Sacred Memories: Creative Art Therapy for Children in Grief
This paper explores the creative opportunities children might have to attend to their emotions and feelings following the death of a parent, grandparent or close friend. It presents the position that often children are left out of the process of caring for an adult when they are terminally ill and that has long term psychological implications. It also suggests that this has antecedents for the white New Zealand culture that were noted historically. Hospice palliative care services in New Zealand identify the need to be proactive in their holistic care for the family when a person is dying and this care must include the family which invariably includes children. In this research the author describes a personal journey that has shaped her current work as a hospice practice manager. She has chosen to highlight a neglected aspect in services in New Zealand. The writer explores literature in psychological aspects of removing children from the dying room, creative therapies and the importance of sacred memories for the living child to be enfolded in through their life. The need to create memory that will embrace the child as a cloak enfolds them in their crisis stimulated the writer to offer a text in the personal narrative form. This text is presented in this form to enable other clinicians to access their own memories as survivors of grief in their own families. Through enabling children and family to explore the importance of relating in the palliative phase of a person’s life journey it is suggested that doors open that build good memories for the survivors. I regard my specific form of interest as pursuing the idea of building memory creative ‘corners’ and fun experiences for children at my work. The reasons why such an experience would be beneficial now and in the future for children and their families will be the focus for conducting my literature research. Children were important in the final days of her father’s life. He directed the family to accept the roles he saw would be theirs. Memories became their treasures.