Coloring Grief


BY: Diane Snyder Cowan

CATEGORY: Grief and Loss

February was a busy month growing up. It began with my parent's anniversary on the first and then birthdays and holidays throughout the month. This month would have marked 68 years. Dad died four years ago but to my mom he is still a strong presence in her life. She routinely has conversations with him and feels his presence in their home. 

Mom used to be an avid needlepoint artist and knitter. Literally dozens of needlepoints adorn her walls, mine and my siblings, and our children's children's walls. We all have sweaters, afghans, jackets and vests knitted by her arthritic hands. But at 89, she can no longer do needlepoint or knit. To fill the time and need to keep her hands busy and creative, she picked up an adult coloring book several months ago on a whim. Now they are all the craze.

coloring2.jpg While lunching with my mom, she remarked that she has conversations with my dad while she is coloring. I asked what he said.  "Oh, that's a nice color. Good job. Things like that." I wondered if he had commented on her needlepoint throughout the years. "Oh yes, he used to wake up before me and check and see how much I had completed the night before and how wonderful it looked. And he always went with me to pick out the frame." Mom's eyes looked blissful and her face was glowing as she reminisced. It was lovely.

As a music therapist I am well aware of the benefits of doing repetitive tasks. Doing something in rhythm with your hands is trance inducing and comforting. It can be strumming a guitar, hitting the drums or tinkling the ivories. And it can be coloring. Coloring becomes a type of meditation and the results are often beautiful creations. As you move through your grief journey, consider experimenting with an adult coloring book.  You may be surprised to find that it offers a vacation from the stress of grief or perhaps connects you to your beloved.

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