The creativity of grief…
“At the deepest level, the creative process and the healing process arise from a single source. When you are an artist, you are a healer; A wordless trust of the same mystery is the foundation of your work and its integrity.”
~ Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen
Creative Grieving Techniques Through Art
Using art for healing….
Aaahh! The earthy aroma of clay… the scratchy feel of crow quill pen on paper… the happy anticipation of planning a new watercolor painting. Art has been a source of much happiness and satisfaction for me since childhood.
Okay, so I did eventually attend college-level art courses, and I did sell a couple of my paintings over the years. But I am not a professional artist. I found that the most soul-satisfying emotional release for me came during the MAKING of the art, the creative process, and not from the final results!
And I also have to say that the times when I found the most comfort and solace from doing artwork was during the bad times in my life, including times of grief. So I wanted to share with you through this website how healing artwork has helped me, and can also help you through your own griefwork.
“But I’m not an artist!”, you might say. Well, all the better. You won’t have any preconceived notions of how to create or rules of design to follow. You’ll more easily “create from your soul” than a trained graphic artist will.
It doesn’t matter if your creations are simple stick-figure drawings, or colorful and intricate abstracts, or even realistic landscapes. The value of healing artwork for you is in the doing, not the final product.
In other words, it doesn’t matter what your drawing looks like if you benefited by creating it. This is such a liberating way to look at the creative arts. And you’ll be surprised at how good it feels, once you get started. Just remember… the goal is not to make great art, but to express yourself greatly.
In this section of our website, we’ll teach you how to:
- “Draw out” your emotions, with pencil, pastels, and ink
- Discover the fluid and vivid world of painting
- Find awesome 3D stress relief through sculpturing
- Craft a “grief mask,” a direct window to your soul
- Turn your lost loved one’s clothing into a comforting memory quilt
- Build an altar or memory box to reconnect with your lost one
- Tribute Scrapbooking for family grief therapy
- Start your private “Grief Journal”
Why Do We Create Art?
If you ever studied fine arts in school, you probably know that artists have used their art to express human despair, find meaning in life, and transcend their own emotional struggles. Just walk through any art museum, or leaf through a glossy text showing the classics, and you’ll soon find that human suffering has inspired some of our greatest artworks.
Why? In making art, we all, including the masters, have found relief from fears, anxiety, and depression, and found new meaning in life through artistic expression.
Does this all sound a little lofty and snobbish to you? Well, try to bring the whole concept of art down to your level. Make a place for it in your own life.
Art is for everyone! Each of us possesses our own special talents and creative gifts and have the right to explore them.
Creating artwork following a tragic loss can be very therapeutic, helping you to express and release your own painful, stressful emotions. Accessing these emotions is not always easy by talking, by using words. You may try to talk it all out, get it off your chest, yell and scream out in your anger and grief. But in the end, the feelings still sit there.
Why? Because your left brain’s verbal language is limited in its vocabulary, leaving your true emotions literally unexpressed. To access and release your real feelings, you have to use the right brain’s language of imagery… through artwork. Open your mind to this and you will find much comfort in your artwork.
One other artistic outlet you might find comfort in… do you like to take pictures? Explore photographic options for grief expression. This activity can be enormously comforting and provide an interesting diversion for your grief.
7 Ways Healing Artwork Can Help You
- Creative arts can help you express emotions that are very hard to put into words. As one grieving artist put it: ” The most emotional connection I have to the arts is knowing that “they” are always there for me. I am able to create at any time, whether 10 in the morning or 10 at night… the comfort of knowing that creativity is all around me each and every day… whether it be cooking a great meal, dancing in the living room to my favorite song, solving a problem at work or in my personal life, or sculpting clay”.
- Art allows you to express extreme emotions of anger and pain in a safe manner. Art is safe, and cannot hurt you. No matter how disturbing you may think your project appears, it is much healthier for you to put in out there in a concrete manner than to keep it bottled up inside.
- Art gives you a feeling of empowerment, capability, and freedom that your grief tragedy may have robbed from you.
- Art reinforces for you the resiliency of humans – the ability to create beauty or find hope amidst tragedy is life-affirming.
- Creating images can help you experience catharsis (cleansing or purging) of intense emotional pain. Your art can help you understand yourself better and help bring closure to your grief.
- Creating artwork in your healing studio is enjoyable! It provides a welcome respite from your heavy bereavement. It enlivens, energizes, and nurtures your playful childlike side. It has been proven that the creation of art actually increases the serotonin levels in your brain, which helps fight depression.
- Some people report that art becomes a form of meditation, and they find inner peace and calm from it. The repetitive, soothing actions and sensations of art actually bring on the physiological “relaxation response” that long-distance runners experience. (And you are on the long-distance marathon of your life, right?)
Wow! Is all this too heavy-duty for you? Let me make it simple for you: “Healing through creative grieving” is the major premise of this entire website. I have seen healing art therapy create magic and hope for people during bereavement, myself included.
Keep an open mind, have fun with this, and explore your own creativity and soul. You will not regret the “quality time” you spent in this noblest endeavor.
We suggest you start with Art Therapy Activity: “Drawing” out your emotions.
~Are you devastated by the loss of a loved one?
~Bewildered by all the strong emotions and crazy symptoms?
~Wondering how you are ever going to survive?
~Tired of being stuck in complicated grief?
Back To Life! Our Personal Grief Guidebook might be just the help you are looking for. Read more about this most useful and practical recovery guide here: Back To Life!
In addition to the written guidebook, we also offer a unique audio program to help with grief coping and relaxation. If you think an audio approach might be helpful, consider this program:
I hope you’ll try using art for healing after your loss: it can truly help soothe your soul and find ways to let go of your grief and anguish.