arts & entertainment
•nrvifs Throug Grief
Judith Burdick's new documentary helps people
in the process of surviving the loss of loved ones.
mother surviving the loss of
her teenage son and a daughter
surviving the teenage loss of her
mother appear on film to reveal how they
moved beyond deep grief.
Elizabeth Guz and Ricki Friedman are
among seven people spotlighted by Judith
Burdick, a Bingham Farms psychotherapist
who wrote and directed the newly released
Transforming Loss: A Documentary.
Burdick, who has her own grief-survival
story to tell, believes in the healing power
of relating to what others have experienced.
Much of her own healing as a young widow
with two children had to do with becom-
ing a psychotherapist counseling others
While there are no tickets left for the
film's February premiere at the Maple
Theater in Bloomfield Township, two addi-
tional screenings are being planned in the
near future and will be posted on Burdick's
"The film has a cohesive message of
hope that flows in a way that's similar to
the way the process of grief unfolds:' says
the 52-year-old Burdick, whose premiere is
being sponsored by Temple Beth El, where
she had religious training and remains a
"In the beginning of the film, viewers
experience the loss of each individual, three
of whom are Jewish, as the stories are told.
Viewers next go through the healing pro-
cess with them.
"The third part of the film focuses on
how these people transformed or are trans-
forming their lives and how they are help-
ing others as part of that transformation:'
Guz, who lives in Franklin and appreciat-
ed the support of the mourning process by
the Temple Beth El community, had tried to
help her son through his emotional difficul-
ties before she had to face his death.
"I had two other kids and a husband,
and I knew I had to be strong for them:'
says Guz, who read about spirituality and
pursued exercise classes to fill any free
moments during the immediate time of
adjustment. "I found out I was stronger
than I thought:'
As Guz, whose daughter Lauren Guz
composed the score for the film, was work-
ing out emotional issues surrounding death,
she learned a lot about herself and the
importance of prioritizing.
"I felt there's a choice if
something terrible happens:'
she explains. "I can't change
the past, but I can move for-
The idea for developing a
film to capture different ways
of moving forward came to
Burdick about three years ago
when she had become frustrat-
ed with attempts at completing
a book on the subject.
After stepping away from
her initial chapters on the
advice of a friend, she came
up with the idea for the film
and worked with Marguerite
Parise as producer and John
Anderson Beavers as director
"I learned as I went alone
says Burdick, who contacted
patients and people in the
community as she sought indi-
viduals to include onscreen. "It
was like being in school:'
Burdick (nee Hamburger)
had been attending the
University of Michigan
when she met and married
Mark Rubens. They moved to
California as he pursued his
medical career, and she became
a stay-at-home mom for their
two children, Andrew and
After her husband's 1991 death during
a scuba diving accident, Burdick decided
to move back to Michigan and be close to
family and friends. She re-enrolled at U-M,
earned a bachelor's degree in psychology
and completed a master's degree in clinical
psychology at the Center for Humanistic
Studies (now the Michigan School for
Professional Psychology), then in Detroit.
"It's pretty standard when you go through
a loss that you find out who your friends
are she says. "I was able to make some
new friends, and I advise patients to open
themselves to others through new experi-
ences where they might meet people having
In 1995, the psychotherapist married
James Burdick, an attorney who was able to
become the father figure in the lives of her
"I wanted to specialize in grief because of
my life challenges:' says Burdick, whose son
is in medical residency and whose daughter
is studying English literature. "My practice
Judith Burdick consults with
Director of Photography John
"I wanted to specialize in grief
because of my life challenges."
— Filmmaker Judith Burdick
has been a gift to me. I hope it's been a gift
Friedman, 24 and a resident of
Birmingham, is a friend of Burdick's daugh-
"I learned that I had to keep persevering;
says Friedman, a weight-loss motivational
coach who has been active with Temple
Israel. "I went on wilderness trips, and that
pushed me to be stronger and let me know
I could work well at motivating people.
"As I learned a lot about myself, I found
that helping others is the key to recovery:'
Burdick's early professional initia-
tives were through the Jewish Hospice &
Chaplaincy Network, where she could call
upon her religious foundations. Her belief
in God had motivated study in Israel during
her sophomore year in college.
"Resiliency is really important, and that's
what I hope to share with people through
the film:' says Burdick, who has found
that gardening and outdoor activities offer
"We have this ability to access an inner
Elizabeth Guz of Frankin is
profiled in the film: "I can't
change the past, but I can
strength available to anybody with the
belief in that resource and with the tenac-
ity and strength to take the next step in the
face of tragedy.
"That's what people will see in this film
— examples of people who have suffered
but have accessed the inner wellspring that
gives them strength:'
While tickets for the Feb. 6-7
screenings at the Maple Theater in
Bloomfield Township are sold out,
two additional screenings are
being planned in the near future.
Register for updates on screenings
January 24 • 2013