The Richmond Register

Viewpoints

August 20, 2013

Hospice Care Plus begins shadow box workshops

RICHMOND — “Memories matter,” says Nora Brashear, Hospice Care Plus’s bereavement coordinator.

That’s why she jumped at the opportunity to host shadowbox workshops for people whose loved ones were served by Hospice.

The workshops are the brainchild of Hospice volunteer Joan Robinson.

When Brashear learned about it, she went to work finding the right supplies, donors, and people to help. They’ve dubbed the sessions “Shadowbox Making Memories Workshops.”

The workshops are possible by an anonymous donor who provides all the shadowboxes, which can be expensive.

Hospice’s staff and volunteers donate other supplies, such as scrapbooking paper, felt, glue, paper cutters, stencils, stickers, scissors and more odds and ends.

The staff also send out workshop fliers to caregivers and other family members of patients they’ve cared for, inviting them to attend.

“We’ve offered three so far,” said Brashear. “Joan brings her expertise and does a lot of instruction and troubleshooting, while I visit with participants and listen to the stories they tell about the objects they bring. The workshops have been a wonderful addition to our bereavement program. We are so grateful to Joan for taking it on and being the inspiration behind all of it.”

Part of what makes the workshops different than a grief support group, she says, is the more physical nature of the work.

“It’s the physical, tactile nature of it as a mourning activity that moves you along,” said Brashear. “The reason activities like this one are good is that you’re revisiting and preserving memories of your loved one. That’s very beneficial to the grieving process. It’s an act of mourning.”

Mourning, said Brashear, is “all the things we do to help us adjust to the finality of our loss.” In the case of the workshops, it’s the storytelling, remembering, and fellowship that seem to help the most.

The organization will continue to offer the shadowbox workshops to caregivers and family of patients it serves. Down the road, Brashear hopes she and Robinson can offer a larger-scale workshop open to the entire community.

“Watching these folks sit around a table and swap stories and memories — it’s just magical. The fact that they leave with a beautiful shadowbox is icing on the cake. I’d love to see this on a larger scale and have more people participate. Based on what I’ve seen at our first three workshops, it’s clear that we’re hungry to tell our stories,” Brashear said.

To learn more about Hospice Care Plus, visit hospicecp.org or call 859-986-1500.

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