Healing Arts
Alternative Therapies > Memorial Henna Designs

By Kara L.C. Jones
KotaPress Editor

My interest in henna art came to full fruition when some friends henna'd me as part of a Day of the Dead ceremony. That day, I learned that grief and beauty can be present in the same moment, that the invisible and tangible can be equally powerful. And I took that experience into my own henna practice.

In wanting to share that experience with other bereaved parents, I created something I call Memorial Henna Designs. These are just normal designs like you might see in any henna salon, but we might add to them so they also show the child's name, his/her date of birth and death. Or we may not do that, but just create the beautiful design with the intention of transformation.

For instance, I once henna'd a bereaved mom who felt very cut off from life. Since her child died, she felt alone, like no one in her everyday life understood her invisible parenthood. So we created a beautiful design with the intention of shifting, of transforming something, so that she could begin to come out of the isolation.

In the week after she first got her design, she went to a coffee shop and someone commented on how beautiful the design was. She felt brave in the moment and said it was a memorial henna design. Of course a conversation ensued, and she soon discovered the other person was also a bereaved parent. By acknowledging grief and beauty in the same moment, she began to transform her isloation into reconnection.

THAT is the kind of henna I like doing!

There are a couple of articles:

So I offer the idea that henna art could be used as one alternative therapy tool along the path of grief and transformation. You may find that some henna artists are not interested in this kind of work as it takes longer session time and can be emotionally intense. But it's the kind of work I've very interested in seeing happen more and more in the henna world. So if you happen to be in WA state or might want to set up a destination henna event, let me know! I'd be glad to make a memorial henna session happen whenever possible!

About the Author

Kara has been using poetry and other expressive arts tools on the grief journey since the death of her son in 1999. Her poetic and non-fiction works have been included in publications such as New Works Review, PoetsWest, Real Henna, Shared Heart Foundation's "Meant To Be", LightHearts Publication's "Soul Trek", MISSing Angels Newsletter, American Tanka, Mother Tongue Ink's We'Moon, Honored Babies, Cup of Comfort series, and more. She is a Carnegie Mellon graduate who co-founded KotaPress with her husband Hawk Jones. She is currently in an apprenticeship working toward Master level of Reiki. And she founded where she is exploring the ancient art of henna and its uses for ritual and healing.

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