In this video, hear from Kathy Rambo, organizer of TCF’s Crafty Corner, as she shares TCF has changed her life. She describes how the therapeutic benefits using her hands to create crafts has helped her after the loss of her son, Jason.
Kathy supports The Compassionate Friends because of the positive impact that TCF has had on her life. Please join Kathy in giving a gift to support all our grieving families during this season when our grief is even harder to cope with.
As Kathy shares, crafts provide a way to express thoughts and emotions that you may not have words for. Has crafting helped you with your grief? If so, we’d love to hear how it has helped you. Please share in the comments below.
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Hello TCF! After losing my daughter and only child, I was devastated and ill. As I worked with my therapist on ways to relive some of my trauma symptoms, I began crafting more. I always loved decorating, crafting and being creative, but did not have the time to devote to it fully. The trauma forced me to “make time” and dive into working with my hands. I purchased additional items to up my crafting game and keep me learning and engaged/distracted for short periods. Those short periods became longer periods in which my therapist and I termed spending time out of the cloud. The grief is with us daily and consumes our every being when a child is lost. Therefore, this time out of the cloud became healing for me. My depression and grief also caused me to have a very different outlook. What and who were I going to make crafts for? What would I do with these items I would make? Since I had an excellent therapist, she knew how to tap into what would serve me well. Knowing that if I did not have a cause, I may not continue crafting. I decided to craft and make items to benefit a cause in my daughter’s name. I make items, list them for sale and all proceeds go to “Keisha’s Closet” which is the Dress for Success program named in my daughter’s honor. I am actively involved in the Dress for Success program nationwide now.
I shared my crafting and the research of crafting for emotional health with Dress for Success Worldwide in a class for women in the program. My research and presentation shared how crafting support our emotional health. “When we are involved in (creativity), we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life,” Csikszentmihalyi said during a TED talk in 2004. “You know that what you need to do is possible to do, even though difficult, and sense of time disappears. You forget yourself. You feel part of something larger.” Our nervous system is only capable of processing a certain amount of information at a time, he explains. That’s why you can’t listen and understand two people who are talking to you at once. So when someone starts creating, his existence outside that activity becomes “temporarily suspended.” Although my crafting and hobby has elevated and I do have the moments out of the cloud, the darkness and rain of why is still very present! I shared my story of crafting with the women and explained how crafting can temporarily assist with balancing life challenges and work. During this time with the Dress for Success class, we made a project together to get them started with crafting. The “Crafting with Carla” session is never something I imagined doing, however, because the Dress for Success program was very important to my daughter, it helps me live out her light and mission of service to others. She was a dedicated advocate for the program before she died, thus the Kansas City Dress for Success was named in her honor “Keisha’s Closet.” For me the class and crafting was twofold, sharing how crafting has helped me emotionally and can help them balance work/life along with serving the population that my daughter loved and living out her legacy. Of course this was a step by step process for me of just trying to climb out of the cloud for a minute to finding meaning and purpose on this journey of child loss.
After my son passed I couldnt wirk because i was so depressed. Even with medication I would sit found nothing or sleep. I had to make myself fo SOMETHING. So, thru my therapist’s encouragement, I asked family and friends for their left over yarn. I started crocheting using all of the yarns. Crocheted Crocheted Crocheted. I ended up with a colorful aftgan. Then continued finding more things to do. Keeping my mind occupied with other things besides my son helped me cope and become more functional again. I’ve made flowers from water bottles, painted rocks, painted pictures, made cactus from foam, etc. It really helps!
Hello,My name is Marlene and we lost our son in 2021. Months after I lost my 90 year old mother during COVID lockdown. As I navigate in the grieving process , the idea of creating Mandala art came to me . Cleaning out my moms attic I found a sack of old 45 records. My son was a want to be musician and took me to a vintage record shop to see if these we of value? No not really but maybe we could do something with them ? Little did I realize months later this journey would be a memory with my son. I am a retired urban art teacher and creating fro recycling was a must with our budget. On a particular sadden day ,the idea of therapy and art hit me. I began to crest Mandela art on theses revitalized 45 records. This began as gifts but I was accepted in a local gallery gift shop .. crafting does give you the mindfulness to navigate the grief. The process of grief is on going but the emotional journey is lessened but the act of crafting. Thank you for sharing. Marlene
I’m really not much of a crafter; however, some members from our chapter went to a retreat in WI and we painted stones with our children’s and grandchildren’s names on them, another time it was birdhouses, or even just colored in adult coloring books. While doing this we chatted with each other about our loved ones gone too soon…we laughed…we cried…we were each other’s intent listening ears..and it felt so good as we talked to feel the stone in our hand and simply use our hands to paint and our mouths/lips to talk with others who understood and cared and fully listened as we told our stories or just talked about other things. The love and comradery in the room as we created something while we were fully into each other was the most therapeutic thing I had done for myself, so comforting, no need to explain our tears or our laughter or ourselves at all…fully accepted no matter how we felt or what our stories were. Whenever I need that feeling of peace, I do something with my hands that requires little thought…just focus on Nina and Christopher. Thanks so much, Kathy Rambos <3
My “crafting outlet” is gardening. After the death of my only biological son (he was 30), “thinking” was and is my worst enemy! I have always been a gardening person, but even more now. The first year after his passing, I could barely get up and make to work…no desire to garden, therefore I lost alot of plants. However, by the grace of God, gardening now gets me thru my darkest days. I love the outdoors and when feeling anger and mad, I can really break up the ground for planting!! I often cry, pray alot and living in the country, I have been known to scream really loud. Yes, after 13 years, my gardens are my best therapy.
Before Christmas of 2021, I decided to make beaded lanyards for a couple of coworkers for gifts. I found beading to be very relaxing and continued making jewelry sporadically. Then came my son’s death in February of 2022, and suddenly the beading became therapy. I’ve made lanyards, chokers, bracelets, earrings, watchbands, eyeglass holders. They are pretty and they sparkle and they remind me that there is still color and beauty in the world even on cold, grey miserable days.
I have also identified 3 key strategies that I need to help process this grief in a healthy way, and creating something every day is one of those strategies (the other 2 are: accomplish something, no matter how small and; do things for other people). So creating and crafting right now are literally lifesaving.
Hello! My name is Margaret Monti and after the death of our son John-Carlo, I didn’t know if I could ever put my life back together and start a new chapter without him. I was told by a dear friend that after the tears, go where you find yourself smile and your heart feels content. (Some days I didn’t think the tears would ever end.) I noticed immediately that I was able to find peace every time I gardened in our yard. Tending the soil and plants set my mind free from pain. Three plus years into the grief process, I created a garden that is a beautiful place that honors him. I feel he is with me and inspiring me to create beauty in our world.
I began volunteering in an Urban Forest, planting and caring for native trees and creating butterfly gardens. This form of arts and crafts is messy but rewarding and a spiritual necessity for me. I always feel that these projects would make my son proud. And I love the volunteers who work on this project.
I also started quilting with the help and encouragement of my sister. Planning, designing and sewing quilts lets me focus less on the pain of grief and more on creating something beautiful. I joined a quilt guild in my town and have found a wonderful group of fun and talented women who make charity quilts for others in addition to their own projects. Quilting is great therapy too. My son’s friends are getting married and though it is too difficult to attend their weddings, my spirits are lifted as I make quilts for their wedding presents. I have found great joy in sewing quilts and will try some new crafts in the future to explore other creative ways to embrace life again.
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