Holistic Wellness – drumming and the healing process after a loss

People who have experienced the loss of a loved one need to take care of their well-being.  Holistic wellness encompasses not just physical health, but also mental and emotional health.

Unfortunately, loss seems to be pretty much all around us these days.  And we need a lot of tools in our toolbox when learning to cope after a loss.  Drumming was one of those tools at a recent bereavement camp for children and youth through Haven Hospice.

Holistic wellness during times of grief

Actually, they held two camps – one in Orange Park and one in Gainesville.  At each camp, the kids got to experience a variety of fun activities designed to take them through the grief and coping process.  Activities included:

  • “Grief Gator” and “Sad Shark” pinatas
  • A “worry box” where they could write down their worries and anxieties
  • Therapeutic play time outdoors among nature
  • A therapeutic miniature horse named Magic to whom the kids could tell their secrets
  • A therapeutic drum circle, of course!

The camp organizers did an amazing job creating a day for the kids to process their grief in a way that made sense to them – through art, rhythm, candy, nature, animals, or writing.  Some activities were social and some were introspective.  Some were active, and others were more passive.

The drum circle

Our drum circle was a bit of both sides.  Kids (and volunteers and staff) had the chance to play the name of a loved one on their drum and explain why that person was special to them.  Then we pictured ourselves transforming from caterpillars to butterflies.

Next, everyone learned to make up their own rhythms on the drums, focusing on the theme of transformation.  Kids got to lead the group or simply stand in the middle of the circle and hear the support of the whole group wash over them.

And at the end, we added in some hand percussion instruments (shakers, bells, wood blocks) to create a relaxing soundscape together.

How does it help?

It’s good to approach the healing process with a variety of tools depending on your personality and mood state.  Studies show drumming can help work through grief because it facilitates bonding and group support.  Also, it helps release those feel-good hormones that boost your mood.  And, the mindfulness component of drumming requires you to be present the whole time.  This allows you to put aside your worries temporarily, so that you’ll be better prepared to deal with life’s challenges afterward.

Would you or your organization benefit from a therapeutic drumming experience?  We’d love to hear from you.

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