I am privileged to facilitate The Healing Arts program for Western Reserve Grief Services. The program consists of a variety of virtual as well as in-person art therapy workshops for anyone in the community who is grieving the death of a beloved someone.
Creative expression, whether through visual arts, music, theater, storytelling, or dance, can help release emotion and process grief. Grief is not only deep sadness, but any and all feelings that grievers have as they try to grasp the reality of the death of their loved ones. These may include difficult emotions such as anger, frustration, fear, hopelessness, guilt, a lack of purpose, and shame. The bereaved may also experience perhaps “unexpected” emotions regarding their loss such as relief, joy, gratitude, or deep peace. It is important to remind yourself that whatever feelings you are having are acceptable, even though you may think otherwise!
You must allow yourself the time, space, and non-judgmental mindset to address them. Creative expression can facilitate this process.
There is something about the creative process that connects us with ourselves more deeply, whether we are grieving or not. It enables us to calm our minds, tap an inner healer that helps us to sort through our emotions, and releases them through the creation of something new. This new creation has a voice which speaks to us and is a vehicle by which we can speak our truth to others. When the creative process is shared with others, whether virtually or in person, connection is made with others who are also grieving, letting us know we are not alone in our pain.
It can be very comforting to be with others whom you do not necessarily know well, but you have a commonality with because you are all grieving someone. Sometimes, it is difficult to share your real feelings and thoughts with family members or friends because you may all be suffering the same loss. You might hold back your tears or anxiety because you do not want to upset them, and they do the same. This tentativeness can rob you of opportunities to heal. When you attend a Healing Arts workshop (or any of our other grief support groups), you can open doors to new possibilities for healing, such as:
Camaraderie with others who understand – You make connections with people who are also grieving and with whom you can be authentic.
Personal creative choices and reflection – You choose how much effort and meaning you want to put into your art.
Share at a level with which you are comfortable – No one is compelled to share.
Form new self-realizations – You may learn about yourself and your own reactions by hearing someone else’s experience.
Opportunities to receive and give support – Learn how to receive support and be a witness to others in their grief.
For more information on the current Healing Arts workshop offerings and our other grief support groups, visit hospicewr.org/Patients-and-Caregivers/Grief-Services/Support-Groups.
The Healing Arts program provides grieving people with a creative outlet for their grief and is open to the community. The program is made possible by a project support grant from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture.