How to Honor Your Grief Through Creative Expression

The experience of grief can be an intensely emotional whirlwind full of heightened emotions, grappling thoughts, and unexpected needs. Nobody can truly understand the full underpinnings of grief until they experience it first-hand. And with that, every type of grief stands as its own unique experience.

Although loss can feel devastating and overwhelming, it can also pave a path for deeper connection and purpose. Creative expression can help you navigate some of the nuances of grief, and it can provide an essential emotional release during this vulnerable time in your life.

Ways to Engage in Creative Grief Expression

Creative expression is simply an umbrella term to describe using creative mediums to process various emotions. Creativity is not just for people who identify as being creative- anyone can engage in creative expression if they desire.

You may want to consider trying one or some of the following options:

  • Free journaling or journaling using guided prompts
  • Painting, drawing, or sculpting
  • Creating a collage that honors your loved one (i.e. with pictures and tangible mementos of them)
  • Engaging in performing arts like music theater, dance, or songwriting
  • Photography
  • Cooking or baking

Guidelines for Grief-Based Creative Expression

If you’re interested in experimenting with various forms of creative expression to cope with grief, you’re on the right track. The most important takeaway is to remember there’s no perfect or even optimal way to do this. Grief is an emotionally charged journey that doesn’t adhere to set criteria or linear guidelines. The more you can try to control releasing the outcome, the more you may benefit from your creative process.

Let Go of Trying to ‘Create’ Something Meaningful

Perfectionism can arrive in many forms, and it sometimes feels heightened during the grief process. You may feel this internal need to find deeper meaning or truly cultivate what grief represents to you through creative expression. However, holding onto this intellectual mentality can actually take you away from your own emotional needs. The only goal of creative expression is to engage in a sense of emotional release. There is no need to be “good” or “skilled” in that.

Share (Or Not Share)

Creative expression is ultimately for you. You get to decide how and what you want to do with your creation. Some people want to keep their artwork private. Others find more catharsis by sharing it with others. This is sometimes the overarching premise of bereavement support groups where members may bring in pieces of writing or paintings.

Do Not Confuse Creative Expression With Changing Emotional States

Creative expression will not eliminate grief nor will it take you away from your sadness or anger. In some cases, engaging with your emotions creatively may actually heighten them at first. That’s because you may be more mindful of your feelings, needs, and desires. The goal of creative expression isn’t to fix or absolve you from grief. It’s simply a way to channel it in a defined way during a singular moment of time.

Try Different Outlets

Some people find that they prefer having various options available to them for channeling their grief. In one moment, you may want to write about your feelings. In the next, you may feel called to take photos of scenes that you know your late loved one would have enjoyed. Try to trust your own body and process with this. When you can do that, you can trust that your grief will take you where you need to go.

Be Mindful of Isolating With Creative Expression

Creative expression is just one tool for coping with grief. But if it’s your only tool, you may risk experiencing the detrimental perils of isolated grief. This can exacerbate feelings of loneliness, resentment, anger, and helplessness. While leaning on others may feel uncomfortable, support matters. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to friends or family, consider meeting with a therapist or joining a grief support group. It’s important to be surrounded by people who can care for you during this time.

Engage in Creative Expression Anytime During the Grief Process

There are no hard rules about when it’s best to try creative expression amid grief. Some people find that it’s particularly helpful just after a loss. Others feel too numb or overwhelmed with shock or despair and may need to wait several months. All options are okay and remember that you’re not obligated to do something that doesn’t honor your emotional well-being.

Grief Therapy and Support in Austin, TX

People choose to process their grief in different ways, and creative outlets are just one way to release various emotions. Grief therapy can offer a supportive environment to better understand your needs during this time. Together, we can unpack the stories associated with your loss, and we can collaborate to discover ways you can best take care of yourself. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your loss, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to endure this alone.

If you’re interested in learning more about grief support, please contact me today to schedule a consultation.

4601 Spicewood Springs Road Building 3, Suite 200
Austin, TX 78759
(512) 988-3363

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