Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

MS in Dance/Movement Therapy

First Advisor

Elise Risher


Grief has always been part of the human experience and stands “at the intersection of attachment and separation, of love and loss.” This paper examines the history of grief within psychiatric and psychological frameworks to uncover how we have come to understand and process the nature of grief and how we can incorporate body-based interventions into the grieving experience. The role of the body remains at the heart of the grieving process; however, this has been overlooked in the literature (Fuchs, 2017). Many of the foundational psychological theories on grief center around the process of grief being cognitive and lack the embodiment, and body-specific impact that is profound in the grief experience (Pearce et al., 2022). In reflecting on the embodied quality of grief, Gundmundsdotttir (2009) proposes not viewing the bodily symptoms as psychosomatic reactions that reflect maladaptive coping, but rather to understand the role the body plays in being able to guide individuals grieving through the process of reorganizing, adjusting and learning to navigate their new world, through information that the body is providing. By exploring the body’s felt sensations and tapping into imagery and metaphor, dance/movement therapy can support people in grief through a process focused on: remembering the person who died and integrating conscious and unconscious memories; re-remembering and re-learning who we are in our body with the grief and a sense of living differently; and finding access to experience the full expression of one’s grief in a safe and supportive space.

Included in

Dance Commons