The Story of the Creative Healing Collective
I moved to Brooklyn from upstate New York two months after my mother passed away. I moved here because I was committed to the Jewish practice of saying the Mourner’s Kaddish. With no job, no friends and no idea what my plans were, this prayer was my anchor, my life raft, my way of dealing with Death.
After 1 month of waking up at 6:30 AM, obsessing over appropriate attire for services, arriving at the synagogue early out of fear of missing the prayer, sneaking into the men’s section to grab a chair for one, waiting for the Rabbi to give me the signal that the prayer was coming up, having difficulty saying the prayer fast enough, feeling shame if my voice was too loud, and wondering what it would be like if I had been born an Orthodox man, I met Meirav Ong, who would become my dear friend, co-founder and soul sister.
I was no longer alone in the women’s section, no longer alone in my loss. Meirav was my age and she too had lost her mother. We both found ourselves pulled towards saying this prayer no matter the obstacles.
Eleven months and a day after my mom died, I stopped saying this prayer. Although for months it provided me with a structured time to remember my mother and be in community, I wasn’t processing my feelings and I wasn’t connecting to others who shared my experience. So even though according to Jewish Law, I was done grieving, according to my feelings, I had only just begun.
It wasn’t until my duty to recite this prayer was over when the death of my mother began to cause me pain in such a way that it impacted my daily life. My anchor was gone. I was now thrown back into the world. I did not have a career, and I was not in school. The blankness of my canvas stared me straight in the face.
When we loose someone we love, we also loose a part of who we are. This is one of the hardest but also most meaningful parts of the grieving process: reconstructing a sense of self in a world that seems to no longer make sense.
I began to dance, write, draw, sing, hike etc. I re-discovered what activities brought me joy and helped me connect to myself, to my new self.
In the midst of these creative moments - moments when my most authentic self would shine brightest, an avalanche of feelings would sweep over me. I felt alive. I felt how the loss of my mother impacted my body and my mind and how it influenced my behaviors and my perception of others and of myself. These activities left me feeling lighter, happier and more grounded in my new reality. I didn’t realize it, but I had been living in a fog - a heavy and deep fog that wasn’t allowing me to make decisions from a place of joy rather from a place of fear. Instead of living, I was focused on surviving.
We started the Creative Healing Collective (CHC) so that grievers, like us, could move from a place of survival to a place of living.
CHC provides a space for ALL people to process the loss of loved ones in creative ways, amongst a community of people with shared experiences. CHC gives grievers the chance to rediscover who they are and what they want as they develop the skills to cope with their grief and allow it to change their lives for the better.
Welcome to the grieving club where unfortunately everyone has a lifetime membership because grief has no end.
PS. For more information about what we do, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!