Friday, February 13, 2009

Expressive Arts

Yesterday I went to a wake for someone who died entirely too young and under circumstances that were entirely too tragic. There's been entirely too much of this sort of thing in my life as of late, and it's really starting to wear down what little reserves I have left. On this side of heaven, there is just nothing that makes this OK. It's not OK. What do you say to his mom? What do you say to strangers who don't understand? What do you say to God?
In theory, our American death, dying, and burial traditions are designed to facilitate personal closure, the ability to say goodbye, and provide support to the bereaved. Perhaps they accomplish this sometimes. However, I've often seen the chaos and hassle of arrangements be too overwhelming for those suffering loss. I've also seen the hours upon hours of sitting in a room with a loved one who isn't really there anymore, while trying to play hostess, simply amount to torture for the grieving.
This family did something I've heard of, but not personally seen. They had T-shirts made in honor of their lost loved one. Colorful, airbrushed, personalized T-shirts with his picture and a carefully selected Bible verse. Perhaps I'm biased because of my love for the creative, but I just felt this was a beautiful way to mourn. Is there a loss in your life that you would like to honor by creating something? What would you create?


LeAnne Benfield Martin said...


This is not something I could create, but it's a created thing that I can share. At each house where I've lived, I've planted a tree in memory of my first baby, whom I lost, and in honor of my second baby, who is now nine years old. It's a wonderful feeling to plant and nurture a beautiful thing for such a purpose--reminders of how precious life is and what a gift our loves ones are.

The first trees were pink cherries. The second pair at the second house was pink dogwoods. They were all beautiful and they bloomed early, reminding me that winter was over and spring was arriving. An ongoing metaphor for my life at the time.

I haven't planted trees at this house yet, because we are going to have a landscape plan done and I want them to be put in just the right place. We will do it, though, for certain.

What will you create?


Brenda Leyland said...

Hi, I found your site over at LeAnne's. I was interested in your comments about creating something to honour a loss in our lives.

Because that is exactly what I did when my dad went home to heaven a few years ago. I created a little scrapbook with some of my favourite photos of him. It became a way to express my love and to muse, laugh, and cry over the photos as I designed each page.
It was an expression that led to much healing.

Later, I also wrote an essay that I submitted to a writing contest. It wasn't until I started working on this exercise that I was able to see more clearly the essence of my dad's being -- which, of course, gave me a greater understanding and appreciation for the man himself, who also happened to be my dad!

Thank you for the opportunity to consider this again....