Community Members Use Art to Express Grief


During the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, Learning to Live: What’s Your Story? sponsored a Community Remembrance Creation event. The mission of our collaborative partnership is to encourage people to share their stories of how they are learning to live with loss — loss, grief, growth and transformation.

Many folks approached the Learning to Live table during the Arts Fest. There were grandparents with their grandchildren. The children were curious about what was going on. We asked, “Have you ever had someone you love die?” Several children remembered their pet goldfish and created a farewell on one of the shapes. One of the grandchildren that participated told their mom later that they drew pictures and wrote their feelings about Granddad. Grown-ups also shared sentiments about their losses.

The creation was an 8-by-12 foot piece of lattice with various colored shapes — thought bubbles, hearts, teardrops — tied to it. People were invited to choose one and write something about their grief journey. The multicolored pieces were tied on the lattice. Sentiments included: “Bye Goldie,” a farewell to their fish; “Je t’aime. I miss you”; “So many memories; most of them make me smile”; “Regret tell people how much they mean to you”; “Who am I?”; “carrying my story”; and words: “hope”; “strength”; “love.”

We hope to continue to offer opportunities for our community to share their stories. At previous events we placed a piece of muslin on a table and again invited folks to share their stories. Longer accounts of loss and grief are chronicled on two of these muslin pieces. People have stories to share. We want of offer the chance to share and witness these unique stories. Sharing our stories can help us heal while also honoring those and what we’ve lost.

Thanks to all the folks who came out and volunteered at our table and special thanks to those folks who shared their stories with us. Watch for us at future events, including Lion Bash.

Learning to Live: What’s Your Story? Is a collaborative partnership between Penn State’s Cedar Clinic, various PSU Campus Ministries and area churches, Tides, Koch Funeral Home and other individuals and organizations. If you have a story to tell or would like to write an article, contact Evelyn Wald is a licensed professional counselor and member of the Learning To Live partnership.
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