This project is designed to help family members realize that after a death, each person has different needs. Some are reacting to change and need assurance, others to tension and need a hug. Others are filled with longing for the loved one to return.
Before talking about the drawings, ask each child to complete the following open-ended statements about their picture. One at a time read aloud the fill-in-the-blank statements below. Write completed sentences on the back of the picture, or ask young children to tell you what to write.
The name of my picture is:I wish I could:If I could change one thing I would:Sometimes it seems like:Don't ever expect me to:What I need most today is:
After completing the sentences, tell your children that you hope they will share something about their drawing. Tell them that they can share whatever they want to share, and suggest they begin by reading the sentences that summarize the picture.
If children agree to share, ask who will go first and begin the process taking turns. If children are reluctant to share you may share your drawing first. Read the sentences on the back of your picture. Model a brief show and tell so they learn that sharing even a little is okay. Then ask if they have questions about your drawing. Continue taking turns.
After each family member shares his thoughts, ask if it would be okay for family members to share their reflections about the drawing. If this is okay, take the first turn and model appropriate, uncritical reflections. It is important not to comment about the quality of a picture but to focus on its content. For example: "Martha, I noticed you are very tiny in the picture." "Sam, I noticed you used only the black crayon today." (Words for all to avoid: nice, good, pretty, beautiful, ugly, dumb, etc.)
You can promote continuing discussion by sharing a story about the deceased that is of interest to all family members. Sharing tangible reminders, letters written in the past or special possessions can inspire reflection. Closing with a favorite poem, meditation or prayer can help make a comfortable ending.
Read more about this project.
Art Exercises© Jeanne D. Ritterson 1998