Dr. Gloria Horsley interviewed Sharon Strouse at the 2015 Association for Death Education and Counseling conference about Strouse’s book, Artful Grief: A Diary of Healing. Strouse lost her daughter to suicide and used art therapy herself to heal—today, she teaches others how to do the same. She was already an art therapist, but it took a year after her daughter’s death for Strouse to actively start using art in her own grieving process. “I should be doing what I offer to others,” she said, which is what kick-started her very first collage.
“My whole world changed,” she said. As a bereaved mother, she opened herself up to a modality that was compassionate yet let her explore her grief. Getting started can be a challenge. For Strouse, she sits down in peace with her materials. To create a collage, you just need some magazines, glue, and scissors. Ask yourself what you’re feeling in that moment and what’s going on. You’ll find that images and words appear before you. The process will come to you and help you let go.
Making Time for Grief
Simply showing up is enough. Carve out that time to dedicate to art therapy, and let your grief lead you down the path that’s most helpful in the moment. “Give that to yourself, and a whole other world will open up,” she says. You can find out more about art therapy processes in the book, and how Strouse has used different tactics throughout the years. There’s no need to be a pro or an artist.
Many of the images you’ll see you can do yourself. It’s never too early or too late to begin art therapy. Whenever you feel up for trying, collect magazines and let Strouse’s book guide you.