Grieving As a Process
We are grieving as a nation. From school shootings to scandals, news headlines often cause great heaviness in our spirits. Whether we're reacting to a national crisis or a familial loss, Jesus promises to be with us, God Emmanuel, and to love and accept us as we are, regardless of tangled emotions and unpredictable grief. Additionally, Jesus promises that new life and resurrection will come.
Yet the process of grieving and healing is involved, complex, messy. Many turn to art, which also holds these attributes, as a powerful way of working through and expressing feelings that are difficult to articulate.
New Book: My Favorite Color is Blue. Sometimes
Enter Roger Hutchison's new book, My Favorite Color is Blue. Sometimes. After the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting in Connecticut, Hutchison had the privilege of painting with child witnesses as a means of working through their grief. He then felt called to use his writing and art to help others in their grieving. His new book is a fruit of that calling. Hutchison's words and paintings complement each other beautifully, creating a space where a myriad of juxtaposed feelings are validated.
While blue represents sweet blueberries, a joyful sky, or ocean waves, Hutchison writes that blue is also:
"A rainstorm. The storm is inside of me. I am angry. I am sad. My heart is hurting."
These honest, vulnerable words are printed on a blue page with a blue abstract painting of Hutchison's facing them, inviting the reader to enter into the painting--and their own depth of feeling. What is blue to them?
Next, red: love. And anger. It is the complex combination of intensely loving someone and simultaneously raging that they are no longer here. Then purple, the mix of blue and red together, representing quiet memories replaying. Hutchison continues through a broad color palate, skillfully using the colorful paintings and simple, honest language to allow, invite, and receive all stages of grief. This journey is one of healing for any reader.
Hutchison uses art as a wide avenue to follow Jesus' lead: to see each individual where he/she is at, be with them there, and then invite them into a unique processes of healing. His is a book worthy of any child's bookshelf.
Engaging Grief With Children: 10 Ideas
At the end of Blue is My Favoritie Color. Sometimes you'll find lists of grief resources for children, as well as adults. In addition, there are over 20 family-friendly ideas for remembering and celebrating the life of a loved one. He is a selection of the ideas:
- Draw a picture of their smiling face.
- Write a story about something you loved doing with them.
- Plant a tree in their memory.
- Throw a party and play the music that they loved.
- Celebrate their life through a worship service or vigil.
- Establish a scholarship fund in their memory.
- Go on a photography walk and take pictures of things that remind you of your loved one.
- Share a bouquet of flowers with someone who is sick or lonely.
- Spend time with your family or friends...laugh, cry, and share stories.
- Be kind to yourself.
More Books of Grief
In addition to Hutchison's book, Paraclete Press offers other resources listed below for those who are grieving or supporting others who are.
Mercy: Life in the Season of Dying by Peter Roebbelen
What would you do with your life, if you knew it was going to end soon? Mercy is a pastor's recording of the life lessons he's discovered as a result of sitting at the bedsides of courageous people facing death's certainty. Peter Roebbelen explores the gifts that people have given him, the wisdom that he's gleaned from them, almost as if he's been the one being counseled, rather than the other way around. This joyful and instructive book will encourage anyone who reads it to live to the fullest in the present, and to love the people around them as never before.
When It Feels Impossible to Pray: Prayers for the Grieving by Thomas McPherson
This little book can be your entry to talking with God — with and without words — in this most difficult time. For those who have experienced a sudden and terrible loss, it is important to realize that you don’t have to do the things one normally associates with prayer to actually be connecting with God in a way that’s prayer-like. Just sit still, if you like. Grieving people often find themselves doing a lot of sitting still. Stunned. Allow yourself a time to be quiet, to answer to no one, to accomplish nothing at all. Quietness in itself is where prayerfulness begins. “In the end prayer’s essence is simply this: We need to open ourselves to God in such a way that we are capable of hearing God say to us, individually, ‘I love you!’” —Ronald Rolheiser
This Child of Faith by Sophronia Scott
Culturally relevant, thoughtfully written, and humbly offered, Sophfronia Scott's new book offers readers a vulnerable and poignant view of her family's faith journey. Perfect for parents and ministry leaders alike, Scott's goals of keeping an open mind, being willing to learn, and trusting God will resonate with anyone who is trying to encourage children in their faith journeys while still grappling with their own questions of faith. Scott resolves, "Trust that what you need, whether it be people, words, or encouragement, will show up for you when you need it most...The spiritual journey is neither straight nor perfect. But we are on it. And we walk it together. May you have the strength, faith, love, and hope to take up the path with your children."(p.xii)
Scott's son Tain also has a voice in this tale: each chapter offers him a section to recount his feelings along his faith journey. Among these are reflections on first trying out church, taking a Jesus doll with him into surgery, sharing his faith at school, being present for the Sandy Hook elementary school shootings, and losing his God-brother in that tragedy.
Bruised and Wounded: Struggling to Understand Suicide by Ronald Rolheiser
The New York Times bestselling author of The Holy Longing turns his attention to one of the stigmas of our time, in a book that talks about a new way of understanding death by suicide with chapters on:
- Removing the Taboo
- Despair as Weakness rather than Sin
- Reclaiming the Memory of our Loved One
Reclaiming Life: Faith, Hope, and Suicide Loss
A 90-minute documentary DVD with Kay Warren, Marjorie Antus, and Ron Rolheiser
Alexis Chin is a Christian educator who specializes in designing arts-integrated curriculum that gives students the opportunity to meaningfully connect their real lives and God's word. She partners with churches to create interactive children's programs and can be reached at alexiskruza.wordpress.com.