The Art of Creative Mourning with Lisa Gillespie

I am so very excited to welcome artist Lisa Gillespie here on Saturday, February 27th, 2021 for our therapeutic art program! I had previously scheduled this program last year but had to cancel it. Lisa is a compassionate and talented artist who has a gentle way of helping others discover their creative side. This art program is for everyone-the person who sees themselves as creative and artistic and those who don’t feel artistic at all! We have chosen an art project that will be enjoyable and meaningful for people of all skill levels. With Lisa’s guidance we will be making beautiful memorial shadow boxes. I will supply some art materials but we ask that you bring a shadow box, photo or two and any items or mementos that symbolize your loved one. To learn more about Lisa please see her bio below. Visit to register for this program.

Lisa Gillespie

Artist and ASID Certified Interior Designer

Lisa Gillespie is an artist, interior designer and former professional chef with decades of design and art experience. A native to Charles County Maryland, she is a graduate of Towson University, and The Culinary School of Washington and continued her graduate level education at the Maryland institute College of Art in Baltimore and The Boston Architectural College in Massachusetts. In addition, she has studied art and design abroad at The American University in Paris. She is ASID Certified interior designer and principal of her own design business; Lisa Gillespie Designs and owner of The Treasure Nest, a vintage furniture and décor business.
Lisa moved back to Maryland in 2005 and was recently married to her wonderful husband Jim and is the proud mother of a beautiful teenage daughter Olivia.

Grief: The Elephant in the Room

The Elephant in the Room Flyer2 PRINT

On Friday, January 17, 2020 I am facilitating a grief program called The Elephant in the Room. This is for anyone who is helping a grieving friend or family member. If you are struggling with how to best support someone who is grieving, this program will provide some tools to help you. Walking alongside someone who is grieving can be very intimidating and emotional. Learning some practical ways to be supportive as well as knowing the things to say or not to say can help ease the stress of a very important role. Many times grieving people will tell me that if it wasn’t for a specific friend or family member then they wouldn’t have made it through some of their darkest days. On the flip side, I have heard some very hurtful things that people have said or done (a lot of times unknowingly) to someone in need of support.

Before I became well acquainted with grief through my own personal and professional experience, I remember fumbling around to find the right words to say to someone grieving. Or sometimes I wouldn’t know what to say so I simply……just didn’t say anything at all. While it’s impossible to take away another person’s pain, there are some things that can be done to soften it or provide comfort. Simply being present and not offering unsolicited advice is one of the most important things you can do.

If you are already helping someone through the grieving process or if you would like to learn some skills to feel more confident consider joining us this Friday. To register just follow the link here on my website and fill out the registration form and I will be in touch. There is no fee and this program is open to anyone!


Can I Just Skip the Holidays This Year?

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Well? Do you feel like skipping the holidays this year? Do you even have the option to skip the holidays or do you have obligations that have to be fulfilled? For the past 3 years I have offered this holiday grief program. I remember trying to think of a title that would capture how I felt throughout my grief journey. Although it’s a long title, “Can I Just Skip the Holidays This Year?,” seemed to encompass how many people feel at this time of the year. The holiday season can be challenging anyway even if you aren’t grieving! There are so many expectations, plans to make, details to remember….If you are grieving then you know that everyday can be tough to get through but the holiday season can magnify our loss. What once was meaningful and magical about the holidays may now seem painful and empty without your loved one.

So what do you do about it? There’s a lot of advice out there-go on a vacation and experience Christmas somewhere else, make new memories by starting new traditions, disengage from the festivities so that you don’t have to be around other people, don’t decorate or put up a Christmas tree. None of these are right or wrong, it’s truly all about what is best for you. Sometimes blending some of these ideas will work better for you and sometimes what worked this year isn’t what helps next year. You have the right to make that choice, to switch things up or to keep the same traditions that you’ve practiced for years. The first year without our son Brogan was very difficult as our older son wanted to stick with the tradition of choosing and cutting down our Christmas tree as we had always done. My husband and I could not even think about that (we were definitely in the “let’s skip Christmas mode”) but we didn’t want to let our son down so we compromised with an artificial tree. Hanging ornaments that were Brogan’s and had special meaning was really tough so we bought some new ornaments and decorated the tree with a mixture of old and new. By the second year we were able to add some of Brogan’s special ornaments and we started a new tradition of picking out an ornament in his memory. If you have other family members to consider it is important to talk about what works for everyone.

Please feel free to share what has worked for you. If you would like more information on how to survive this holiday season, registration is open for my holiday grief program on Friday, December 13th at 6:00 pm. Just go to the Register tab on my website. If you have any questions or need more information, I can be reached at 240-298-2442 or

Isn’t mourning the same thing as grief?

close up of tea light candle against black background
Photo by George Becker on

In our culture, we use grief and mourning interchangeably. There’s quite a big difference between the two! According to Dr. Alan Wolfelt at the Center for Loss and Life Transition, grief is “the constellation of internal thoughts and feelings we have when someone we love dies.” Mourning is when “you take the grief you have on the inside and express it outside of yourself. Another way of defining mourning is grief gone public.” Many times people ask me what they can do to help with their grief. Mourning is actually something that someone can do to help process and release tough emotions. It can be something like a daily or weekly ritual or something as spontaneous as a visit to the cemetery or lighting a candle. As a grief and loss counselor, although I love my work doing individual/family counseling. I also love to introduce people to the many ways that grief can be expressed through mourning activities or experiences.

Throughout the year I offer various workshops and groups that invite people to experience different ways to mourn. Last year I held a shadowbox workshop (The Art of Creative Mourning) where people brought in photos, mementos and special possessions of their loved one and they arranged them in shadowboxes. This was a very meaningful activity as people reminisced and shared about the items they brought as they created a beautiful memorial to their loved one. I have also offered a Mindfulness for Grief and Loss program as well as Forest Therapy. This coming Friday, November 22nd I am hosting a Make and Take Greenery Workshop with the help of local designer and artist Lisa Gillespie. We will create fresh greenery arrangements to take home and use as centerpieces or as mailbox or headstone covers. My hope is that through this mourning activity, people will have an opportunity to be able to honor their loved ones as they create something that brings meaning and remembering. I believe that mourning experiences are always available to us, we just have to be open and receptive to trying different ways to connect. As an example, some people like to journal and some do not but it’s important to be curious about the different ways that you can express mourning. Watching old videos, looking at pictures, creating art, writing, telling stories, participating in a ritual or simply crying can all be ways to mourn. If you have found something that has particularly helped you mourn, please share it here if you would like. If you would like to register for the Greenery Workshop just follow the Register link on my website or contact me at 240-298-2442 or The last day to register is this Wednesday, November 20th.

Make and Take Greenery Workshop


Join us on Friday, November 22nd at 6:30 pm for this special workshop. We are fortunate to have local artist and designer Lisa Gillespie here to guide us in creating a unique arrangement made from fresh local greens. You can chose to make a centerpiece or saddle style arrangement which will fit over a mailbox or headstone. Click on the Register tab for registration and payment.