Love & Loss
creative therapeutic writing on relationships
extracts from the book
In a remote area in the south of Morocco, I felt my heart had come home as I discovered the desert. For a week I stayed in a rhiyad (guest house), reached along ancient tracks into the desert, and near a huddle of Berber dwellings. I was given one room in the corner of a spacious rectangular walled compound where I could write, make tea and sleep. In the sandy soil young trees of fig, orange, eucalyptus and almond had been planted to provide shade and shelter.
(Raw Heart, Chapter 3. p.50)
And here I reflected and wrote . . . pieces that eventually found their way into this book.
Karsch my Berber guide led me on a camel called Abu deep into the desert to the sand dunes. The March weather here is warm. I write this sitting on a wooden stool with a roughly woven seat, waiting for the kettle to boil. I am surrounded by a mud and straw brick wall built in the typical Moroccan pattern with squares and triangles and little turrets on the top. It must be about seven foot high. A black hen struts into my courtyard and then out again.
(Dream Snatcher, Chapter 1. P.12)
This book on exploring love and loss in the context of therapeutic writing invites the reader to consider love, not just as an emotion, but as something existing in its own right, as an energy force ebbing and flowing through me, and flowing between me and others. What is immediately apparent in reading this work is the accessible and honest telling, from an experiential base. And the invitation for the reader is to write and in this way cultivate personal wisdom.
Writing is not just seen as an activity, but as an archetypal character – a cartographer that allows us to learn and draw our own map for good living. This book, inspired in part by Jungian and principles from other psychological traditions, is written by an experienced therapeutic writing teacher, a human being intent on being awake and open, who inspires others to live more meaningfully and to dare touch their own yearning.
In a humorous way Monica asks, why should I invade my own privacy by writing this book? And the response is clear: our own vulnerability, written down, but then also edited with care becomes a gift for others who all share the human experience of love, loss, and the precious insights that articulating lived experience brings.
The exercises are fun, clever, and entertaining. This book, if used to reflect and do one’s own writing, will certainly bring personal insight and support the cultivation of self-trust — which is exactly what is needed to trust love.
Dr Reinekke Lengelle,
Visiting professor of Writing for Personal Development:
Universities of Alberta, Athabasca, The Hague
Sometimes playful, sometimes painfully raw, always fascinating, Monica Suswin’s account reveals a complex inner life. Suswin draws on her training in humanistic psychotherapy and on diverse sources ranging from Jung and Hegel to D.H.Lawrence and Edvard Munch; she provides a helpful and accessible appendix for the reader who requires further enlightenment.
Each chapter concludes with very practical ideas for writing, which would be equally useful for an individual seeking self-development or in group settings. These prompts are clearly and concisely presented and would be a rich source for practitioners in helping professions. They include unsent letters, freewriting, dramatic dialogues, ekphrastic writing, writing from a ‘naïve’ and ‘wise’ point of view, playing with personal pronouns to shift perspective, and using symbols and archetypes. The author is keenly aware of the need for self-care and provides important advice on when not to write!
For me, the appeal of this book is the way in which Monica Suswin shares practical ideas for writing which are rooted in personal experience and have been thoroughly tested by the author. I was intrigued by the concept of Writing as a character – a cartographer, who makes maps to guide us through experience, and to help us live more fully. A nurturing, almost maternal companion who can help us resolve painful experiences by externalising them, and who will often surprise us - but who will ultimately lead us to integration of the self and to improved relationships with others.
I would thoroughly recommend it to therapeutic writing facilitators and to individuals wishing to make sense of relationships through writing.
Elizabeth Dunford – Creative Writing Facilitator
(adapted from a longer book review) http://www.lapidus.org.uk/
Words for Wellbeing – 31 May 2019
Love & Loss is written with huge compassion and a brave authenticity and openness to human vulnerability. Thank you Monica, for your wonderful guidance in drawing us along with you to feel safe enough and vulnerable enough to explore and express for ourselves. I look forward to using the many writing suggestions. I love the cover that draws us in with its shades of pink and the fragile, resilient, enticing butterfly.
Monica writes with careful awareness and consideration of the reader; there is a deep sense of her wish to share and have her experiences shared; to meet others where human experience connect. Brevity, pace, clarity, candidness, warmth come to mind. The balance between the personal, with engaging heart-warming stories, the explanation of theory (Jung, Freud etc); the exposition and interpretation is wonderfully accessible. Thus a depth of connection happens with oneself and with the author.
This is a book that works toward alchemy – prompting the discovery in many wisely chosen ways of the diamond hidden within. This book is a treasure.
Director: International Association for Voice Movement Therapy