Expressing myself through art

Parent Jodie Cooper explains how creating artwork helped her express feelings about the loss of her son Jaxon. 

I was a little apprehensive when I was invited to attend a coffee morning for bereaved mums. It was something I wanted to do, but making the leap was hard.

I didn’t know how I would feel being there and how I would feel walking away.  As silly as it sounds, I was worried that the wall I had built to cope and deal with everyday life would tumble down and I would end up a crazy mess.

Our morning turned into a whole day and I ended up walking away relieved. Not only did I get to talk about our son but for the first time in a long time, I felt like I was not alone and I did not have to wear a happy “normal” mask. I didn’t have to wonder how I would answer the dreaded question of how many children do you have and how old are they. I could honestly tell people.

We were a group that had lost children: only weeks ago, months ago and years ago. It was sad hearing others stories but also comforting. We went with some photos thinking we would be making a scrapbook page, but walked away with a piece of art that we were able to put so much into.

We had a story about the tree of life, everything from the roots to the branches had a meaning.

Tracey from our local scrapbook store gave up her time to show us what to do but in the end I felt like she did so much more. She was easy to talk to and had so much empathy but at the same time didn’t show us pity.

She let us talk and also helped us express what we wanted though the paints and embellishments. It took a lot of layers of paint and ink to build up our background, different textures and colour. That in itself I found calming and the perfect way to feel comfortable to talk and sit back and listed to others.

Choosing what embellishments to add to my tree, I went from my normal self, wanting to make things look “good” and “perfect,” to something that held lots of meaning.  I almost felt I was pouring everything of our Jaxon into it.

Walking away I was mentally exhausted and my heart was broken, as the women I had met all had to say goodbye to their children way too early. But I also came away feeling like something had lifted. For the first time in a while I did not feel alone. I didn’t have to pretend; if I wanted to shed a tear I could. They knew how I was feeling and that I was okay.