Conversations in Grief Blog: Humpty Dumpty
By: Laura Wessels
Kintsugi is the Japanese art of “something beautiful made from something broken.” In this art form, “cracked pots were fixed by filling the broken areas...with powdered gold, platinum, or silver.” Their thinking is that the “shattering and restoration” is part of the cracked pot’s history, something to be honored and celebrated instead of something to be hidden.
The bereaved would agree. According to Grief Counselor Alan Wolfelt, bereavement means “to be torn apart.” A widow shared that she was like Humpty Dumpty. She had fallen apart and was putting herself back together with cracks and missing pieces that left gaping holes.
In Morning Joe, Rainbow’s weekly grief support group, the bereaved reflect on how the death of their loved one has left them permanently damaged. A widower observed that the hole in his heart was in the shape of his wife. Responses from other group members were as follows:
"I feel like half of me is missing."
"My identity is warped."
"Not all hole wounds have to heal."
The bereaved are living examples of Kintsugi. One grieving person discovered some words that captured how he was feeling and then he said, “It just broke my heart.” I imagined his broken heart seared with thick seams of gold. His heart was broken when his person died. The gold seams signal how well and deeply he had been loved by his partner. The gold seams signal that he continues to love his partner who has died.
This is beautiful. His grief is beautiful. Those gold seams are beautiful rather than ugly. There is “beauty in imperfection.” A Kintsugi artist explains, “Gold highlights the fracture, an important part of its history.” Grief is an important part of the history of the person who died because the expression of grief keeps their memory alive. Grief is an important part of the people who are left behind. Their loss has changed them.
Just as Kintsugi is beautiful, the bereaved have described themselves as beautiful, “We are broken in a way that doesn’t need to be fixed...We are beautifully broken.”
Check out Kintsugi - Explore the Beautiful Art of Japanese Broken Pottery (artincontext.org) for more information on the art of Kintsugi. Credit to this link for the Kintsugi information in my blog.
For those reading this who are grieving a precious loved one, how does this resonate with you? How do you feel beautifully broken? Or are you experiencing your grief as ugly instead of beautiful?