Thursday, December 31, 2020

Processing Loss Through Meaningful Making


Like so many others, I look forward to saying good bye to 2020.  It has been a very tough year for so many.  With the deaths from Covid 19 surpassing 333,000 the US and over 1.75 million deaths world wide, the collective grief we are feeling on this planet is unfathomable. 

Covid has also had an impact on the grieving process of for those who have experienced non-Covid related death of a friend or family member.  

This year, our family lost the first member of our family. In early August,  my sister, Linda,  flew from Maine to San Diego, to help her 25 year old  daughter fight the cancer she had just been diagnosed with.  On August 26, 2020 Alex lost her short battle with T-Cell Lymphoma leading to HLH disease.  I immediately flew out to San Diego be with Linda.  It was the first time I had watched someone so close to me grieve such an unimaginable loss.  As I watched Linda paint a beautiful heart shaped rock in the front yard of Alex's San Diego home. I personally witnessed the power of creating during the grieving process. 

From creating the design  to picking the perfect colors to carefully painting the rock,  Linda gave me the opportunity to watch a mother's love express itself - guided by a wave of emotions during this most difficult time.  

Over the past few weeks, I found myself creating an ornament that would keep memories from Alex as part of this Christmas and Christmases yet to come.  I spent days feeling and thinking about  Alex as I learned the skills needed to recreate the design Linda had painted into an ornament using Gravit Design and my  Glowforge laser cutter.  I played with different tools and materials, and made one for each of my 4 sisters, my dad, my mom, and my kids.  I felt Alex's presence throughout the whole process. 

I used this photo to help create the design using Gravit Design.

I used cardboard to cut prototypes on my Glowforge Laser Cutter.  

I then cut out ornaments on acrylic and wood 

During this process I also found myself thinking about other lives lost way too young this year in my circle of family and friends. Over the past few months,  several friends, family, and collegues  experienced the lost of their child as a young adult. 

Thoughts of the  heartbreak from so manty young lives lost this year keeps me up at night. It's intertwined with the feelings I get watching my sister navigate these painful months and my own feelings of loss- especially in a Covid world where many of the ways we grieve and offer support have been taken away from us. 

I found myself wanting to know more about each of these young adults and as I learned more I felt inspired to to create a special personal ornament for those who are missing them. 

I spent several days playing with Gravit,  The Noun Project and my GlowForge laser cutter to design cardboard prototypes. 

  I selected different materials and techniques to cut and finish each ornaments from. 

I cut some from maple, some from acrylic,  and some from MDF draftboard.  I've taken to the way draftboard absorbs the color of pencils and markers. 

I learned so much during this process.  But as I gained creative confidence, I also processed so many emotions about loss - not just about human loss, but also about other levels of loss that I have been feeling this year. 

As I've shared my thoughts on meaningful making as a way to process loss, so many people have shared their own ways that creating and making helped them through challenging times. 

I'm off to the post office to mail these out and hoping the personalized ornaments becomes part of the memories of a loved one that lives on -each year -- long after we say good riddance to one of the most challenging years I've lived. 

Attribution - Icons downloaded from The Noun Project
Icons from The Noun Project
Canada #698904
Fish #198584
MUSIC #1498388
Dragonfly #1116183
Tiger #3386527