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Posted on Wed, May 29, 2013 : 9 a.m.

Michigan Theater to screen grief-focused documentary

By Chelsea Hoedl

The Michigan Theater will host a viewing of ‘Transforming Loss,' a documentary about how to cope with the death of a loved one, follows six Michigan families who have experienced the death of a loved one.

The film will be screened at 7 p.m. Thursday and is open to anyone who purchases a ticket. The event is being put on by The University of Michigan Depression Center and The Kite Network, an organization that provides one-on-one peer counseling to those experiencing grief.

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The Michigan Theater will host a screening of 'Transforming Loss' on Thursday.

“This documentary and the entire subject matter is so closely aligned with the mission and work of The Kite Network," said Anne Rivard, executive director of The Kite Network. "It illustrates how we help our patients (as well as) our unique model of grief support."

The loss of each individual is unique, and the documentary shows the desire each family has to help others who are going through loss.

“People are going to get some up-close and personal answers about the grieving process,” said Judith Burdick, producer and director of the film. “The way the film is put together and the way it unfolds is mimicking the grief process itself. Watching it unfold is a learning experience. Ultimately, my hope is that people will walk away with a sense of hope after seeing how resilient people can be.”

Burdick, like Rivard, said her film perfectly fits with the mission and work being done by The Kite Network.

“The Kite Network is providing hope through peer support and it is really through sharing our stories and verbalizing our experiences of profound loss that enable us to heal,” Burdick said. “That’s one of the main messages in my documentary.”

The organization hopes showing the film will allow them to reach out to the community and show them what kind of support is available.

“Our message is to engage the greater community and let them know that there is hope and recovery and it is possible to find joy after a devastating loss,” Rivard said. “’Transforming Loss’ shows this possibility in a very real way.”

The Kite Network was founded by Doug and Julie Stotlar, who lost their 6-year-old daughter in 2000. In her honor, they developed a community support system to help others with their grief. Located on the east side of Ann Arbor, the network screens and trains volunteers and then pairs these carefully selected counselors with community members who come to the network in need of grief support.

“We want people to know there are many resources out there in the community," Rivard said. "The kite network is out there and willing to help and we hope that events like these will show that.".

The film screening will be followed by a brief discussion panel with psychologists from the University of Michigan Depression Center, five of the subjects followed in the movie, the maker of the documentary Judith Burdick, and and representatives from Kite Network.

The event will count as Michigan Social Work Continuing Education Credit. Those attending the event can receive 1.5 continuing credit hours.

Tickets can be purchased online or at the door. Cost of admission is $10 for adults, $8 for children, students, and seniors, and $7.50 for Michigan Theater members. VIP tickets are also available for $50, which include premium seating and a pre-screening reception.

A portion of the proceeds from the screening will go to The Kite Network to support the nonprofit organization, which dedicates itself to providing free grief counseling to community members.

Chelsea Hoedl is an intern reporter for She can be reached at