The Art of Woven Letters – In Mourning

woven letterHello.  Today I am sharing about a paper weaving technique as a way to mourn for the death of a loved one. I am very much mourning lately, since my mom died four months ago.  Did you know there is a difference between grief and mourning?  Grief is an emotion. Mourning is actually doing something to symbolize the grief and taking time to express it. The idea here is not to stuff and bury your feelings, but to process and honor yourself and your loved ones.

Here is my own letter to my mom that I finished writing and then weaving, just a little bit ago:woven letter

(If you need more ideas on how to mourn, I have plenty of ideas since my mom died, just ask me in the comments to share some.)

How to weave a letter :

First, you write a letter of goodbye to your dead loved one, on black paper to show how sad and devastated you feel. Then you cut parallel slits into the black letter. Then you weave other pieces of paper into the slits, in and out, to create a quilt-like pattern. At the same time you can weave write, draw, and decorate it with items that helps you to experience and remember your loved one with.  I wove in feathers and added sparklies on mine. Then glue it to an art board.

So let you tell me about my own letter: 

Mom and IreneThree weeks ago, I wrote seven versions of this good bye letter to my mom, until I really got to my feelings that I loved her deeply and that she was my best friend.

I brought my goodbye letter to the mourning daughters group, to complete our woven letters in a little circle together. We’ve all lost parents and we meet regularly.  We mourn whenever anyone lets us to mourn, we mourn when there are candles lit, we mourn sipping  orange spice tea and sharing stories and photos of our loved ones. We understand one another more than I could ever imagine.  Anyways…

When I was weaving my letter, the feathers reminded  me of my Mom’s softness and her kindness.  They reminded me that her hands were small and delicate, like little birds. She was just a little bird in the end, under a hundred pounds, speaking as soft as a little wind, as the disease had taken its toll.

I put the bright flower paper into the work, as mom loved bright orange flowers, and was a great gardener, back in her healthy days.

I drew flames on the edges, because she lay dying under the threat of being evacuated because the Sonoma Forest fires were so close. It will be forever ingrained in my mind that  a few miles away, the whole city was shut down and fires creeping nearer, and  I would drive towards it, not away, to go see my mom, and sit by her quietly in her bed,  in the natural light of the window, as she lay sleep talking to angels.  I think that the forest fires just hurried up her death.  In any case, I included a few flames in the borders.

How do I feel after making this art letter? Nice.  Underneath all her seriousness, it reminds me that Mom had a lighter side to her and she had a silly sense of humor too, and how I loved to make her smile. I would work hard to make her smile at times.

Here are some of the other art letters that my friends made on the same night, for their lost parents:

Woven letter green

woven letter orange


4 thoughts on “The Art of Woven Letters – In Mourning

  1. Thanks for posting, Irene. The quilt letters are a comforting way to express our inner feelings about our parent’s death. We’ll have those words and images with us forever.

    • Thanks Renee. In light of the current world epidemic, it is okay to slow down and to grieve for your losses; In this one way you can also talk to your loved ones. I believe they hear us in heaven. Do you think so too?

  2. Hi Irene!

    I happened to peruse your blog today and learned about your mom’s passing. Your art project to mourn her physical loss is beautiful. I can imagine it was very healing to honor your mom this way. I lost my mom almost 5 years ago…I also felt she was my best friend. Sending you prayers for peace and comfort.

    • Marisa, what an honor to hear from you today. I am sorry for the loss of your Mom as well. I have found art to be very healing in almost all traumas in life. Did you create any art or collect special things more intentionally in your mom’s honor?

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