Shattered Bowl Project – Art Therapy for Grief

By Denise Brown, MA, ATR –  Expressive Therapist & Grief Support Specialist at Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care

What does a shattered bowl have to do with grief? Imagine that the shattered bowl represents your shattered heart or your shattered life. How will you put yourself back together after experiencing grief and loss?

When you try to piece your life together after a loss, art can help heal. Art gives these bits and pieces the attention they deserve and need. For a moment, you can sink into yourself. Memories, thoughts, and feelings get an opportunity to speak, to be heard, and to be felt. This is especially important for feelings you desperately struggle with. Each time you engage the process using art, you give yourself a break from pain. You give expression to feelings that go beyond talk therapy.

The bowl becomes a metaphor for your life after loss.  It will never be the same as before it broke, but it can still be useful and even beautiful.

Kansas City Hospice is offering a special three-part grief workshop including art therapy. You will use a ceramic bowl and other media to explore your personal experience with grief. You’ll also have opportunities to share with other participants.

Thursdays, August 15, 22, and 29 6:00 p.m.- 7: 30 p.m. at the Kansas City Hospice, Kansas Office, located at 10100 W. 87th Street, Suite 100, Overland Park, KS  66212.  Please register with Denise by August 8 at 913-894-8228. Suggested donation $10. View on Calendar.

A Similar Experience

Tammy McClelland discussed her experience with this type of exercise on her blog. “They gave each family a clay pot that we took outside and had to drop on the ground to break. This symbolized how our hearts, identity and even families break when we suffer a significant loss in our lives. I remember even the sound of the pot hitting the ground causing me to cringe.” She thought, ‘I know that sound…have felt it inside in my heart. I have seen it in my children…in Travis’ friends.’  We brought the pieces back inside and now we had to write on them.”

She continued, “On the pieces that curved inwards (the inside of the pot), we had to write words that described our grief, our loss, our pain. Symbolizing the things that we tend to keep inside and let no one see. On the pieces that curved outwards (the outside of the pot), we had to write the things that had given us support during our grief, our loss, our pain. After all the pieces were filled with writing, we had to reassemble the pot with glue, figuring out where each piece was supposed to be.”

“This activity was accompanied by many tears as it seemed to draw so much out of us emotionally even as we were putting our hands to something physical. At one point, as the final piece was placed, everyone in the family had their hands on the pot holding it together until the glue solidified. It impacted all of us in that moment, that it was going to take all of us…together as a family…to put this back together.”

Read Tammy’s complete blog post at Broken Pot.

Please join us!

Our broken bowl exercise will have some similarities to Tammy’s experience, but will be a unique way to work on grief issues in a creative way. So, we hope that you will join us!


The mission of Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care is to bring expert care, peace of mind, comfort, guidance, and hope to people who are affected by life-limiting illness or by grief. And, our vision is that each person in our community is valued from life through death and each family is supported in their grief.


  1. Karen on July 26, 2019 at 1:21 pm

    I wish I could join and do hope you offer this again! Unfortunately we just signed up for a different series that also runs on Thursday nights in August.

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