More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Healing Grief Through Creativity
by Bodhi Simpson, LCPC, ATR, consciousarttherapy
November 19, 2017

?I found I could say things with colors and shapes that I couldn?t say in any other way ? things I had no words for?. ~ Georgia O?Keefe


Grief is complicated. Loss and trauma can shatter our beliefs about how the world works. Throughout the grieving process we feel a deep separation, our hearts are heavy. The process of grieving is a time to slow down and begin to restructure our world that has been challenged by loss.

I believe that healing from grief is not about ?getting over it with time? and moving on without our loved ones. I believe that it is learning how to develop and maintain a new connection. Through creativity, we are able to discover new ways to develop a continued relationship that is felt in our hearts. When we first experience loss, the separation is so painful that we often close up our hearts in self-protection. We close up our hearts because our deep grief and sadness is painful. When we close up our hearts we block our ability to heal, we block our ability to give and receive love.

Creativity helps us to feel better in a deep and subtle way. Creating art is immediately grounding and helps us to be in the present moment. We are able to get out of our heads and into our bodies. While creating, we experience slower breathing and a decrease in blood pressure and heart rate. Art-making offers a way to memorialize both the relationship with the deceased and the grief experience. The creative process provides a transitional object that can be looked at or physically held when an immediate connection to our loved ones is needed, when we just need something tangible to hold onto.

Tips for starting your own creative healing practice:

  • Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Place your hand n your heart and imagine your heart opening up like a flower so that you are able to give and receive love during your creative healing process
  • Take a large piece of paper and your desired art materials. Expressively release with color the heaviness in your heart since losing your loved one
  • Gather your next desired art materials. With your heart open, create an image or symbol to represent the essence of your loved one
  • Smile and feel the connection in your heart with your loved one while you are creating. Be gentle with yourself. Send love and allow yourself to receive love from the connection throughout this process
  • While looking at your image, journal about what you have learned about yourself and about life in general (both positive and negative) as a result of having this person in your life
  • Have gratitude for the love and the learning. Smile to your heart. Feel the connection. Practice noticing when your heart is open, practice holding the vibration of love in your heart and practice feeling a connection with yourself and your loved one
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