Creative Grief heARTwork
Creative grief can help you express your emotions that are often too difficult to put into words. Creative heARTwork, as some may call it, is the expression in an art form that comes from the inner most feelings of your heart. This beauty can come in different forms, so don't be worried if you aren't a sculptor or an expert artist. It is important for anyone struggling with grief to free the feelings that are bottling up in a safe manner, and creative grief is perfect for that. Art can give you a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Some may even find that the art is a form of calming meditation that brings peace and a soothing result.
Forms of creative grief
Drawing, sketching, doodling and painting are great ways to express your creativity. If you are not creative in visual art, you can form artistic words instead. You can start a journal to release feelings. Start with segments of time that you are comfortable with and build from there. Some start with 20-30 minutes of uninterrupted time to journal, write phrases, quotes, poetry or short stories. You can find things that inspire you if you feel writer's block setting in. For example, try sitting outside and finding inspiration: "In the breeze of an Autumn afternoon, I sit in the bright green grass watching a bee fly around my garden. I watch as it lands on petals of crimson red..." Writing what you see can help open the door for more thoughts to come through. Performing arts can be amazing for your soul...plus it gets your blood flowing. You can dance to your favorite song or even play a musical instrument. Creative grief can be expressed through photography, scrapbooking, sculpting and even cooking. The possibilities truly are endless!!
Creatively Grieving on Easter
Easter can be difficult to deal with when you are missing a special little angel. Here is an idea that may help. When you are making an Easter basket for your Earthside babes, make a special garden basket for your angel. Plant flowers and watch them grow during Spring!
Creative Flower Art
One way that I have found to be helpful to my heart is creating beautiful art with flowers. Nature is so generous with things we can find in parks, forest preserves or even our own back yards that can be used to form unique heARTwork. Flowers can be used in centerpieces, flower mandalas, dried and used for wreaths, and so much more!
I make flower arrangements almost on a weekly basis. It is very therapeutic as I buy flowers during times I am feeling exceptionally down. I go home and clear a workspace, usually my kitchen island. I find a vase or two to use, depending on how may flowers I have purchased. I lay each grouping out and start to slowly put together my centerpiece. I found that floral foam works great if you like a base to stick the stems into. Have fun and be creative with your florals, then display them around the house. I made the featured bouquet from flowers in Avery's Garden.
As flowers and bouquets start to wilt and die, there is no reason why you can't take some time to make one final piece of art from the petals and leaves. Start by placing one single flower in the center of your design. Then, start to slowly work outwards. Add petals, leaves, stems, berries and more. Alternate the textures to go around and around until the design is finished. You can spend some time doing this exercise. I personally find it a lot like meditation as the breath needs to be very controlled to not blow the petals around on your work surface. Have fun with the bold beautiful colors.
Traditionally, prayer flags are used to promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom.
Before Vs. After Grief
One mindful activity that can be done is to sit down in a quiet space and trace your hands. Start with the left side. Write, draw or color in things that were important to you before your grief. It can be things you enjoyed. how you liked to spent your time, etc. Really think about your life. Then, start on the right side. This is the "after grief" of your current life. What is important now? Have things changed. What holds value...and are you satisfied with this new way of living? This prompt may make you realize some things that have come from your journey. Reflect in your creation.
Leaves of Love
During the Fall months, one of my favorite activities is creating Leaves of Love. Start my collecting leaves that have fallen. I go to local walking paths, parks and botanical gardens to get a range of colors and sizes. Using Sharpie paint pens, write your angel's name. For my leaves, I displayed them on a Manzanita branch.
October in Avery's Garden 2018
With any month-long challenge, it is nice to start with introductions. Feel free to share as much as is comfortable to you. Who are you? Who are you remembering this month? Perhaps include how you use creative grief techniques or what you want to learn in this process.
2. Your Name Gives Me…
Use your angel’s name and letters to describe how it helps you heal. For example,
A-V-E-R-Y stands for A: An ability to use art to help heal, V: Vulnerability that I channel to help connect with others…so on from there.
3. Grief Fighter Kit
Make a grief fighter kit that you can carry along with you for when grief attacks. Start with a plastic zip lock bag and include the items that you find bring you peace. Share what is in this bag. Perhaps it is a piece of your favorite candy, some tissue or a quote you have written for yourself. Carry this bag with you during the month of October and see if you end up needing to open it. Add whatever you think you might need.
4. Soothing Smells
In the past we have talked about soothing smells. What helps make you feel at ease. Maybe it is the hints of lavender in your favorite lotion or the lemongrass in one of your essential oils. Whatever it is, we want to know!
5. Angel Pen Pails
Angel pen pails is a written exercise where you are going to need to write a letter to your angel. Write how you are feeling in that moment and let your pen do the work. In return, I am asking you to then write a letter to yourself from your angel. What do you think your angel would tell you if letters could be sent from Heaven? Spend this time feeling the connection between you and your little love.
Similar to soothing smells, it is time to take it up a notch with a homemade flower garden bath soak. If you do not have an angel flower garden, feel free to use whatever you would like to comfort you. If you love bath bombs and rose petals or find bath salts calming, just use those!
7. Story Rocks
It is time to tell a story using rock painting. For this you may with to purchase a small burlap bag to keep the stones in. Tell a story about your angel using the images you paint on the rocks. Then write something to describe what you chose to paint. These can be used as a keepsake and fun to show off if you ever want to share about your little angel.
