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grief activity

When a person we love desperately has died, we often are grieving so deeply that we feel little hope or promise of good things to ever come again. The pain can certainly be overwhelming. Life can lose joy and the possibilities of good.  The potential for healing seems overwhelming. Nobody likes staying here for too long. That’s not to say we should not feel those dark days of grief or deny our time of mourning. It is an essential part of healing for us all, despite its pain.

Remember, hope does remain through all these feelings. And we are called to hold a space, a sacred vessel, a container, for the hope for healing and the promise of joy, growth, new, yet unknown possibilities, and further life.

Often a good safe place to hold our grief including our hope is in our homes. Where better to let our inner selves do our authentic work? Go a step further, create your own container, or vessel to hold this hope and potential for healing and joys in the days ahead. Clay can often be a wonderful media for this grief activity as it takes any shape that we need it to. What shape will your container of hope be?

Make your own container of hope with these simple “Pinch Pot” directions:

    • Air-dry clay (play-doh, polymer clay like Sculpey brand, model magic, modelling clay, or earthen clay),
    • A bit of water
    • Paper towel
    • (Optional) sponge or wooden spoon


  1. Start with a ball of clay that fits comfortably in your palm. Hold it in your non-dominate hand. Get your other thumb ready!
  2. Push your thumb through the middle of the ball of clay until it is about a finger’s width from pushing through the clay.
  3. Turn the ball of clay in your hand while pushing outward with your thumb so the clay is about a finger’s width all the way around.
  4. Turn the ball of clay (now becoming the “pinch pot”) in your palm as you continue to push the clay out with your thumb and then switching to your fingers and into your thumb and other hand until it is the desired thickness and shape of bowl/container that feels right to you. Mind that you keep the top pushing inward so it does not flare too far outward, as it will tend to do that on its own.

NOTE: If the “pinch pot” container is too droopy (wet) or will not hold the shape you want, let it sit for a bit and firm up in the air. Then you can shape it better how you like it. It if is too dry (cracking or not wanting to take the shape you like) place a DAMP paper towel over it for a few minutes and it will become more pliable.

  1. You are almost finished!
    Take a little time to refine the rim/lip, outside and inside of the container with your finger, sponge, or damp paper towel. You can experiment with paddling outside of pot with back of the wooden spoon while supporting inside with your fingers.
    Try out textures: dry paper towel, fabric, flat of a fork, leaves or whatever tickles your fancy. Think about what textures and shape of the container will convey the emotions you are expressing.

NOTE: You can slightly flatten the bottom on the table or leave it rounded by drying the pinch pot upside down on its rim.

  1. Depending on the kind of clay you used, your container may need to dry in the air (model magic), be baked in your oven (sculpey-see package directions), or stay semi-hard forever (modelling clay), or be fired in a kiln (earthen clay).
  2. Once finished, find the perfect place in your home for your container of hope. You can place objects or small written/drawn messages to yourself or your deceased loved-one to remind yourself of good things to come and the possibilities of joy despite the pain of loss. Or even leave that inner space beautifully empty as a reminder that the Unknown has equal potential for good as sorrow.


I picked up Pandora’s jar. The spirit of Hope fluttered inside, trying to warm the cold container. “Hestia,” I said, “I give this to you as an offering.” The goddess tilted her head. “I am the least of the gods. Why would you trust me with this?” “You’re the last Olympian,” I said. “And the most important.” “And why is that, Percy Jackson?” “Because Hope survives best at the hearth,” I said. “Guard it for me, and I won’t be tempted to give up again.

—Rick Riordan


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