Learn to deal with grief at the Tapestries of Grief festival

SINGAPORE – Tapestries of Grief, Singapore’s premier festival about grief and loss, returns for a second edition from August 3 to September 25.

Themed ‘Together We Remember’, this year’s festival features more than 20 free events, ranging from art therapy and journaling workshops for grieving parents to discussions on managing virtual legacy of a loved one after his death.

The festival is organized by Grief Matters, a movement by social service agency Montfort Care to promote bereavement literacy to support those who are grieving.

Sessions will be led by experts in fields such as counselling, social work and creative arts.

Among them is Ms. Chee Wai Yee, Senior Director of Grievance Matters at Montfort Care, who will give an online talk titled Life After Caregiving: What’s Next?.

Held in English on August 11 and in Mandarin on August 12, it addresses the different grief reactions of bereaved caregivers and describes the challenges they may face in adjusting to life without the deceased.

Caregivers are expected to move on after the death of the people they cared for, Ms Chee says, but they might have mixed feelings ‘because they haven’t had a chance to reflect on what that life could be for them beyond caregiving”.

She adds, “When they’re not struggling to resist well-meaning messages from relatives and friends, they may have to invest their energy in rebuilding their social network, worrying about their financial security and their own health, and discover other goals of their life.

In her speech, Ms Chee will also provide suggestions on how to support a grieving carer. “It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Learn a few ways to manage your grief ‘in doses’ and restore other goals in life. It’s not an ‘all or nothing’ choice when it comes to grief,” she says.

On August 23, Dr. Alicia Pon, clinical consultant at PlayHeals Therapy, will talk about supporting siblings living with bereavement. PlayHeals offers counseling, coaching and psychotherapy services.

The English-language lecture will cover topics such as introducing children to the stages of childhood development and expressing grief, and learning playful and creative strategies to help children cope with loss.

According to Dr. Pon, younger children may not have the moral or cognitive capacity to understand and process the separation caused by death and its immediate or long-term consequences.

“In many cases, bereaved children show more intense, but more intermittent and brief emotional and behavioral expressions than an adult,” she says.

Parents and caregivers must learn to give the bereaved child space to grieve, she advises.

“Teaching children helpful coping methods to build resilience can give bereaved children clarity about their grief process, attitudes and behaviors and make them feel less alone,” adds Dr. Pon.

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