Sunday, June 21, 2009

Processing Grief Through Art: Drawing a Dying Loved One (Video 2:30 mins.)

Those of you who have grieved at the bedside of a dying loved one can probably recall the many streams of thoughts that confronted you. Grace Graupe Pillard experienced her own unique recollections while drawing pictures of her dying mother every time she visited her bedside.

Grace makes it clear that she and her mother had a rocky, but affectionate, relationship. Her mother, a refugee from Nazi Germany, was receiving hospice care at the time. While drawing, Grace began to experience her mother in an objective way for the first time. An intimacy evolved between them that she had not known before. Her mother knew she was being drawn. In spite of their turbulent differences, their similarities surfaced. In the last picture of this visual diary, her mother’s mouth is open.

After studying scanned pictures of her mother, Grace noticed clearly in the flow of the lines the different emotions she had felt while drawing. She says her artistic involvement in her mother’s dying helped her to process the grief of losing someone who was such an important part of her life. Grace created an exhibition of her drawings in a show titled “Stop Stealing My Face.”

This video showcases an interview with Grace Graupe Pillard and displays of her artwork.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
"Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes”
“Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog”


  1. Thank you for including my work. Your work is much appreciated.

  2. Beautiful. I just attended a Spiritual and Bereavement conference on Dementia care and one presentation included several self portraits by William Utermohlen who had dementia. Very captivating work, have you seen it?

  3. Thank you for sharing that information, Lynn. This video gives more details about world renown painter William Utermolen and his self-portraits recording his descent into Alzheimer's disease: