To express oneself is one of the most healing things we can do for the soul. On my own journey through grief and loss, as well as other difficulties I have faced, I have been able to create art through poetry and other mediums.
There was one point where I went to a grief support group and we made masks to express how grief made us feel as if we were wearing a mask to the outside world. At another support group, we made collages to reflect upon the loss of our loved ones. And at yet another support group (I was a huge fan of these for a while), we made New Year’s vision board collages to express what we wanted to achieve or experience in the upcoming year, and we talked about how it related to our loss.
I also took a creative writing class during this time in my life, which allowed me to express my feelings about the loss through poetry, and it was very cathartic.
To heal from our grief is to be authentic with it. To allow it to permeate into our lives and from the ashes of the ones we have lost, to create meaning. This meaning can be personal, or it can be interpersonal—we can go beyond ourselves and our old lives and make new connections with others.
The most authentic way to express the soul is through art. It might not feel like much at first, but every time you create, you are freeing a part of yourself and allowing it to flourish. When you share that art or expression with others, they can relate, and they can start to feel that maybe it’s okay for them to share that part of themselves as well. To love it and honor it is the best way to heal it.
In terms of grief and loss specifically, the most powerful form of expression is to make an altar or shrine for the lost loved one, especially if they were a major part of your life. It may feel scary or sad at first, but you may actually find a connection to them beyond the grave that you never imagined possible.
When I look at the altar I made for my mom, it makes me smile. It reminds me of all the good memories and of the fact that she is still here with me, even though she’s not physically present. Her soul permeates the room and still permeates my life. It is essential for the healing of our own soul to reconnect with these lost loved ones through the grieving process.
The altar contains many of the things she loved and collected. Seashells, fairies, stones, and sea glass. There are also some photo albums below to look through.
And creative expression, of course, is not limited to grief. The more we can express every part of ourselves openly, the more we can heal and grow, as well as inspire others to do the same. To show them that it’s okay to feel, it’s okay to love, it’s okay to express. And it’s not only okay, it is good. No matter how dark your expression may be, there is always going to be someone who can relate. There will be some who cannot, but it’s not your job to make everyone happy.