Many who grieve find it difficult to express how they are feeling. As time passes, the opportunity to talk about their deceased loved one becomes less frequent whilst inside them the need to talk continues. Finding outlets for the feelings, and a way to communicate their experience to others, can be beneficial to the process of grief, and enable others to talk with them more openly. Here are some forms of grief expression:
Not all of us are artistic, we may say, but what is art but expression? In my experience, art and using colour can enable expression of feeling where words cannot . Don’t be afraid to try painting your feelings; you may find the outcome very rewarding emotionally.
Using clay or dough to mould and create can be a great way of getting out anger. Moulding is a physical thing and throwing dough or clay and kneading it can be useful in enabling anger to work out.
Working With Fabrics
Collage and creating new things from old in memory of your loved one can also enable the expression of grief. One of my clients used some of her child’s favourite clothing to create a teddy bear. Whilst she worked on the bear, she was able to talk to family and friends about the memories that the items being used evoked. Afterwards, the bear sat alongside a photograph and became the focus of many conversations and an easy way of enabling others to talk about the loved one.
If you have a garden, the planting of an area specifically to the memory of your loved one can become a treasured place for years to come. One of my clients built a little pond/water feature in the garden. This attracted wildlife and became a focal point where she and her family were able to remember. If you don’t have a garden, planting bulbs in public woodland or a tree (with permission from your local authority) can be a public memorial to your child.
Many use Web sites like this one and gain enormous support from the acknowledgement and sharing with others. Write about your experiences, or write poetry, or keep a diary. Memory books are particularly useful in enabling family and friends to share. Some families keep memory boxes alongside of the book with favourite possessions, videos and photos. Leaving the memory book on display may help enable others to talk to you and in turn you to them.
There are many organisations that will welcome help and support and if you wish to help raise money for a specific charity or hospital. You can do this in your loved one’s memory.
Celebrations, Memory Days, Special Family Events
These can be very hard emotionally, and as a special day approaches, grieving families may fear the day. This is normal. Special days are often sad as they are another confirmation of the empty space left by the loved one. It can be useful to acknowledge this, set aside a few minutes of the day to spend thinking quietly about the loved one. Light a candle, have flowers by the loved one’s photo, or write something for them.
The main thing to remember is that everyone who loses a loved one fears that they and others will forget the loved one. My experience is that those members of family and friends that know us don’t forget but they are afraid, afraid to talk about what has happened. They fear upsetting us. They don’t know how to begin or what words to use, so they avoid conversation. By creating memory books, paintings, anything that can be a talking point, you enable others to share something of your journey with you.Tags: grief, hope
Alex, I’m the editor of Open to Hope’s art microsite, launching in May. I just wanted to say that your story of the child’s bear alongside their photograph reminded me of a little etiquette problem I’ve run into in my work as a prescriptive artist: viewing the photos of stillborn children.
Many concerned family members and friends often helpfully suggest to bereaved parents that they tuck those [unpleasant] photos of their stillborn child away in a “safe place” so that they, the parents can get on with their lives (translation: have more children or focus on the children you have). Over the years, bereaved moms especially will yearn for something tangible that allows them to say in company: “You know I had a daughter too.” Something that will open the conversation so they can openly grieve. In other words, etiquette for consolers…
As you can imagine it’s a real art, literally, to work with photographs of a child with paper thin skin and closed eyes, even if the parents had the presence of mind to dress their baby in its first, cute little outfit. One such way is through digital photomontage, as envisioned by a prescriptive artist with the mom or dad’s input. Here is one such example to share with Open to Hope readers: http://tinyurl.com/ykxpta8. Tell me what you think. – NG