by Jacqui Lynskey and Catherina O’Sullivan
Jacqui Lynskey and her team at COPE Galway, which provides homelessness, domestic abuse, and senior support services, used their Seeds Grant to host a series of workshops to allow older people time to reflect upon and discuss how they managed bereavement.
Led by art therapist Catherina O’Sullivan, four workshops took place in January and February 2022. Activities included clay-making, mindfulness, breathing exercises, hand massage, and a technique called the butterfly hug.
With regards to bereavement, as Catherina told us:
“We created a space where people could talk and express themselves through art, through clay, about their grief process. It brought everything out of the mind down into some work that helped get it out through their hands. We don’t have control over death or grief or loss that comes into our life but we can start to gain control over how we manage ourselves. And even to learn how to use the clay, there was something powerful in that. I think when you realise you’re not alone in these feelings of grief, and it’s ok to share them, that was the power of it really.”
COPE Galway are hoping to run similar workshops in the future. They are also investigating setting up a bereavement support group.
COPE Galway provides support services for people living on the margins due to homelessness, domestic abuse etc. It was noted the majority older people using COPE have been affected by death during pandemic and death by suicide is generally very high in the community.