During my journey through grief, here were four friends that never failed me: journaling, expressive arts, dreams and synchronicity. My book, The Deep Water Leaf Society, is full of examples of how these companions helped to guide me toward healing. Here is a brief overview of how you can bring these friends along with you on your own healing journey.

When you’ve lost a loved one, all kinds of things go through your mind and heart. You feel many emotions. You may have regrets. You may be beating yourself up with the “if onlys.” There may be things you wish you could say to your loved one. You may have worries about your future and how you are going to handle life without the one you lost. A journal is the perfect place to express all of these things. When your mind is going around and around in circles, there’s nothing like putting words on paper to sort it all out. You can tell your journal anything and it will never judge you.

I prefer journaling on unlined paper, which allows you to write in any size and any direction – even in circles if that’s what feels right. A spiral bound sketch book (available at most book stores) works perfectly, or you can simply use plain white paper (the kind you put in your printer), three-hole punch it and put it into a binder. I also recommend using a variety of colors and types of writing tools: markers, pens, pencils, crayons. Use the tool and color that best captures your current mood. Unlined paper also allows you to scribble and draw in addition to writing words, and often the act of drawing will connect to and release emotions more quickly than words. Which brings me to. . .

Don’t let the word “art” scare you-we’re not talking about Art with a capital A. You don’t have to be an artist for expressive arts, because it’s not about creating a museum quality piece, or even something to hang on the fridge! Expressive art is a way to express what you’re feeling. When it comes to processing emotions, a picture really is worth a thousand words! Emotions are felt and expressed through the heart and the right brain, while words and language are primarily left brain expressions. If you want to explore, express, process and release your emotions, there?s nothing like art to heal the heart.

Expressive arts can include: scribbling, drawing, painting, creating collage, mask making, sculpting, dancing, acting out, singing, beating a drum, or ANYTHING artistic that allows you to express your feelings. You can combine the art process with journaling. Creating the art first will help you to really tune into what?s going on inside of you so that you will be better able to express it in words. The combination of art followed by verbalization is very healing.

I encourage you to pay attention to your dreams while you’re grieving. You may find that in some of your dreams you will have connection and communication with your lost loved one. I believe these are real visitations and not just flights of fancy. Our loved ones come to us in dreams to let us know they are okay, to forgive and be forgiven, to resolve what their death may have left unresolved, and to bring us information that we need. Other dreams that don’t include your loved one will often be showing you a path toward healing. It helps to work with your dreams metaphorically rather than literally.

For instance, if you dream of an animal, think about the qualities of that animal and how those qualities might help you to heal. One dream I had of lizards reminded me that when a lizard loses its tail, it can grow a new one. That is a powerful symbol for regeneration and it helped me to see that I could grow something new from the place of my deepest loss. If you aren’t in the habit of remembering your dreams, check out this site for some helpful tips: http://www.intuitivejourney.com/drmrcl.html.

Synchronicity is a word coined by Karl Jung that means “a meaningful coincidence.” I personally believe that synchronicity is a divine trail of bread crumbs, laid out for us by our Source, to give us clues and lead us down the path that will bring us healing, wholeness and personal growth.

Let’s say you’ve been thinking of an old friend you haven’t seen for years, someone you really haven’t even thought of in a long time. Or maybe this person pops into your dreams all of a sudden. The Universe may be prodding you to reconnect with that person because they have something that will help your healing process right now. Pay attention to that nudge and do something about it.

Or let’s say you are suddenly hearing a particular song on the radio all the time?a song you played at your loved one’s funeral or a song that was one of their favorites. Perhaps your loved one is trying to communicate something to you?maybe just saying hello or I love you, or maybe there is something in the lyrics themselves that carry a message. Whenever a particular message or theme is repeated from several different sources, pay attention. I received a powerful nudge about self-forgiveness when the term kept coming up in random emails, magazine articles and conversations. Over and over again, synchronicity has guided me unfailingly to the next step in my healing. I know it can guide you as well.

Copyright   2009 Claire M. Perkins.


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Claire Perkins

Claire Perkins is a Transformational Arts Coach and award-winning author of The Deep Water Leaf Society: Harnessing the Transformative Power of Grief (Intuitive Journey Press 2008). After losing her eldest son to a drug overdose in 2004, Claire embarked on a conscious and creative journey of healing and personal growth. By using a unique combination of dream work, journaling, expressive arts and inner guidance, Claire learned that within this deep experience of grief a gift of profound spiritual transformation awaited her discovery. Claire believes that every loss you experience and every challenge you face can be used to fuel the next cycle of your own personal and spiritual evolution. She offers one-on-one coaching and workshops to help you move through grief into healing. Using gentle but powerful art and journaling techniques, she can help you to find peace with your loss and discover the gifts that may be buried beneath your grief.

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