The following recipe was originally used at Olivia’s House – a grief and loss center for children in York, PA. I have expanded on the idea and use it to assist my younger clients as they process painful emotions related to grief and loss.
What You Need:
- 1 medium size clay pot
- large towel
- small hammer
- sharpie pen
- large sheet of paper
- glue gun/white glue
- acrylic paint
- a variety of objects: Pictures, words, silk flowers etc. to decorate exterior
Step 1: Break the pot.
Wrap the clay pot in towel to avoid flying shards of clay. Hold firmly in place on its side to break the pot with a hammer. You may have to tap it a few times. Ideally you want 8-10 broken pieces. Light pressure will suffice.
Gather broken pieces and place them (in any order) on a large sheet of paper.
Step 2: Label the broken fragments of the pot.
Ask the child to list 8-10 of the emotions they are currently feeling the most. Try to match the size of each shard in relation to the intensity of each feeling. For example, if the child says that his or her strongest emotion is fear, then label the largest fragment “fear.” Continue until all fragments are labeled with each of the feelings expressed by the child. Take your time with this step, because it is important. Talk about the difficulty of the loss and the various emotions that the child is currently feeling.
Ensure the labeled feelings are on the inner curved sections of the pot, because when you glue the pot back together, you want to see the words inside. (See attached picture.)
Step 3: Glue pieces back together
Hot glue the pot back together. This is not any easy process and is a metaphor for the rebuilding process after loss. This is a messy and sometimes complicated step, and the difficulty of reassembling can be discussed in relation to the child’s emotional rebuilding process. Also at this point, it is a good time to talk about the symbol of the glue. You may want to ask, “Who has helped glue your life back together?”
Allow glue to cool and dry.
Step 4: Decorate the exterior of the pot
Paint the exterior of the pot with acrylic paint and any variety of plastic flowers, healing words, inspirational phrases or pictures. The scrapbook isle of your local craft store is a good place to start for items. Use a glue gun or school glue for this step.
Step 5: Discussion
Talk about how life has changed since the loss, talk about how what steps the child has taken to put his or her life back together. Discuss the people who have helped and how and if they found hope, support and love. This process is completed over a series of days or weeks.
Each step is a contemplative process.
As therapists, we sometimes feel uncomfortable remaining in the shattered stages phase with our clients, and seek to move forward to the “making it better” or healing stage. This is a disservice to our clients, because we should allow each person to take their time and fully process their emotions.
Be gentle with yourself, with others, allow yourself and others to grieve fully and be patient as they open their heart to the next step.
Thank you Leslie Delp, Executive Director of Olivia’s House for everything you do to support grieving children and their families!
Thank you for being here.
Karen Stabley, Art Therapy (ATR)
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