All Courses Forums Course Discussion Forums Grief and the Healing Arts How the arts can be helpful in my ministry.

3 replies, 4 voices Last updated by Gail Henson 2 years, 7 months ago
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    • #4545

      william james
      @willliam james schafer


      I’m always interested in finding new mediums, modes as well as different vantage points in assist my own grief and ultimate others as I learn, grow and become.  Outside of some very select songs from Any Grant I have incorporated very limited usage of the Arts.  I’m thinking reflectively…Why be tied to the verbal?  Where is your creative side?  What needs to be nourished or healed to be that individual Henry Nowen refers to as the ‘wounded healer’?  So many questions and more surfacing!

      That being said let me say I’m happy to be at this point in time and I’m open to the various possibilities of exploring the Arts for and in the realm of grief.

      From the article this week;

      1) I can personally and professional resonate the notion of , “we know, however, that not tidy linear trajectory exists”  when not only personally experiencing grief but the same holds true for the many or varied individuals I come across who are currently working some form of grief. This is very hopeful.

      2) “Not everyone wants to go to deep meaning levels.  Some people simply want to function without much reflection or re-visioning.”  It is almost like some people are on ‘auto-pilot’ thus the need to stand still or just exist.  Or better yet I ask myself, “how might I be able to deepen my relationship with the grieving person so as to move past the surface and be present as a companion, mentor or trusted person to hear another’ story?

      3) Perhaps a great nugget of insight to the above comments might be the quote from Sandra Bertman, in her collection of essays Grief and the Healing Arts, where she states, ” With the mediation of the arts-…, we and our clients become involved…in heightened identification, catharsis, and insight.” Here is a key for me in the exploration of this class.

      4) So…if I reflect on the question possessed at the end of this lesson, ‘How could this be useful in your work?’ How would I respond?

      a) first,learn what little I know

      b) be willing to own #1 and poise my spirit to be willing to explore options

      c) and then take the necessary steps or perhaps risks to adventure into some new medium for starters.

      I’ll pause for now.


      william james

    • #4549

      Rick Underwood

      William James, as always I am impressed with your thoughtfulness.  Your replies got me going. Here are some of my reflections on the first reading and questions posed by Gail.

      As I mentioned, I have just returned to clinical work as a PRN chaplain.  In the three months, I have served mostly on call responding to calls in the middle of the night to come and sit with dying persons and their families. So my recent experience has been with the first couple of levels of response.  As I attempt to help hold the emotional and spiritual tension with the patients, families and staff, it is most helpful to know that this is one human experience we all have in common.  Further, it provides some reassurance that there are fairly predictable reactions most, if not all go through.  Numbness, denial, searching for meaning, longing or pinning for the anticipated loss relationship, anger, guilt, loneliness, fear, sorrow and relief gradually emerge as vulnerable human beings struggle to come to grips with the end.

      All of these experiences build on the many personal losses I have sustained over the past two years: two brothers-in-law, and a father-in-law. I grow ever more aware of how sacred these times are.  It feels like a gift to be able to share in these most vulnerable of times.

      Pictures that come to mind when I experience the pain of loss are wilderness and a dark night of the soul.  Music that rings in my mind are “Lean on Me”   “The River”.

      I find many of the Psalms speak to the sorrow and the hope.

      Reading this material and reflecting on experiences of loss and grief, I find identification and patience.  For example, when a young man who had just lost his young mother cursed me, I was able to sit still and not react and allow him to express his anger, guilt and sadness, which flooded over him at the first sight of his deceased mom.

      I saw were Kathy has joined us and Rose has dropped out.  This is too important a topic to drop. So I hope we few can find meaning and hope out of our sharing.

      I stand still for now.


    • #4552

      Good afternoon,

      Such a timely topic, thanks for letting me join in late.

      I appreciated the reminders of the grief theories that were fairly familiar.  I too was touched by the statement “not everyone wants to go to deep meaning levels. Some people simply want to function with out much reflection or re-visioning.”  I, too, want to look for ways to touch a deeper meaning, but continue to offer respect for those who may not be ready to make that step -with me or not at all.  Sometimes silence can allow folks time to think and perhaps go deeper.    I keep thinking of my uncle whose wife died last Friday.  A tall, professional former Highway Patrolman, it will be hard to break through that shell to offer a deeper reflection.  I trust he will find someone who can be his sounding board as he embarks on this new venture of grief.

      Scripture seemed to come to mind as I was reminded of the tasks–

      1. Numbness, shock–the disciples as they needed to see Jesus–his hands, his feet.

      2. searching–as a deer pants…

      3. disorganization–I am the way

      4. reorganization–Psalm 23–lie down in green pastures.

      But sometimes a song gets caught in my mind and I think of someone.

      My Aunt Joyce  and I had sewing, quilting and crafting in common.  I think that when I am busy with crafts, I will think of her.

      I have taken scrapbooking paper and supplies to a support group meeting–asked participants to bring a photo–and the group made scrapbook pages.

      I have taken small inexpensive journals to patients for writing–so journaling could be another option.

      Maybe we could ask families or patient (not newly bereaved, but those we encounter further along in grief) if there is a song or quote that is helpful in their grief.

      What do you say to those who say–“I know God won’t give me any more than I can bear”?

      Blessings for your weekend!


    • #4571

      Gail Henson

      Hello everyone,

      I appreciated these reflections.  Piercing through hard shells, as Kathy mentioned, angry outbursts, dark places is no easy task.

      I hope that the various activities may open some windows for people as we explore them in week two.


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