How Jewelry Can Play a Role in Grief


BY: Diane Snyder Cowan, MA, MT-BC, CHPCA

CATEGORY: Grief and Loss

​Spring is right around the corner. Soon we will see signs of new growth with snow drops, crocus, daffodils and tulips. I look forward to this spring with mixed emotion. This will be my first spring since my mom died.

I was given a birdbath and 30 tulip bulbs after her death. I built and planted a small memory garden before the first frost. Now, I look forward to spring to see these flowers dancing in the wind.   

But with the spring comes Mother’s Day and that worries me a bit. I know the anticipation is usually worse than the day itself, but I am apprehensive nonetheless.

My grief journey has been the typical roller coaster of emotions with good days and bad days. But I did find one thing that brought me comfort each day— my mom’s jewelry.

My mom had a lot of jewelry. There were rings, earrings and other pieces she wore frequently. Mom went back and forth to the hospital quite often in the last months of her life. I would take the gold chain from around her wrist and put it on mine during her hospital stay. After the last visit, she no longer wanted the bracelet back on her wrist. She said that I should continue wear it and I have rarely taken it off since.  

After her death, my siblings and I split up the costume jewelry that we wanted, donated the rest and locked up the good pieces. There was a ring that I loved and a few other items that spoke to me. My siblings were similarly drawn to other pieces. A jeweler told me that gems and metals absorb the energy of the person who wears them and that’s why certain pieces spoke to each adult child differently. This made perfect sense to us.    

During the first few months after mom’s death, I found that I was an extremely grumpy griever. BUT—when I wore the ring or a pair of earrings in addition to the bracelet, I felt great consolation. The jewelry became my transition objects. Just as a toddler finds solace in carrying her security blanket wherever she goes, I comfort myself by wearing my mom’s jewelry.  

What is your blanket? What brings you comfort? A letter in your loved one’s handwriting? A pair of pajamas? A photo? Allow that treasured item to soothe you on the harder days of grief.


About Diane Snyder Cowan​
Diane Snyder Cowan is the director of Western Reserve Grief Services.

She oversees the hospice and bereavement programs and expressive therapy. Diane is a Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Administrator and a Board Certified Music Therapist.

She currently serves as the Section Leader for the Bereavement Professional Section of the National Council of Hospice and Palliative Professionals and previously served on the Board of Directors of the Certification Board for Music Therapy.

Diane has presented on music therapy and grief and loss throughout the country and has written for many publications on music therapy and on grief and loss.

She strives to provide support and education to grieving individuals and those who work with them.