The Art Of Loss

Free monthly painting events provide brief respite from grief

Grief is an emotional process experienced following the death of someone close. It is a natural response to lossthat manifests itself in five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, although they don’t occur in that order for all people.

Nina Guiglotto knows something about grief. She’s a family services counseling manager with Lohman Funeral Homes, which operates six locations throughout Volusia and Flagler counties. Nina helps individuals who have lost loved ones or are facing a loss. She has established a creative way to encourage people going through the grieving process.

“We host free Painting With a Twist events on the third Sunday of every month at one of our funeral homes,” Nina elaborates. “The events are called Coping With Colors. Whether grieving over a loss or caring for a terminal loved one, painting helps people express themselves and cope with whatever they’re going through.

“I invite people we’ve worked with on pre-arrangements, funerals and cemetery placements. Instead of a grief counseling group, this is a type of grief therapy. The participants come together with others in the same situation. They spend time in a judgement-free zone where they can relax and forget about their troubles.”

Participants in Coping With Colors include, from left: Katherine Bourne Brown, Angela Moody McKay and Brooke Yancey.

Every month, Nina selects a painting for the event, along with a Painting With a Twist artist. When the participants arrive, everything is set up: canvases, easels and paints.

“There’s a sample of what we’re painting on everyone’s seat as well as in the funeral home, so the participants can view that,” Nina describes. “The instructor walks them through the painting process step by step, starting with the background then adding the colors. By the end of the event, which lasts about two hours, they have a completed painting.

“When people are painting, the only thing they’re thinking about is following the directions from the artist and concentrating on their artwork. If they’re sad and grieving or caring for a loved one, and that’s always on their mind, the exercise provides a respite from their concerns. While they’re painting, their mind is able to just focus on the picture.”

The Color Purple

Angela Moody McKay has attended multiple Coping With Colors events at Lohman Funeral Homes. Nina initially invited Angela and her mother following the death of Angela’s grandmother.

“The event was very helpful,” Angela reports. “It was good to not see the funeral home as a negative place. And it was good to remember when we were there for Grandmamma.

“But March 2 marked two years since my 25-year-old daughter-in-law passed away from cancer. I’ve gone to Lohman’s events several times thinking about her. It is very healing being around other people who have had a similar experience and been through what you’ve gone through. I try to incorporate my daughter-in-law’s favorite color, which is purple, into all my paintings.”

Angela’s grandmother was up in years when she passed away. She lived a long, full life. It wasn’t that difficult for Angela to return to Lohman Funeral Homes – where her grandmother’s service was held – to participate in the Coping With Colors events.

“After my daughter-in-law, however, those events were up and down roller coasters for me,” Angela admits. “She was only 25, and she left behind my two grandbabies, who at the time were 31⁄2 and 11⁄2 years old. Every day was very hard, so at first I’d go to the event, and I would tear up just being there.

“After a few times, it wasn’t as difficult for me. Now, I can talk about my daughter-in-law without my emotions being on my sleeve. Before, I would talk about her to the other people, and I would just well up and either start crying or be close to crying. Now, I’m so much better. It’s still hard to talk about, but I can do it and not cry.” �

© FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo Photo courtesy of Lohman Funeral Homes


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