Using Dramatherapy and Mindfulness to Cope with Grief

By Grace Schuchner

Posted: April 4, 2017

Finding a Place of Comfort to Grieve 

This article explores the use of dramatherapy practice and mindfulness for the grief process.

What is Dramatherapy?

I will use Dr. Sue Jennings’ definition for the purpose of this article. Dr. Jennings has defined Dramatherapy as “the specific application of theatre structures and drama processes with a declared intention that it is therapy.”

My Brief Personal Story

My mother passed away on October 19th, 2015. I am a single mother to a nine year old daughter.

When my mother died, it was very painful for both of us. In Buenos Aires it is the beginning of the summer, and from December until March my daughter was on holiday. As a little girl she went through the “impermanence” and change of thoughts and emotions in a natural way.

So, what about me?

I realized that I needed time and space to connect with my grief. I started to feel in a profound way that I needed to honor myself as a person who is mourning and to honor my love to my mother as well. As Anne Brener wrote in Mourning & Mitzvah “it is hard to work though one´s grief when there are so many cover-ups and so many different kinds of denial at work within the culture.” So, first I searched for mindfulness and grief on the web, and I found Heather Stang´s book, Mindfulness & Grief. I bought the book and I invited a friend of mine to go through the 8 week process together. It was—and is still—very helpful. (Thank you, Heather.)

My Journey with Dramatherapy 

And for the purpose of a Dramatherapy and Grief chapter, I wrote for the Dramatherapy: Theory and Practice book in Spanish, that I am editing together with Domingo Ferrandis. Then, I decided that I wanted to experience Dramatherapy for myself in my grief process. I asked Doug Ronning, a Dramatherapist from San Francisco who works with grief, to be my guide and my witness during my therapeutic process.

I would like to share with you the beginning of my healing journey and invite you to try if you feel that it could help you.  I will suggest the practice and share my own experience with you. Also, something important to know is that in Dramatherapy we use the imagination and “metaphor language.”

Want to try?

The first step of the journey is to set the intention and to identify and create an image of a place of comfort.  You will need to have a pencil or pen and a piece of paper handy.

In Dramatherapy, we use the imagination and “metaphor language.”

Exercise 1:

  • Find a comfortable position and close your eyes, allow your body to become still, bring your attention to the fact that you are breathing.
  • When you are ready, bring your awareness to your heart. If you want, you can gently place your hands over your heart.
  • Set your intention. My Intention is: “To give myself the time and space to connect with my grief.”
  • Continue with your eyes closed and when you take your next breath, start to imagine “Your place of comfort.”
  • When you have a clear image and you are ready, open your eyes. For example, my place of comfort is “The grief tunnel.”

Exercise 2:

  • Paint or draw your place of comfort.

Exercise 3:

  • Look at the painting or drawing you have made. If the image could speak to you, what would it tell you?

Exercise 4:

  • Write it down.

My Grief Tunnel, the image that came to me in Exercise 1, and that I drew in Exercise 2, brought to mind—in other words, it spoke to me about in Exercise 3—this poem by Mario Benedetti:


It occurs to me that you’ll arrive differently
not exactly cuter
nor stronger, more docile
or more cautious,
it’s just that you’ll arrive differently

Exercise 5: (Optional)

  • You can imagine a voice for the text or not, and say it aloud to yourself, or share it with someone.

Grace Schuchner

About the author

Grace Schuchner lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is an actress and Dramatherapist Certified by the Tel - Hai Academic College in Galilee, Israel. She has a degree in Psychology and a postgraduate degree in Systemic Family Therapy. She trained in the practice of Mindfulness for psychotherapists.

Grace has been teaching since 2006 Drama therapy at the EDRAS University in Chile, and pioneered the inclusion of Dramatherapy in Argentina. She was invited as the only contributor from South America to write a chapter in Routledge International Handbook of Dramatherapy published in the year 2016.

Its therapeutic and teaching mode of Dramatherapy is with the inclusion of contemplative practice and the cultivation of compassion.

Along with Domingo Ferrandis, Grace is editing the book Dramatherapy: Theory and Practice that will be published in Buenos Aires in April 2017. Her chapter in the book is titled: Dramatherapy and Grief Reflex.

At age forty-four she was awarded the maternity prize—she gave birth to her daughter Shira.

You might also like

Get compassionate live online grief support with author Heather Stang

Meditation | Journaling | Self-care | Sharing