Art & Grief – The Broken Bowl Project


In searching for an art-based grief activity for one of my students who recently lost a parent, I stumbled across The Broken Bowl Project. This activity is extremely powerful, especially for a child who is passionate about art.


The session prior to when we started the activity, I explained the idea to my student — that we would be breaking a bowl, painting it, and putting it back together. I asked her how she thought this might relate to her life, and she was able to recognize that the bowl will represent how her life has been shattered and that she has to put it back together.

This student wanted me to help her paint the bowl, so I related that back to the meaning of the project by saying she doesn’t have to put herself back together all by herself, and we talked about her support systems.

She wanted to paint the inside with bright colors so that she can feel bright and vibrant on the inside again, and she decided to paint the outside silver and gold because she thought she had to be bright and shiny on the outside for everyone to see {even though she didn’t always feel bright and shiny}. All of these artistic decisions led to great conversations while we painted.

We took 2 sessions to paint the bowl, and during the third session, we put it back together. The student figured out how the pieces fit together, and I hot glued them. There were moments of frustration when a piece didn’t seem to fit or it didn’t fit quite the way it was supposed to, which of course is symbolic that her life will never fully be the same again, even if it is bright and wonderful. We processed the meaning behind the bowl each step of the way, and the student took the bowl home with her as a reminder of her journey.


I really liked this activity because it provided an interesting symbol for the student to relate to and it naturally brought up a lot of grief related topics while giving the student an external activity to focus on during talk therapy.


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