Workshop at Saranac Lake Art Gallery helps guide participants through grief to renewal

At the first shock of death, it feels like the pain will never end.

“I remember when my mom died she left me this beautiful ring that she wanted me to have and I just threw it in a drawer. I was so angry. Who cares about that ring. when what I want is my mom, ”said Diane Very Good, SUNY Plattsburgh art teacher.

She and Cathy Brooksie Edwards, director of the association Heart2heart, which accompanies people through death, death and beyond, is leading a weekend workshop at BluSeed Studios in Saranac Lake, in hopes of starting to build a community of people to share their stories. of loss, but also of joy.

Monique SandreczkiLiving with Death Event at BluSeed Studios

Parting (left) and Hereafter (right) by Rachel Davis, two pieces she produced following the deaths of her father and brother.

Fine relied heavily on the support of her mother’s Jewish friends who comforted her in mourning during their weeklong shiva. They would offer her advice and let her know about different ways she might feel or useful things to do.

“Back then, I was like, ‘oh my god, they’re so smart. I didn’t know my mom was friends with brilliant people. “Then later I realized, ‘Oh, they’ve all been there. They’ve learned this wisdom and supported other people through it.’

Finally, Fine opened that drawer, put on her mother’s ring, and was thrilled to wear it.

“We need guides [and community around you], even people who are about to die, they need guides to help them remember or go through the process of dying. And we who live need guides to help us through the grieving process, ”said Edwards.

“We don’t want it to get stuck because when we allow grief to get stuck in our body, it takes its toll. We want to be able to face that grief and be with it.”

"Survived by" by Plattsburgh-based artist Robert Wolf.  (oil and epoxy on panel).  This piece is on display at the BluSeed Studio in Saranac Lake.

“Survived By” by Plattsburgh-based artist Robert Wolf. (oil and epoxy on panel). This piece is on display at the BluSeed Studio in Saranac Lake.

Transforming grief

“What we’re trying to help people settle in is that there are so many ways, through creative places and being really in the body, to transform our grief from loss to loss. joy, or loss in renewal, ”said Edwards. These creative places don’t have to be art, it can also be running, volunteering, journaling, taking a nature walk, or meditating.

For Fine, artistic creation was one of his guides.

“I didn’t go to the studio during this time of mourning, saying, ‘I’m now going to do some art on what it feels like to lose my mom. “I was just doing my art doing everything that normally happens with artistic creation.

Find out more about “Living with Dying” and the full schedule of events. by BluSeed Studios

“But when I finished this job, say over a two-year period, I was talking to a therapist; we arranged for me to bring the work to show him. I remember watching it and it was very happy work! The colors were really bright, there was fantasy. And I remember saying to my therapist, “Oh my god, I feel like an impostor! Because I know how sad I was when I was doing this art. And now I’m watching and it doesn’t look sad, does it?

“She said, ‘It’s okay! It’s because that joy of your mother and your joy of your relationship with your mother’ – even though I was not aware of all of that – was there! So I think this job that I did then was kind of carrying me through. It took me some distance to say, ‘yeah, underneath all that grief was that joy.’ “

Treat collective pain

untitled by Carol Marie Vossler.

untitled by Carol Marie Vossler.

Edwards and Fine say they are also aware of the collective grief we feel during the pandemic. One in three Americans know someone who has lost a loved one during the pandemic and the deep sadness of dying alone.

“It is the loss of the honor of escorting that person or being with your loved one. The grace – if that is the right word – to be there with my sister when she returned her last. breath, ”Fine said. “I’m grateful that she, she honored me or that the universe honored me by allowing me to be there with her at that time and think only of the multitudes of people who were deprived of it. “

“It’s understanding that grief is not just about the death of a loved one; grief is related to our planet, and it’s related to how we thought things were going to look,” said Edwards.

“Our depth of love is shown in our depth of sorrow around the loss.”

This weekend, you can check out some of Fine’s works produced in the midst of the deaths of her mother and sister, as well as those of other artists made during their mourning.

Fine says that the work of these artists is “exquisite” and that she had the joy of “pouring out herself on this work”. There will also be story sharing and a time of sound healing, gentle guidance and reflection.

As this event leads to Dia De Los Muertos, participants are encouraged to leave works of art, notes and images on an ofranda, an altar, designed by Martha Jackson of Restored Design with the help of hospitalized residents. at St. Joseph’s Addiction Treatment and Recovery. Center.

Check out NPR’s Life Kit Grief for Beginners: 5 Things to Know About Treatment Loss

William E. Bennett

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