8. Fall Burn Bowl
Fall can be a great time to release the hurt. In the past, I have hosted a community burn bowl, but now it is your turn to cast away those unwanted feelings. As we welcome fall and move into a new season, what are some of the things you want to release? Write them down on a piece of paper. Take the paper and place it in a burn friendly environment. I use a metal bowl. Fill your bowl with whatever you wish…leaves, flowers, rocks, etc. Light the paper on fire and watch the unwanted feels go up in flames and casted away in smoke. Take a video and share!
9. Quote Art Project
Find a quote that describes how you are feeling today. Create a piece of art to go along with the quote. Use your imagination! Some suggestions are to sketch, draw, paint, sculpt or take a photo of the imagery you see in the quote.
Soul Evolving Love For “I” Everyday. Take a selfie and explain the self-love you practice. What soul evolving love do you have for yourself that helps break free from some of the pain of grief and into the love and healing that is possible?
11. Wave of Light Candles
Find a candle craft that you would like to try. It being fall, there are many beautiful ideas that can be created to display in your home. Once this candle holder is done, place it in a safe place to be used on October 15th for International Wave of Light.
12. Friday Night Florals
One of my favorite challenge days is Friday Night Florals! Tonight, pick up some flowers for yourself. You may decide that you would rather pick and display wild flowers, and that is ok too! Create a centerpiece or display your flowers throughout spaces in your home.
13. Coping Cards
A big part of what we think determines how we are going to feel. Coping cards are a way to break up those thoughts ahead of time so that you can reference something when you are upset. Coping cards prepare us with empowering statements we have found tailored to our own likes. For example, maybe a phrase like “do what you love” inspires you to get creative, which in turn breaks up the grief thoughts. Take some note cards and make a series of cards that you can go to when you need a pick me up. Take in each of the affirmations you wrote down, closing your eyes and repeating them a few times one by one.
14. Light Bulbs of Love
We all have bright ideas from time to time…and this one is for you! Your challenge is to find a way to repurpose a light bulb. Bring light back in from a otherwise dimmed or broken bulb. You can create anything you wish! Maybe you want to soak above darkness, so you decide to create a hot air balloon from a light bulb. Or maybe you like to grow from the darkness and make a terrarium. Find a way to incorporate the light that is possible from darkness.
15. International Wave of Light
Today is International Wave of Light. Display your candle holders made earlier this month and honor your sweet angel amongst bereaved families worldwide.
16. Fall Pumpkins
It is time for another craft. Paint or carve a pumpkin that can be displayed in honor of your angel.
17. Keepsakes We Treasure
Share a keepsake item you have of your angel that brings your comfort.
18. Gratitude Scavenger Hunt
Find something that makes you happy
Find something you love to smell
Find something you enjoy looking at
Find something in nature you are thankful for
Find something that is your favorite color
19. Random Act of Kindness
Today do something nice for someone. Share what you decide to do and why you chose that person.
20. Masking Grief
Sometimes people wear masks. What you decide to show the world may not be what you think on the inside. Grief can fog the mind and cause unwanted feelings to build up too. There are so many times that I have felt and seen others in the bereavement community say that they feel like some of the true feelings of grief have to be hidden. Maybe it is shame, discomfort, unwanted vulnerability…. But today I ask that you show others the masks of a bereaved mother.
21. Grief is Not Linear
Create a visual timeline of your grief and healing…what do the last few weeks, months or years look like? Grief is not linear, there are highs and lows. For me, a high of my life has been being pregnant with Avery. My lowest was the day he left this Earth. Describe some key dates that you want to share from your journey.
22. Grounding Exercise
Look around you. Identify and name: 5 things you see, 4 things you feel, 3 things you hear, 2 things you smell and 1 thing you taste.
23. Searching for Your Name
Search for your angel’s name on Pinterest, on the Internet or even in nature! Recently, I decided to search Avery’s name on Pinterest and found some beautiful graphics that said his name. I instantly felt comfort. I have also been able to since Avery’s name letter by letter in nature. Find a way to see your angel today.
24. Comfort Foods
Cooking and food can be quite comforting. What is one of your favorite go-to meals, snacks or drinks that makes you feel those warm fuzzies?
25. Smiling Through the Hurt
Share one thing that makes you smile when you are having a bad day in grief. How does this one thing help you?
Using a long piece of paper, fold the ends in to create a tri-fold. On the outside visualize and then draw the gateway to what you desire most. On the inside, draw the inside of the gate and you getting everything you desire.
27. Inspiration Jewelry
Share a piece of jewelry that you have that makes you feel your angel near. If you feel creative for this prompt you can also choose to use this time to make a new piece of jewelry that brings you comfort. Perhaps you want to make yourself a prayer necklace, or put a charm on a new necklace chain.
28. Look to the Sky
Sometimes when things seem to get too chaotic, it is nice to just stop and look up. Look to the sky, the clouds, the birds. Find something in the sky that brings you peace today. Did you find a shape amongst the clouds or maybe a rainbow? Share your discoveries!
29. Self-Care Gift Baskets
Today I empower you to make yourself a self-care basket. Hear me out. The holidays are right around the corner, which can be a trigger. A big one. I suggest making yourself a gift basket. Find things you love and treat yourself! Include these trinkets in the basket. Maybe you find a great coffee mug, or candle, maybe it is a new lotion or a picture frame for your baby’s first ultrasound. Wrap these little gifts for yourself and throughout the months of November and December if you feel those waves of grief go and pick a present and spend time enjoying the self-kindness.
Take time to reflect on this last month. How do you feel you did channeling your grief in a creative way? Did you learn anything about yourself?
31. Avery’s Garden Book Release and Give-a-way!
We end the month with the publication of Avery’s Garden Coloring Book Volume 6- Among the Wild Flowers. One person is chosen who has participated in October in Avery’s Garden and receives all available copies of the coloring books!