Healthy Remembrance Memorial Ornament Grief Art Workshop
The holidays are upon us and it is extra important to take intentional time to care for yourself and to remember
and honor the love ones you've lost. Grief always seems to tougher around the holidays, but the chaos and isolation of 2020 is unlike anything we've ever faced. That's why Danica Thurber at Project Grief put together
this Healthy Remembrance Memorial Ornament grief art workshop.
In this workshop you'll learn how to make a beautiful ornament that contains hand-written memories.
The trouble is that the holidays are here, but our lost loved ones not. It can be tempting to either push thoughts
of a lost loved one away, OR sink into the depths of despair. That’s why doing something productive -
making something with your hands! - can be so helpful.
This ornament is made out of a toilet paper roll. Before making the snowflake, you’ll have time to reflect
and write a memory or a letter to your lost loved one.
Watch it and participate for FREE. Here is the link: https://youtu.be/Wzg8oEJQIkQ
If you’re interested in learning more about Project Grief resources
or purchasing a course, please visit with my affiliate link:
Instagram LIVE Event: Lulu Faces Loss and Finds Encouragement
Join @my_grief_connection founder, Sara Cobb, and author Danica Thurber of @projectgriefart for a
special Instagram LIVE event on Friday, October 16th at 6:00 PM (MST). We'll be giving you a
preview of her beautiful new children's book, “Lulu Faces Loss and Finds Encouragement.”
We'll also be chatting about our favorite grief resources for children and share some suggestions
to help parents & caregivers who are tending to children who are grieving.
“Lulu Faces Loss and Finds Encouragement” gives children a way to creatively express their thoughts
and emotions about death & grief. It’s also a helpful resource for the adults in their lives because it
helps both sides engage in meaningful conversation. There’s even instructions to a cute craft activity
that goes with the book - one which kids and adults can do together.
Attend the IG LIVE for a chance to will a FREE eBook copy in a drawing!
The e-book is available now as a pre-release on Amazon and it’s only a few dollars.
It can be purchased via the affiliate link here: https://amzn.to/3lIhVcE
The printed paperback version will be released on October 20th, and if you’d like to get an email when that’s available, you can sign up on the author’s waitlist at https://projectgrief.org/p/kidsbook
The Do’s and Don’t’s of Talking With a Child About the Death of a Loved One - By Guest Blogger Danica ThurberRead Now
The Do’s and Don’t’s of Talking With a Child About the Death of a Loved One
1 in 5 children will experience the death of someone close to them by age 18.
(Kenneth Doka, Editor of OMEGA, Journal of Death and Dying)
Talking to a child about death may be one of the hardest things you have to do in your life. I conducted a survey in early 2020 about parents’ experiences with helping their children talk about and grieve the loss of a loved one. One respondent’s answer was very telling:
[M]y husband, their father, died. Telling my kids was even more painful than his death.
That’s what makes this topic so complicated: along with starting difficult conversations with your children, you yourself may be deep in the throes of grief for the loss of the same loved one.
While I wish that there was a way to lessen your pain, I have found that there are several things you can bring into conversations with your kids to make it easier.
As another survey respondent wrote:
Knowing the right language and having guidance on how to talk about death can help make the conversation less scary and have the confidence the conversation is healthy.
The following tips will do just that - provide guidance that can help you have some structure, as well as some confidence, as you enter the unknowns of these difficult conversations with your children.
DON’T SOFTEN YOUR LANGUAGE - BE DIRECT
“We speak of heaven and of illness. We do not use words such as ‘she went to sleep’... It can be hard at first to be direct, but two years later we see great fruit from the hard conversations.” - 2020 survey respondent
It can be tempting to soften the blow by softening your language (“he passed away,” “she went to heaven in her sleep”). However, kids don’t necessarily grasp the nuances of adult language. For young children especially, it’s important to use the words “dead” and “death” and then to describe what that actually means. For example:
“… explain that when someone dies their body stops working, they can’t eat, talk, feel, etc. That their heart and lungs stop working…” - 2020 survey respondent
My children’s book, “Lulu Faces Loss and Finds Encouragement,” portrays this type of direct conversation in a simple and emotional way. The main character, Lulu is eight years old, and because this is her first major loss, she needs to know precisely what death means as it applies to her relationship with her Grandma:
Once a child understands the physical reality of death, you can then explain it in terms of your family’s spiritual beliefs regarding what happens after death.
If you’re facing an impending death, you’ve got a good opportunity to be honest with children now about a loved one’s prognosis. I know it’s hard to be honest about this, because you may be having a hard time accepting their prognosis as well. However, talking about what will happen when the loved one dies, as well as who will take care of them, and then answering their questions, will greatly help them prepare for a loved one's impending death.
