How Do YOU Deal with Change?

By Mollie K. P. Borgione, ATR-BC, PC

heart-(1).jpgVirtual art therapy workshops? How would that work? This is what we had to ask ourselves when it was apparent after the first few weeks of March 2020 that the COVID-19 pandemic would be with us for quite some time. In-person workshops were out of the question. Trying to keep attendees and myself physically distanced and masked, the gathering spaces sanitized and cleaning shared art supplies would be a nightmare. How could we continue to serve the grieving people that attend the in-person art therapy bereavement workshops AND make sure we all stayed safe? 

As in all other areas of life, we had to adapt. We had to reinvent Healing Arts workshops from in-person to virtual. We had to, because grief wasn’t going to go away during the pandemic, in fact, it was only compounded by all the other losses we experienced due to COVID-19. Would people be interested in attending art therapy grief workshops online? Would they be able to show and see each other’s art well enough on a smartphone? After a practice group with some friends last April, it became apparent that it just might work! And it has! 

The greatest predictor of resiliency is our ability to adapt to change. We do not always do well with change. We like things to stay the same - to be predictable and constant. Most people believe that people do not change, but the reality is that we change all the time. Because we are “with” ourselves constantly, it is hard at such close range to see changes in our attitudes, our emotional maturity and our thinking over the years. 

In the late ‘80s, I attended a presentation by a speaker about  change. Using personal examples of how her attitudes, behaviors and beliefs have changed over the years, she added the phrase, “Change is a process, not an event!” after every illustration. She repeated it several times during her speech. It really made an impression on me, and I have never forgotten her words. 

Change is one of those guaranteed things in life. We know this all too well when a loved one dies. How do we look to a future without our loved one’s presence in it? Who are we now, without our loved one? We must learn to live our lives in a new way, to incorporate all the lessons and experiences and memories we have had with our loved one and carry them forward with us into the future. Struck by my use of the word “incorporate,” knowing that the root of the word means “body,” I looked it up. According to Merriam-Webster, the verb “incorporate,” means “add into a body” or “form into a body.”
 
This reminded me of the “Continuing Bonds” theory of grieving put forward by Klass, Silverman and Nickman (1996). This theory recognizes the fact that grief is an ongoing process which continues for our lifetime after the loss. It also acknowledges the griever’s need for connection in the present with the person who has died. In this way, we acknowledge that we now need to gather our loved ones into ourselves and carry them with us in our hearts.

We have to find a way to continue living without them, and this will involve change. Change takes time and energy. We need to be gentle with ourselves as we go through these changes. As we continue to heal, we carry the memories of our loved one’s touch, the sound of their voice and all the adventures we had together with us each day. As that speaker said so many years ago: “Change is a process, not an event.” 

The Healing Arts program provides grieving people with a creative outlet for their grief and is open to the community. Please see page 6 for dates and times of our virtual workshops. The program is made possible by a project support grant from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture. 
If you wish to make a donation to the Healing Arts program, go to  www.hospicewr.org and click “Donate Now”.

 

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