Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mural Work

I came across a great example of instrumental grief just now. Instrumental grievers emphasize grief as "thinking your way through it." They tend to problem-solve and take action, for instance, running a marathon or building a memorial. The flipside of instrumental grief is intuitive grief. Intuitive grief emphasizes "being" over "doing." It is feelings-based. Originally, instrumental grief was seen as a more masculine response, while intuitive grief was the feminine response. However, it is healthiest to have a balance between the two. The following story is about a mural (memorializing) that honors a widow's husband.

Regina Holliday began creating a mural protesting the healthcare system 6 days after her husband Fred died. She and Fred both believed the system failed him in his fight against kidney cancer. "It's a wonderful therapy and relief to get to paint," said Holliday. "To get to do this has been a wonderful dialog with the public. I mean, people often come over here. They look at the mural. They want to talk about it and they often share their health stories."

The note in Fred's hand states "Go after them, Regina, Love, Fred." Symbolism in the mural includes a clock with no hands (normal time seems suspended in a health emergency), a nurse at a computer with the dark screen (records not shared with patients), and a doctor with her hands tied (miscommunication in the healthcare system). No matter what you may think about healthcare legislation, there is no denying Holliday's voice or her husband's story.

Holliday is done with memorializing for now as the weather turns cold but the article notes that she could take her paints out again in the spring. I think this mural is a powerful response to the loss of her husband but it's just one step on the grief journey. I wish her well.

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