The essential changes in life.
Going through an abstract on a study done on ‘Healing Grief through Art’, I came across a lovely quote, “Healing from grief is not the process of forgetting, it is the process of remembering with less pain and more joy.” – Marie José Dhaese.
A friend recently lost her husband of 30yrs to a protracted bout of intestinal cancer that knocked the stuffing out of her, both emotionally and financially. A once cheerful mother, of two grown up boys now married and living on distant shores, she knew she couldn’t count on them for any support. Once the initial flurry of the wake and funeral was over, she gradually stopped receiving or returning calls, hardly left home, if ever, was sleeping excessively, and wasn’t eating right – all the classic symptoms of grief-induced depression. As one of her close friends, I was concerned, and through much ‘irritating intervention’, managed to get her to see a grief counselor.
The therapist, trained in art therapy, gradually introduced her to expressing herself through art. Professionals in the field of grief counseling have made vast inroads in using non-verbal therapeutic approaches such as drawing and guided visualization to deal with the emotional stress arising out of terminal illness and grief.
In one of the therapy sessions to which I was invited, I was made to understand that grief struck-individuals are faced with overwhelming feelings, and without proper support these intense feelings can lead to low self-esteem, depression, suicidal tendencies and/or physical illness. Exactly what I was concerned about!
It says a lot for the girl that she dug in her heels and settled into the routine of dealing with it all – selling off her old house and buying a much smaller single-bed condo that suited her just fine; making some smart investments that would tide her over in the coming years; enrolling for art classes; and deciding to move into a community where she had friends like me!
She’d decided on a garage sale to get rid of her considerable possessions, keeping only her most cherished ones, and since the condo was less than a quarter the size of her old place, she also made up her mind to furnish according to the style of the condo, which was part adobe. The place, though quite old, was completely refurbished to modern requirements. She was also happy to be in the heart of the Capitol Hill Neighborhood in Denver, which is home to many art galleries and communities.
As a budding artist, she had many ideas on how to elevate the stylistic appeal of this new abode. The place was tiny, only 900sqft of built-up space, the only bedroom and bathroom located up the dark but well-constructed wooden staircase, a miniscule powder room under the stairs, but the most interesting feature of this place is a wooden deck out back extending till the wooden fencing around the enclave.
Finding that she wouldn’t be flouting any community rules, she had the roof above her stairwell restructured to incorporate a snazzy skylight, which now made it look like ‘the stairway to heaven’! When one climbs up the newly polished stairs, it feels like you’re climbing up into the blues, or on a dull day, into the clouds!
Giving in to artistic inclinations.
Her primary concern was the summer heat. Both the porch and the skylight were east facing, and summer in Denver meant 88-90F. She’d brought a whole lot of potted plants that were her late husband’s passion, and that were crowded on her deck. Oops! Wrong phrase! Artistically arranged! And she didn’t want to lose them to the summer sun. So here’s what she did –
For her skylight, she chose Graber’s CrystalPleat Light Filtering Cellular Shades, as even when the shades were pulled down over the skylight, she’d have ample lighting for her staircase. It would also block heat being transferred into her little home, and she could do without having to cope with staggering energy bills in her new life! She could draw it open or shut with a convenient telescopic SkyPole – especially at night when she wanted to indulge in star gazing while perched on a step! Incidentally, she’d opted for the same in her living room; for the bedroom, she went with the blackout cellular shades variety, so she could sleep in when she wanted to, in spite of the early sunrise in summer. They would do equally well in winter as well, as cellular shades is THE best option for energy conservation, with high R-values.
But the best is for the last, always! She had 10% Exterior Solar Shades installed on the periphery of her deck, in an alabaster color that allowed them to blend with the outside walls. Also from Graber, who uses the acclaimed Phifer fabric in their construction. They would also reflect the summer sun efficiently yet provide the much-needed light and heat control for her plants to thrive. And these motorized shades were also wind sensor-enabled, to allow them to retract automatically on windy days! GreenGuard and Microban certified to make them a non-polluting option, protected from staining due to mold and mildew; she could water her plants without a care! And wait! She’d painted on them, so they resembled the Rocky Mountains with graffiti painted on!! It looked like a garden on the bottom of the Rockies! In the middle of cosmopolitan Denver! That’s art for you! I’m glad she’s healing – as they say, baby steps!