How to process grief as an adult: When my father died, on the plane journey home to the UK from Canada, I crocheted a shawl for my mother. It was the ultimate self-soothing activity and exactly what I needed.
As outlined in the article, "6 Ways Working on a Crochet Project can help you deal with grief", crochet offers opportunities to process grief in many of the ways that therapists recommend:
- It's calming and meditative. As Amanda Woodbury notes in an article from Happily Hooked called "How Crochet Solves Your Stress Problems in 20 minutes"
"Crocheting a simple item produces “forced meditation” which helps with stress relief. It doesn’t work with just any level of crochet, but it works really well with beginner-level projects like dishcloths, small blankets, and scarves. Any pattern that calls for easy, basic stitches with memory-friendly repeats will do. It’s the repetitive motion that soothes the mind."
- It occupies your thinking mind and lets you just be present. It's important to give yourself time when you're grieving but what do you do with that time? Grief is often lonely, and crochet gives you a soothing activity to do during alone time, rescuing you from an overactive, thinking mind
- It's future oriented. Although crochet helps prevent you from becoming trapped into maladaptive over-thinking, there is something inherently positive about creating something that will be enjoyed and used in happier times to come
- As I found when crocheting the shawl for my mother during the flight home for my father's funeral, the act of creation, in and of itself, somehow serves to memorialize the person you love and miss
- Crochet connects you with others. Whether it's discussing yarn options or patterns, sharing your works in progress and admiring others' finished projects, crochet prevents us from becoming isolated in so many ways, big and small
- Doing good. This is obviously the case when we make gifts for friends or donate handmade items. But even when we make things for ourselves we have the potential to do good by supporting:
- small businesses like local yarn stores and independent yarn dyers
- environmentally sustainable fibre production
- women-owned cooperatives like Manos del Uruguay
In March 2022, Deb enrolled in my crochet program,"The Relaxed Creative: Master mindful crochet and enjoy therapeutic crafting anytime, anywhere and every day". Her biggest challenge at the time she enrolled was transitioning from the stress and worry of being a sole caregiver to mourning the loss of her mother. Throughout it all she has been a model participant, and was kind enough to share with me recently how comforting it has been to learn mindful crochet:
"Last month I turned 65. It has been a very stressful time in my life.
I've always enjoyed the creative, relaxing and meditative process of knitting for many years. When I was a teenager I was taught a few basic crochet stitches by a friend but never to read a crochet pattern. Once I learned to knit as a young adult I never crochet.
I was at a crossroads in my life with my mother dying when Handknit informed me about Deanne's relaxation crochet program. I felt it was time to learn a new skill from the beginning. Her program gives you an excellent foundation and support, all in the relaxing atmosphere of your home on your own time. The online course is unique from any other course I have experienced. It has proven to be a valuable investment of my time and money.
Remotely you can access the class video and learn when it is convenient for you. The classes are 2 weeks apart so you have ample opportunity to learn and practice between each class. Weekly there are support Q and A sessions but you can always post to a closed community that are taking her classes. The best part is you have access to the recorded classes so you can sit down and rewatch as many times as you need. It is like having Deanne beside you helping along the way.
Deanne is calming and supportive. She has been teaching crochet for years. She is able to present the information you need and repeats the instructions. When you send her pictures of your work she can immediately see where you need assistance. She is amazing. She sets you up for success. In the few months I've been in the program I feel calmer and more confident in my life and crocheting.
Crochet and knitting are complementary. Now I can look at crochet patterns and I don't feel intimidated. It has opened up a whole new world of possible crochet projects and I will be able to add crochet to my knitting projects.
Crochet is easier than knitting. There are no stitches to worry about dropping. You only use one hook. You use more yarn than knitting but the stitches are plumper and the fabric grows more quickly. I'm still actively using my hands to create but using different muscle movements.
I'm about half way through the course but I don't want it to end. I've really enjoyed her program. The program has taught me that crochet is relaxing, rewarding, creative and a skill to help manage anxiety and stress in real life."