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Artfully Transforming Grief

August 04, 2014

Many clients and patients come to Skyland Trail with unresolved grief, or experience a loss while in treatment.  Recognizing the universal experiences of loss and grief, we seek to make space for the experience, expression, and transformation of grief during our weekly Loss and Grief group.  In addition to our Loss and Grief group, we hold retreats.  These photographs are from our Artfully Transforming Grief Retreat facilitated by art therapists Helen and Phoebe, and our pastoral counselor Ayo. 

During this day-long retreat, participants met in a relatively-secluded wooden pavilion in a seven-acre flower garden.  We began the day settling into our “container” for grief with fellowship, intention setting, arriving at agreements for the day, and a candle-lighting ritual.  Afterwards, we engaged in making votives recalling the favorite memories of our loved ones, creating “grief balls” of soil and seeds to be planted on the day when we are able to let go of mourning and imagine a hope-filled future, writing a letter to acknowledge unfinished “business,” and a memory box wherein we put small mementos of our lost loved ones. These activities were balanced with times for processing in the group, as well as processing in the garden individually. 

In addition to reflecting on past losses, we acknowledged the losses in the room, as three clients were going to graduate from treatment soon, then closed our day with a balloon release.  Clients expressed gratitude for the opportunity to focus on their losses as well as their opportunities for growth.