Tuesday, October 4, 2016

A Bit About My Other (Non-Writing) Project

In early 2013, I had a loss, one that was devastating to me.

Through the years, I've dealt with many blows: two divorces, two bankruptcies, loss of a home where I thought I'd live out my days, loss of my vehicle, homelessness, ill health, etc. But this loss struck hard.

At the time, Joliet Area Community Hospice had called and asked if I'd be interested in writing a story about its art therapy program for The Herald-News, as the bereavement department was finding it difficult to convince clients that this wasn't about crayons and craft time. And the clients that had used it really didn't want to talk about the programs advantages to them.

Well, I became that client.

The loss occurred when I had no way to pay for the services, but I couldn't function and keep what was left of home and hearth together without it. For anyone that knows JACH, services are free to anyone who cannot afford them, but I am not a person who takes and walks away.

One trait about me is that when I begin a project, I thoroughly delve into it. I've learned through the years not everyone is like this. It's hard to do the hard work when it comes to healing, but, unfortunately, the only way to light is a horrible journey through the dark passages.

So I did. The result, is some phenomenal art, not art in the sense of "artwork," but art that has significant clinical value. This is not my pronouncement, but that of the counselors in the department.

So after spending nearly a year in the program, I began working with the bereavement staff to take some of that art and turn it into a form useful for the JACH bereavement department. As we began the process, The Sun Times sold The Herald-News, Shaw Media purchased it, and I became the newspaper's features editor.

My family was still at a low financial point during this time and work on the project was slow and uneven. But we finally completed it this summer.

The result is three little purse-sized books that take clients on a visual journey from grief to hope. The images within are extremely raw and show a side of me no one has ever met. My name is not on them, as they are meant to be personal without being personalized. They are not available commercially, but only to JACH, although JACH has mentioned it might, perhaps, make them available to other hospice organizations, too. The bereavement department would like every client that walks through JACH's doors to receive copies.

At a time when I literally could not pay for my own help except through my own grief, I'm humbled beyond words.

So I am now actively raising funds to offset the purchase of these books. I will make not profit on them because, again, they are not available for purchase. Yesterday, I received my first substantial donation for hospice, which makes the fruition of this long journey both surreal and satisfying on so many levels.

If you know anyone that would like to contribute to this, please message me at bryonyseries@gmail.com

Or people can send donations directly to Joliet Area Community Hospice and reference "art therapy books." Here's the link: http://www.joliethospice.org/index.html.

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