The death of a baby brings profound sorrow, the depth of which can exist beyond words.
Throughout pregnancy, mothers are primed to nurture and protect their babies. A relationship has been formed. A future has been imagined. A woman’s identity has been changed.
When a baby dies, mothers can feel heartbroken, lost, empty, isolated. Bereaved mums can anticipate future milestones with trepidation, commonly wanting to hide away from the world.
They can feel that healing is impossible and that no one really understands what they are going through - except other bereaved parents.
Bereaved mothers often seek outlets to express their grief, share their grief, and mourn their much-wanted babies.
Anne Riggs is an artist whose PhD explored art practice for healing grief, loss and trauma. Anne developed Art for Soothing & Strengthening. She facilitates art-making for bereaved groups of people, clustered according to their specific shared experiences.
I spoke with Anne about her Bereaved Mothers Art Groups. “I run two Bereaved Mothers Art Groups. One group works with clay, and the other with mosaic. Each medium represents aspects of women’s grief in different ways. Clay is earthy and smooth. The stroking of the clay can feel like skin. The moulding is soft and gentle. The piece each woman creates can be about her grief, her hopes, her memories – the expressions are endless.
Mosaic on the other hand is a more brittle medium. There is cutting of tiles and crockery and a re-forming of the ‘broken’ into something beautiful - a meaningful piece that commemorates the woman’s loss. Both art forms provide women with something to take away and keep forever.”
Along with the creative expression, is the shared experience with other bereaved mothers. In these small groups, there is a deep knowing, an implicit connectedness – whether women choose to openly share their experience in the group, or not. A community is formed, and ongoing bonds can emerge.
In her gentle, affirming way, Anne guides and encourages each woman to draw out her creative expression. She takes care to provide a soothing environment in her garden studio – an environment that fosters nurturing and healing.
For further information on Anne Riggs and upcoming groups please visit www.anneriggs.com
To book a Bereaved Mothers Art Group
Written by Dr Renée Miller