

Link to the book:

Reinekke Lengelle, PhD

Photo - Reinekke Lengelle 1.png

USD$99 for 3-hour module

For other enquiries, simply email Carolyn.

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