| NEWTOWN, Conn./NEW YORK, Dec. 1
NEWTOWN, Conn./NEW YORK, Dec. 1 When 6-year-old
Ana Marquez-Greene was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary
School massacre almost a year ago, her father, a professional
jazz musician, stopped playing his saxophone.
When he could bring himself to pick it up again a month
later, Jimmy Greene felt his emotional wounds start to heal and,
within months, he recorded an album celebrating his daughter's
life. It is one of several works of art that have risen from the
depths of loss and grief at Newtown.
Creative expression helps express the unspeakable - shock,
loss, sorrow - when other means fail, experts say.
For some Newtown residents, the arts have provided a way to
go on with their lives after the death of their loved ones when
a young gunman killed 20 children and six adults at the school
on Dec. 14, 2012.
The parents of 6-year-old Emilie Parker, a first-grader who
died along with her classmates, created the Emilie Parker Art
Connection to support community and school arts programs.
Children who survived the shooting recorded a charity single
of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," with the help of former new
wave band Talking Heads members Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth,
who live nearby.
Local composer Julie Lyonn Lieberman wrote a "Newtown Peace
Anthem" for young string players.
Greene, who has recorded nine solo albums and played with
jazz stars including Harry Connick, Jr., and Freddie Hubbard,
and also teaches music at Western Connecticut State University,
said his spirits improved after he resumed playing his horn.
"I picked up my instrument one day and felt much better. I
felt like I was myself," Greene said. "I realized that music is
a big part of who I am and the more I played, the more like
myself I felt. In the time I didn't play, I kind of lost sense
of myself in a way.
"Music is what I've always done," he said. "It just
naturally follows that music would be in times of joy, in times
of grief, in times of whatever. Music is a way of expression."
Greene said he created his new album "Beautiful Life" with
his 9-year-old son in mind as well as his daughter. Isaiah was
also at Sandy Hook the day of the shooting but was not injured.
"I don't pretend to know what perspective he will put this
in 10 years from now," his father said. "But what I do hope is
that he realizes that 'You know what? My Mom and Dad, they
worked very hard to honor my sister.'"
Greene said he hopes his album will be released early next
"I feel very blessed to have music as a means of
expression," he said. "It is helpful in ways dealing with the
grief and the loss, the pain and the sadness that I deal with
TAPPING DEEP EMOTIONS
Art can help people grapple with grief because it taps
emotions that are beyond language, as does deep tragedy, said
Donna Schuurman, executive director of The Dougy Center, a
Portland, Oregon, support service that focuses on grieving
"Real grief is deeper than words. It screams, it cries, it's
from the soul, from the gut," Schuurman said. "Art can touch
people and help them feel without having to make it be words."
Other Newtown families found healing in words. Scarlett
Lewis, the mother of shooting victim Jesse Lewis, 6, has written
a book: "Nurturing, Healing, Love; A Mother's Journey of Hope
"My journal chronicled a journey of trying to turn a tragedy
into something that can help heal myself, others, and even
possibly the world," she wrote on Facebook.
Outside of Newtown, survivors of other tragedies have turned
to art as well.
The Lulu & Leo Fund, which raises funds for children's arts
education, was started by Marina and Kevin Krim, parents of a
2-year-old boy and 6-year-old girl who were stabbed to death in
New York City last year. The family's nanny has been charged
with their murders.
The Lily Sarah Grace Foundation was founded by Matthew
Badger to support the arts in underfunded public elementary
Badger's three daughters, 9-year-old Lily and 7-year-old
twins Sarah and Grace, died in a house fire in Connecticut on
Christmas Day 2011.
Grief expert Robert Zucker, author of "The Journey Through
Grief and Loss," said creative expression may serve to fill a
human need to find meaning in life, especially in
extraordinarily painful times.
He pointed to the story of the Terezin concentration camp,
where noted musicians, composers and artists were sent during
World War II. They secretly created art and music and managed to
pass it on to children at the camp, fewer than 200 of whom
"In extraordinary times when we are disarmed by our
circumstances and probably at some level lose a sense of reason
or meaning and are searching for some way of understanding our
lives, the arts lend themselves to that struggle that we find
ourselves in," Zucker said.
(Editing by Scott Malone and Gunna Dickson)