Hospice Yukon is hosting a Quiet Day Retreat, a day of remembering loved ones through writing, painting, collage or simple reflection.

On Sunday, April 7 participants are provided with space to reflect in their own way and at their own pace, says co-facilitator Brandon Murdoch, a volunteer with Hospice Yukon in Whitehorse.

Murdoch, who has always used art as a way to process her own life, didn’t know how therapeutic art was until she enrolled in the Art Therapy diploma program in Nelson B.C.

“I was happy doing it, and it felt good,” she says. “I had no idea it was therapy. I was expressing my life through art.”

To Murdoch, creating art is cathartic.

“There are a lot of things our unconscious mind lets out in art,” she says.

On the day of the retreat participants will gather at the hospice, an inviting little house on Jarvis Street, and introduce themselves to the other participants and the two facilitators.

The group setting brings people together with a common experience, although there is no pressure to talk about the grief.

“The creative expression gives them the opportunity to do it without words,” Murdoch says. “We’re giving them the time to acknowledge their grief and honour their losses.”

Because it is a tiny space, the group will be limited to eight participants. Names are all that is needed, and participants are afforded a great deal of personal freedom.

“It’s not about fitting in with what everyone else is doing,” Murdoch explains. “It’s really about honouring where they are.”

Participants will be guided through a meditation and then supported in establishing a comfortable space to work in the colourful setting of the hospice.

Art supplies such as pens, pencils, paints and papers are available, but participants are encouraged to do what they wish with the time.

“It’s really about the process instead of the product,” Murdoch says. “Some will just sit amongst everyone else who is working and read books.”

To encourage participants to focus on themselves and their healing process they are discouraged from commenting on each other’s art.

“It’s a part of your own mind and we discourage the discussion because there’s really strong feelings connected to it so it may shut (some people) down,” Murdoch says.

Throughout the day participants are free to work or take a walk at their own leisure.

At 3 p.m. it will be time to debrief, and the participants can decide if they want to share their work.

“It can be as simple as holding up what they have created and putting it away,” Murdoch says.

The Quiet Day Retreat: Expressions of Grief is a free event taking place at Hospice Yukon from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 7. Lunch will be provided.

To register call 667-7429.

Hospice Yukon has been providing compassionate support to those living with loss since 1989. For more information go to www.HospiceYukon.net

Jaclyn Killins is a writer, retired treeplanter, and mom

who lives in a cabin near Whitehorse. Her family recently splurged on running water.