Do you have friends or family who are coping with the death of a loved one this holiday season? During Treasuring Memories next Thursday, 2-4 pm, participants bring mementos to incorporate into commemorative artworks.
The Woodson Art Museum and Aspirus Comfort Care and Hospice Services embarked on a collaboration in 2008 that resulted in Treasuring Memories, a program offered twice a year. Amy Kitsemble, grief coordinator for Aspirus Comfort Care and Hospice Services, spearheaded the project. She based Treasuring Memories on work we had done together with Head Start. Following discussion and planning, we centered the program on creating memorial art in a museum setting. The program is free to minimize any possible barriers for participants. At each Treasuring Memories program, I lead the art-making process; Amy Kitsemble and hospice staff and volunteers are present to hear and honor stories of those grieving.
Art expression becomes part of the grieving passage because it allows hard-to-express feelings to be acknowledged. Grief is a universal experience and a normal emotional response to the death of a loved one. It is easier to share and discuss with others who have encountered the same transitional difficulties and understand the experience.
During Treasuring Memories, Thursday, December 27, all ages can drop in 2-4 pm at the Museum; plan for at least 30 minutes to complete a memory box.
Participants will embellish a box with photos or mementos they select and bring;these items can become a centerpiece of the box. Another option is to make a collage with provided materials, such as images from magazines, fabric, and found objects. These materials can represent a loved one’s favorite color, hobby, sport interest, or career. The inside of the box can become a special place for mementos or somewhere safe to keep notes or journal entries about the journey through grief and loss. When the memory boxes are completed, participants are invited to share their story of loss – no one is urged to share more than they wish or are comfortable sharing.
The program offers the opportunity for those who are grieving to use this personal, creative process to enhance their lives through self-expression. During the holiday season when extended family often gather, Treasuring Memories can be a healing activity designed to encourage sharing family stories while engaging in new experiences.