We’re always boasting the health benefits of knitting like stress relief, meditation and arthritis prevention. But a few months ago, I discovered another health benefit of knitting: getting through grief.
There was a death in my family, and as I packed my bags to travel to the funeral, I almost didn’t include my in-progress sweater project. I’ll probably be too busy to knit, I thought. But then I thought about the car ride and late nights, and I decided I’d take it just in case I couldn’t sleep.
I’m so glad I did.
It seems frivolous or disrespectful to think about knitting when a family member has just passed, but knitting can actually be comforting for those of us who are grieving.
I pulled out my knitting at night, after most of the family was asleep. It was so nice to have that quiet moment at the end of a day spent talking to dozens and dozens of people. It was also a break from the sadness. When I was knitting, my brain was occupied. I was reading charts, counting stitches and focusing on the task. It felt almost like a distraction.
That meditative rhythm of knitting was also comforting. Feeling that repetitive motion as the yarn slipped through my fingers made my body and my mind relax. It was the perfect activity at a time when everything else seemed so unpredictable and dark. It’s a welcome break from the weight of sadness.
Perhaps knitting is also comforting during this time simply because it’s something that makes us happy.
When I finished the sweater project I was working on, there was an added bonus: every time I wear that sweater, I think of my family member. The project went from a simple sweater to a tribute that I’ll never forget.
I’m not the only knitter who has used knitting to get through grief or just a tough time. (Knitters always seem to be in good company, don’t we?) Ann Hood wrote a beautiful piece, Knitting Through Grief, for the Boston Globe detailing one particular difficult winter. Ann also wrote a book, The Knitting Circle, about a woman who joins a knitting group to heal after the death of her child.
Turner Houston shared details on the Lion Brand blog of how knitting, including knitting for charity, helped her cope with the death of her mother. A New York Times article by Jane E. Brody details not just knitting during grief, but also knitting to heal from disease and to help with addiction.
Knitting already means so much to all of us, so it’s only natural we’d turn to it in times of darkness.
That leads me to another benefit of knitting that ties in so well with grief: community. So many knitters have shared their stories on blogs and other sites so that we can not only help each other heal, but also understand the benefits of this craft we all love so much.
If you’re interested in reading more about knitting through hardship — whether it’s addiction, depression, grief, or a physical ailment — here are some sources, including a few that I mentioned above:
- Knitting Through Grief by Ann Hood
- Losing Mom: Knitting Through Grief by Turner Houston
- The Health Benefits of Knitting by Jane E. Brody
- Health Benefits of Crocheting and Knitting by Red Heart Yarn
- The Truth About Knitting and Crochet….They are Good for You! by the Craft Yarn Council of America
- Knitting Heaven and Earth: Healing the Heart with Craft by Susan Gordon Lydon
- The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood
Has knitting ever helped you get through a hardship? If you’re comfortable with it, we’d love it if you shared your story in the comments.