Lately, my mind has been wandering; wondering what it would be like to attend my 40th high school reunion, and whether it would be fun or feel like torture. Meanwhile our fall Young Adult Bereavement Art Group (YABAG) was advancing in fits and starts and now has finally fallen into a rhythm, much as leaves progress into their rich autumn colors.
Sometimes it takes a while for a group to coalesce, like the leaves of particular trees turning at different times. In a group where participants have suffered devastating loss (all loss is devastating, but some circumstances can bring additional trauma to the bereaved), people need time to make sense of their lives going forward.
My colleague and I wondered what was going on; perhaps it was how we were leading the group, but we reminded ourselves we’d done this many times before with the same curriculum and it had worked.
As if to remind us of this, two thick cardboard envelopes arrived in the campus mail, one addressed to me and the other to my colleague. I can’t tell you if he ripped his envelope open, but had I been there when they arrived, I would have!
Inside the brown husk of wrapper lay the fruit of our labors for the last year; a copy of Cathy Malchiodi’s edited and recently published book: Art Therapy and Healthcare, containing our chapter on the young adult bereavement art group. When I saw the cover, a richly colored oil pastel nautilus drawn by Cathy, I felt such a swelling of pride; as if some unspoken, barely imagined dream had come to pass.
I’ve had a chance to cozy up with it and I’m looking forward to reading through the many chapters written by art therapists across the country and world. I’m reminded of a colored construction paper banner that hung in my public library as a child. The letters read: “Come, journey with a book.” I know I will.