I used crafts to heal from my mother’s death from cancer and the agonizing months watching her deteriorate from the strong, attractive woman I saw my entire life into a total stranger. It was difficult to have so many memories of her suffering, and these daily visuals haunted me throughout the day and night.
For example, at one point, she was bleeding internally and looked just like someone in full makeup from a scene from the movie “Beetlejuice”, including lips covered in black from the dried blood. Images like that are very hard to erase. And when they are happening to someone you love, it also becomes traumatizing.
How I coped
So, while my mom was dying from the end stages of the disease, I colorized black and white photos of her, both as a little girl and as a new bride, bringing her back to her past when she was in her happiest days, free from any illness or pain. The act of coloring was actually an act of lovingly stroking my mother’s face, hair, etc, as well as a way for me to erase the reality of what I saw each time I visited her in hospice.
After she passed, I also created a memory box that included one of those photos plus miniature items I crafted representing the things my mother loved to do. Unfortunately, that box was lost so I do not have a reference photo of it to share.
It was not so much the object, however, as it was the act of creating the components for the memory box that helped me heal from the pain. It was as if I was making things right, erasing her pain as I stroked on the color that gave back life to the black and white photos. Creating items uniquely representing what she loved the most also brought honor to her life and served as a process of reflection on all that we had shared.
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