“My husband was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer in 2016. He died in May 2019. [A]long the way we worked to be honest with our kids about how serious it was while also not wanting to burden them more than was necessary.” - 2020 survey respondent
Kids though, take all their cues from their parents. While I was in deep traumatic grief, I tried to remain/appear steady for them. - 2020 survey respondent
The concept of death is something that is acquired as a child matures and goes through life experiences. Explaining death using concepts that are either too old, or too young for the child, may cause more frustration and hurt. It may be helpful to research developmental understanding of death before approaching your conversation with your child. Cancer.net has a very helpful summary.
According to cancer.net, school-aged children (6-12 years old) are able to understand that death is final (AKA, irreversible regardless of what they think, say or do). However, they may still think of the deceased person existing in a changed form, such a spirit, like a ghost, angel, or a skeleton. “By age 10, [children can] understand that death happens to everyone and cannot be avoided,” that is, they understand the universality of death. They may be interested in the specific details surrounding the circumstances of that person’s death, or what is being done to the body (autopsy, cremation, burial). School-aged children “[m]ay experience a range of emotions including guilt, anger, shame, anxiety, sadness, and worry about their own death,” and they may also incorrectly assign blame to themselves, thinking they somehow caused the death. Every child will experience grief differently, but some may “[s]truggle to talk about their feelings. Their feelings may come out through behaviors such as school avoidance, poor performance in school, aggression, physical symptoms, withdrawal from friends, and regression.” In addition, school-aged children “[m]ay worry about who will take care of them, and will likely experience feelings of insecurity, clinginess, and abandonment.”
In light of this age-centered understanding of death, when talking to a school-aged child about death, you may:
“Helping them know their dad is still with them, loves them and is proud of them.” - 2020 survey respondent
A child’s sense of security is rocked when a loved one dies. Speaking from my own experience of childhood loss,
I know that children will need an abundance of reassurance in the coming weeks and months in order to recover that loss of security.
DON’T say things like these:
Hopefully you can detect the cringe-worthy burdens lurking behind these words. While these phrases may have the appearance of reassurance, they only serve to stifle a child’s grief because of an expectation of how they “should” or “shouldn’t” be feeling.
Instead, here are some things you can do repeatedly (keyword!) in conversations with your school-aged child:
LET THEM LEAD
“I try to just meet them wherever they are emotionally. If they want to talk, we talk. If they want to cry, we cry.
If they want funny stories, we tell funny stories. I have found in my own grief, that grief is much more bearable
if you’re allowed to talk about it & live in it. So i try to do that for them too.” - 2020 survey respondent
It’s commonly said that a child’s inability to cope with trauma or big emotions is the their mind’s way of protecting them. Children will tend to express their grief in small spurts, rather than in long, drawn out seasons, as an adult would. In between these spurts, the child may seem completely fine. According to cancer.net, “A child’s grief may seem to come and go. And a child may rarely verbally express his or her grief. This is normal. Your child may also re-experience the intensity of the loss as he or she grows up.” It’s almost as if the loss needs to be re-processed with each developmental stage they pass. I’ve certainly found this to be true in my own experience.
DON’T force a child to engage in a grief activity. Have activities such as a trip to the cemetery, a book about loss, or a therapeutic art activity ready to go for when they seem to be feeling sad or when they bring up a question. Let the child’s emotions lead you, but don’t be afraid to ask questions, either. You might also learn more from an overheard conversation during play time, or their recent drawing of the family.
“When the boys were 3 and 5, their brother died as a result of a birth defect […] We learned to be more in the moment when it came to grief for them-they would be sad and ask why he had to leave one minute and then be totally ok the next.” - 2020 survey respondent
WHEN TO SEEK HELP
If you yourself are emotionally incapacitated by the loss of a loved one, it can be near impossible to provide the support your child needs. It takes so much courage to recognize that you need help. Attending counseling and seeking social support from other trusted adults will help not only you, but your child as well.
Pay special attention to signs that your child may be having an especially difficult time coping with a loved ones death:
See source link here.
YOU CAN DO THIS
While you’re the adult in the situation, that doesn’t mean you have to have it all together, or provide all the answers. A listening ear, a comforting hug, and a willingness to answer questions will go a long way towards helping a child cope with the loss of a loved one.
Remember, you’re allowed to grief, too. Showing at least some of your grief in front of your children shows them that it’s perfectly ok to feel their grief too. A family that learns to grieve together, no matter how messily, will be able to help each other find strength and hope as they navigate a loss, together.
