How to creatively deal with grief

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We all have been told that there are many steps in grief: from denial to a dark place, from pain & tears to regrets & sorrow…

When you lose someone, you will hear so many comforting phrases which sound pretty meaningless.

He/she is in a better place now!          At least he/she is happy.
He/she will not suffer any more.        He/she would not want to see you sad…

Can someone tell me how those are supposed to help? I have been on both receiving and giving end. I’ve mocked people saying those sentences so many times. I only understood their true meaning and power when it was my turn to say them. Between an awkward silence and feeling powerless, you rapidly choose to say something stupid. Why? Because when you say something like that to someone mourning they don’t focus on your words but on your love & compassion.

When you’ve just lost someone you loved, it is good to feel less alone. Even if it’s a message from an old neighbor you weren’t friends with, you will feel the warmth in that time of need.

Personally, I am not good with dealing with death and grief. Actually I am pretty good at pretending that everything is just alright. Coping by drinking, eating, over crying, being a mess or changing your life would have been safer and wiser methods but I am a gold medalist in denial. When you pretend and convince yourself that everything is just fine, it is the most dangerous thing you could do because you will feel alright. Guess you don’t see the downside to this, right?

When you use the ostrich’s method (hide your head in the floor and pretend nothing happened), you have to watch out for the boomerang effect. Sure if you ignore the existence of pain, you will feel good. Just remember that by ignoring it, you will feed your pain and give it more power. When it will resurface and explode (because it will) and you can’t contain your pain/denial, it will hurt more that it should have. Mostly because you have been feeding this hole inside you and also because your grief supporting environment would be gone (everyone would have healed or at least started to heal except you) it will be harder for you to get better.

Not long ago, I lost a good friend of mine. I once again leaned for the ostrich technique but I quickly sabotaged myself. I had a little voice in my head telling me to don’t go back there. So I had all this pain, and puffy eyes, and I had no idea how to externalize all those feelings. One night thanks to insomnia, I was thinking about the TV show “How I met your mother”. Eureka. I knew what I could do to ease my pain in a positive and meaningful way.

I decided to write a memoir/letter for the little girl my friend left behind. I wanted her to know all the good stuffs about her mum, even the craziest stories. For me it’s a great way to make peace with my pain. Since I’m only good with words on paper, guess I can still try to pretend everything is alright and “talk” about it on paper. Cute compromise!

 

After that *Eureka* moment I decided to create a list of creative ways to grief. Here is what I came up so far:

  • Create a scrapbook/collage of your greatest memories.
  • Write a letter to your lost one. Pour your heart out. Say all you never had the chance to say or wanted to say again.
  • Write a memoir. Don’t focus only on the good; just try to put it all down.
  • Start to learn an instrument. Focusing on a new skill that will help you create something will fill the void.
  • Paint. You don’t have to be good at it. Just go for it. Let it all out. It’s all about letting go!
  • Cooking can also be a therapeutic healing technique. The warmth and appreciation of others will build you up. Little personal anecdote: cook for others don’t force yourself to eat a royal feast! Loosing grief kilos is as difficult as getting rid of your extra kilos after quitting smoking.

Remember:

All those modern gurus haven’t come up with THE bullet proof method to deal with grief. Guess what, if they haven’t figured it out, it’s OK for us to still tango with it. Every relationship is unique, so is every grief. Just listen to your heart and find the most adequate way to celebrate, remember and say your farewells to your lost ones.

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