Grief is heavy. Every one of us – no matter where we are in life – will at some point come face to face with the seriousness of grief. Unattended grief can manifest as physical sickness, depression, anger and can affect us in a wide variety of other ways, so it is important to give grief the support and attention it needs.
There are many healthy techniques for dealing with grief – such as talking to friends, joining a support group, prayer and worship, meditation, even exercising and other self-care activities. But many people don’t realize that creativity is also one of the most influential ways to deal with your inner emotions.
Creative activities like journaling, coloring and painting, poetry and even singing or dancing can be extremely healing during the toughest times.
“Make your own recovery the first priority in your life.” – Robin Norwood
The “Next Right Thing”
Focusing on creative therapy doesn’t mean pretending to be healed, or that you will suddenly be done grieving. Healing is a journey that takes time – and sometimes the best thing you can do is to anchor yourself on one page at a time.
In Frozen 2, Elsa’s younger sister Anna has to face the darkest moment in their journey to save Arendelle. Left alone in a dark cave that seems completely hopeless, Anna believes that her sister and their magical snowman, Olaf, are gone forever. In her darkest moment, she sings ‘The Next Right Thing’… here is an excerpt:
This grief has a gravity, it pulls me down
But a tiny voice whispers in my mind
You are lost, hope is gone
But you must go on
And do the next right thing
By focusing on what’s right in front of you, on your next move, you will be able to move through your grief. With art, all you can do is focus on one piece at a time – there’s no way to see the finished product – just like each day.
“Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.” – Pablo Picasso
Benefits of Creative Therapy
“Healing takes courage, and we all have courage, even if we have to dig a little to find it.” – Tori Amos
Since the beginning of recorded history people have turned to song, dance, painting, and many other mediums as a means to heal.
Now, science has given us more definitive reasons why art therapy is so beneficial. Studies from the National Institute of Health show that listening to music, painting and drawing are powerful enough to reduce anxiety as well as process feelings that cannot be put into words. Other benefits of all types of art therapy include:
- Stress relief
- Providing an emotional outlet
- Offering a sense of accomplishment for a self-esteem boost
- Opening up opportunities for self-discovery
“I merely took the energy it takes to pout and wrote some blues.” – Duke Ellington
Don’t Think, Color
Regardless of artistic skill, anybody can enjoy the benefits of art therapy. In some ways, coloring a page in a book can be more relaxing than looking at a blank canvas. By eliminating some of the decisions, you can focus on the calming action of coloring one piece at a time. It can also be helpful to keep a blank page nearby to write down thoughts or feelings as they surface.
“When I was going through some difficult times, I colored a postcard and mailed it to myself. It reminds me of how much beauty there is in this world.” – Unknown
Healing by Design
“Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that everything in this life has a purpose.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
Grief is hard, there’s no way around it. Coloring pretty pictures isn’t going to change the loss that you’ve experienced. But it can bring life to your gray world and change the way you feel about yourself as well as your circumstances.
Healing by Design is a small keepsake journal that holds a variety of creative activities to help you on your journey. From coloring pages to journal prompts and poetry games, use it however you please. There is no wrong way – it’s simply just for you.