Books can be helpful tools for both you and your child. They can be conversation starters, as well as give you a tangible reference point for discussing things you don’t have words for (“remember how in the book, Grandma lost all of her hair? That’s what will happen to your mom soon.”). If you’re looking for a book that can help you and your child talk about things like death, cancer, hospice, or the loss of a grandparent, check out “Lulu Faces Loss and Finds Encouragement,” available on Amazon on October 20, 2020.
Danica Thurber is a professional artist, therapeutic art Life Coach, and art teacher. She's also the art ministry director at Vineyard Boise. Visit her website at https://projectgrief.org/
Coloring For Self Care
Join Danica Thurber of Project Grief on Monday, August 17, 2020 from 12:10pm-1:00pm MDT
for this self-care, digital event. Cost is just $10. It's essential to anyone grieving, dying, or providing care right now. Self-care is NOT selfish! In this workshop, Danica will talk about the obstacles we face when it comes to taking care of ourselves. Then she'll share some TRUTH, reflection questions, and creative ideas for how to engage in self-care in a way that is both healthy AND refreshing. Included in your registration: Replay video, community discussion, private log in access to "Coloring for Self-Care" at ProjectGrief.Org,
AND 3 printable coloring/activity pages to help you brainstorm ways that you can engage in
self-care. Print and color these after our time together as a way to apply what you've learned.
All you’ll need to participate: Pen & paper for taking notes.
From ‘Grief Victim’ To Grief Artist
Join this FREE, virtual grief-art-making event from Project Grief is coming
Monday, July 27, 2020 at 12:10 PM MST via ZOOM.
This event is part of the global festival, "Reimagine Life & Loss".
In this creative workshop, you'll construct a paint palette to demonstrate the colors
with which we are painting our lives and talk about the characteristics of
a grief victim (who lives in only grays, blacks, and blue) and a
GRIEF ARTIST (who lives out of the full color spectrum).
All you’ll need to participate:
Event is FREE but you must RSVP to get the Zoom link.
Permission to Grieve: With Watercolor & Crayon Resist - FREE Online Event
Hosted by Project Grief
Monday, July 13, 2020 from 12:10 - 1:00 PM (MST)
The first step toward healing after a loss, is granting oneself permission to grieve.
This about HOW to do it by creating a simple watercolor art project as a way of granting that permission.
Even if you’re a total beginner, art is an incredible tool for healing.
During this virtual event, you’ll:
1.) LISTEN about the importance of granting yourself permission to grieve
2.) LEARN some ideas on HOW to do it
3.) TRY IT OUT for yourself with a simple watercolor & crayon resist activity.
Materials: Watercolors (tubes, cakes, or even that 8 color Crayola kid set will do),
Watercolor paper, watercolor brush, cup of water, paper towel, AND a white crayon (very important!).
If you have questions about art materials or content, please contact
Danica Thurber directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Register for this event at:
Art For Your Grief Journey: Going Beyond Words To Heal
Monday, June 29, 2020 from 12:10 - 1:00 pm (MST)
Hosted by Project Grief, part of the FREE online virtual summit Reimagine: Life, Loss, and Love.
This is a digital event. Beginners welcome!
Learn how creativity can help you externalize the pain inside, and then try
a simple doodling activity for yourself.
Register at: https://tinyurl.com/artforyourgrief
Art Journaling for Grieving Parents (& those who lost what will never be) with artist Danica Thurber of Project Grief
Follow along with the lovely Danica Thurber of Project Grief during a replay of a special Watch Party where you'll do an easy art activity. Grieving what will never be (vs. grieving what was) is a kind of loss that requires special attention and care. This kind of grief hits parents most when they lose a child. No art experience required.
All you need is something to write with and something to write on.
Project Grief: Growth Mindsets for Grievers - Free Webinar - Part 1
Project Grief: Growth Mindsets for Grievers - Free Webinar - Part 2
Have you ever thought "I should be done feeling like 'this' by now"?
This kind of "fixed mindset" actually stifles grief and keeps you from ever "feeling better"!
We can't change our loss or the circumstances around us, but we do have the power over our mindset.
"Growth mindset" is a way of thinking that opens up new possibilities and paves the way for change and growth.
In these 2 FREE webinar replays, hosted by Danica Thurber from Project Grief, you'll learn some new powerful changes in mindset, as well as a few practical tips and tricks as to how you can put them into practice in your life.
I highly recommend Project Grief and have taken the mini-course, master course & Holidays After Loss Course myself with great results. If you’re interested in learning more about Project Grief resources or purchasing a course,
please visit with my affiliate link: https://projectgrief.org/?affcode=182270_vqacozol
Sara J. Cobb
Founder, My Grief Connection
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My Grief Connection - Created 04 July 2019
Updated 20 November 2021
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