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  • bethhewett

On Mothers: Healing Art as a Tool for Grief

Mother's Day is a wonderful time to honor our mothers, those women who brought us into this world or who raised us. It’s a day that can honor grandmothers who’ve had a role in our lives, too. Set in the month of May, when flowers have come out and trees are full with leaves, it’s a beautiful day—unless:

  • Our mothers have died and we’re grieving their loss

  • We’re conflicted with or distanced from them

  • We never knew our birth mothers

  • We ourselves have lost a child or children to death

  • We want to become mothers and are unable to do so for whatever reasons

Sadly, there are all too many reasons that Mother’s Day can be hard in the way that many holidays are hard when we’re grieving losses. Painful losses can come from deaths and from multiple other causes. Sometimes we just don’t have the people we want in our lives or the relationships we most want or value.

I know. My mom died in August 2016, and I can hardly believe it’s been almost seven years. I truly think of her every day with an ache that I didn’t know existed. Mom could be a challenging woman to be with because her own earlier life had been so difficult. Frankly, sometimes she just wasn’t nice, and she was genuine to say she didn’t care if people knew that about her and naive enough to think everyone would understand her anyway. But those of us who loved her unconditionally (or who learned to love her) had the best of Mom and could laugh with her at the

worst of her—well, not all the time and not right away but usually, eventually she came around.

Mom was gifted, loved deeply, and she would protect and defend those she loved with a fierce, unflinching heart. As a younger woman, I sometimes hated that I loved her because I hated her—well, you get it. Mothers, right?

the author's collage on a playing card
My Art

So what do we do with a day that celebrates mothers but causes many pain? Rather than creating new greeting cards that recognize the disconnected relationship of mother and child losses, we might make our own cards to ourselves. I suggest coloring or painting a mandala (circle) or making a collage from photos or magazine pictures. The result doesn’t have to be perfect or beautiful or even what we might consider artistic in our mind’s eye (in my mind’s eye, I can draw a galloping horse across the sands of time; on my paper, my horse has stick legs and an

elephant-like nose). To prove that perfection isn’t needed, I’ve included a sample of my own little collage created on a “The Flash” playing card. This card isn’t meant to illustrate my relationship with my mother as I created it about a different loved one’s death, but I hope you get the point.

Healing art allows us to find meaning in our losses by revealing what we’re feeling or what we want to have. This personal card doesn’t have to be shown to anyone else, but it can be something to display if we want. By making such a card for ourselves, we can honor the true meaning of Mother’s Day in personalized, healing ways.

Even when it’s painful, Mother’s Day can invite us to rethink who we are, who we love, what we have, and what we want.

I wish you blessings and peace.


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