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Coloring through grief’s grayness

Coloured pencils in a mason jar

Coloring, drawing and painting can help people channel and process many of the complicated emotions they face when someone they love dies.

Coloring may have once been regarded as an activity just for kids, but in recent years, a wealth of coloring books for grown ups have been published. Coloring is regarded as a meditative pursuit that is great for emotional wellbeing.

Coloring a picture of a heart

Crossroads Hospice says arts and crafts activities can help children to communicate feelings that they cannot convey in words and express themselves in a way that’s free from judgement. Adults, too, can benefit from creative activities as a form of alternative grief therapy, to help identify, explore and work through their feelings.

“The time and focus that adult coloring takes,” says counselor Dr Nikki Martinez, “helps the individual remove the focus from the negative issues and habits, and focus them in a safe and productive way.”

Here are 10 coloring books for the bereaved that have been created for both adults and children. They may help you or someone you love, as you cope with grief after the death of someone significant in your life.

The Lonely Tree

Bright crayons for a bereavement coloring book

Based on a picture book about grief for children by author and illustrator Nicholas Halliday, this coloring book for bereaved children tells the story of an evergreen tree mourning the death of an old oak.

Remembering Dad

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This is the first bereavement coloring book by artist Nami Nakamura, who drew as a form of grief therapy after her dad's death.

She says she was inspired to put together the coloring book for other grown ups who are grieving, to help them cope with their grief and express feelings loss and love for their father.

Butterfly Wings

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Methodist Deacon Rev. Penny Stemley created this coloring book for grieving children. As adults, she says, it’s difficult enough to deal with grief and loss.

Her coloring book for bereaved children is a story of faith, hope, and love, with a spiritual take she hopes may potentially bring them to a place of peace and comfort.

Bereavement and Grief

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This colouring book for grown ups who are grieving by JC Grace, has 14 pages focused on different phases of grief.

It also includes a three-month grief work journal, helping people who are bereaved to channel and process their thoughts.

Colors of Loss and Healing

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Author Deborah S. Dermen Ph.D witnessed the death of her parents in a plane crash and was bereaved again when her husband and father of her very young children died.

Today she is an experienced bereavement counselor and in this adult
coloring book for getting through tough times, she provides guidance and quiet, contemplative activity through grieving and towards healing.

How I Feel

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Dr Alan Wolfelt is the renowned educator and grief expert behind America’s Center for Loss. In this coloring book for bereaved children, he helps grieving kids explore the emotions they can feel and witness other people express in unfamiliar ways.

The accompanying text puts some of those feelings into simple words.

My Grief Journey

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This is a coloring book for grieving parents. Together with husband Dave, author Laura Diehl is the founder of Christian ministry-based outreach project, Grieving Parents Sharing Hope, which the death of their daughter, Becca, inspired.

Each coloring page expresses an emotion and features a scroll for you to add your own thoughts, alongside a Bible verse chosen by Laura, who has also produced a children’s version of this coloring book.

Coloring the Shades of Grief and Healing

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This coloring books for grieving teens and young adults who have lost a loved one, is inspired by spiritual author Lyn Ragan’s belief that coloring can be a meditative pursuit, which can help channel the mind towards a healing path.

It features 32 pages of intricate illustrations to color.

Coping With Grief

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This bereavement coloring book by Danette Simmons was designed to help young children start the healing process, after a loved one has died.

It explains in simple words what death is and how we can learn to cope with the loss of someone who has died. This activity book for grieving children is a recommended resource for hospice staff, bereavement counselors and teachers, as well as parents.

Hannah Bear

Bright crayons for a bereavement coloring book

This coloring book for bereaved kids explains what grief is and how it can feel.

Author Lindsey Jonkhoff-Rogers is a funeral director based in New Orleans who has been praised for her community outreach. Her Hannah Bear coloring book for children grieving a death in the family, was the winner of the Selected Independent Funeral Homes Best Practices Competition in 2015.

Discover more about the different ways of understanding grief and the grieving process and coping with bereavement in our Help & Resources pages.

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