Grieving Death Through Creative Self-Expression

Grief drives men into habits of serious reflection, sharpens the understanding, and softens the heart ~– John Adams

There are few human experiences in life that cause us to suffer so deeply, like the death of a loved one. It is truly one of life’s hardest losses that we will ever have to face. Nothing ever prepares us for the suffering, the depth of feeling that arises in us and the strength and courage we will need to face up to the loss.

After the shock of losing a loved one has worn off, we are left with a depth of feeling like we have never felt before. So many feelings sitting deep inside of us, weighing us down. We don’t know what to do with all the pain and suffering, the fears and anxieties, and the loneliness and depression.

The grieving process can be a period of confusion and feeling lost to yourself. You may feel disorganized mentally and emotionally, not knowing at times if you are coming or going. To put words to all that you feel can be so difficult. It most likely feels like there are no words to express your suffering. Nonetheless, you do have to find words for your feelings, if you are to heal.

You need to move these painful feelings from deep inside of you upward to the surface where you can begin to release them.

The grief you feel is your own hell. No matter how much love and comfort is around you, only you can do the grieving. I know, I’ve been there. The grieving process is one of the most isolated experiences that you will go through; it is so very personal. The way you express your grief, the depth of your suffering, and the length of time that you need to grieve to heal is unique to your makeup and the circumstance of your loved one’s death. There is no benchmark for healing. You have to find your own way.

Why do the feelings you have over the loss of your loved one disorganize you so much right now? You shared so many experiences, hopes and dreams, and losses with your loved one. You journeyed through life together. Whether the deceased love one is a parent, your child, a sibling or grandparent, a relative, or cherished friend, your identity is tied to this person.No wonder you feel lost, as if you lost a part of yourself. These relationships, by their nature, are central to your existence. The memories that made up a good part of your life, if not all of it thus far, involved this person.

Your feelings about losing them will be deep and confusing. It will take time for you to grieve all that they meant to you. You may feel at times like you’ll never get better, but you will. The pain you feel will not be there forever, although I know it’s difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel right now. You and your life may seem at a standstill. It’s good to keep in mind at this time that the grieving process is much like a still river. On the surface, it looks like nothing is happening, but there are stirrings deep within it–and deep inside of you.

What can you do to heal? The most important task in the grieving process is to express your grief, so you can let go of the painful feelings you have and get on with your life.  Remember, feelings that come from loss sit deep inside of you. You have to shake them up and move them up and outward. You need to express them. This movement of self-expression is vital to the healing process. There are four ways to do this. These include:

  • Draw out your pain. Show your emotions on paper. You can use crayons, colored markers, or watercolors. You don’t have to be an artist. Just get your pain out and don’t censor what you feel. Draw whatever comes up from deep inside of you.
  • Release your grief by venting it. You can vent through words spoken or written. Keep a journal.  Each day write down what bothered, energized, or deeply affected you. For some time, things in your day will call up a memory of your loved one. Express the feelings that come with each memory.
  • Share your grief with others. You may want to join a grief support group. Sharing your grief with others who are suffering too is a good way to get out your pain.
  • Give meaning to your grief. Put symbols to what it means or it feels like to you. Is there a sign or interpretation that you take from the loss? Find ways to understand what the grief means to you and your whole life.

Remember, the feelings that you express tell your story from your perspective, your suffering– what you lost, fear, and need to heal. You won’t see it immediately, but in time, the feelings that you have been expressing begin to organize your inner experience and help you to integrate the loss into your life. Now, you can begin to rebuild your life without your loved one.

Find your own way of expressing your pain. Draw, write, sing, even drum your pain out, but whatever you do, give it meaning. You’ll see, in time, the healing will come.

Blessings to you and your deceased loved one. I’m adding some links to my page for you that I think are good sites on grieving.

If you like my post today, please say so by selecting the Like icon that immediately follows. You can also Tweet or Google+1 today’s post to share with your friends. And, as always, I appreciate your comments, so feel free to leave them here. Warmly, Deborah

Art by Dr. Deana Khoshaba (Deborah’s sister).

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8 Responses to “Grieving Death Through Creative Self-Expression”

  1. avatar dr.amanjadoon says:

    excellent doctor well done its too illustrative and meaningful

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Thank you Dr. Amanjadoon, what a nice complement from you. I’m glad it’s illustrative as that is how we can all relate to the ideas. Thank you for taking time to let me know. Warmly Deborah.

  2. avatar Wafaa Abduhasan says:

    I can’t enjoy life even though the dream I’ve been living and waiting for, for years has come true, I can’t enjoy it. Can never forget my brother who died on March 28th, 2013. His wife left him during his sickness which lasted for 2 years, I came to know him better than before and discovered the good person in him. What hurts is that I was always very busy but took good care of him but didn’t have time to listen to him. Now I cry day and night and can’t concentrate, lost the passion I had for work. I cry whenever I see beauty or nice things.
    Neither my brother (after his wife left him) nor I had any families of our own. He and mom were everything I had.
    The harshest thing I remember was when the abdomin doctor told him he could use artificial legs and I said,”I don’t think he can because when he lost the first one, they asked him to lose some extra weight, how about now he’s lost both?” About a week later he died, but he had been suffering from blood poisoning and others. Yet why did have to say that? I never know. Thank you.

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello Wafaa, I can relate to what you say here. I lost a very dear sister to illness when she was just 50 and it was very hard to get over this loss. But, eventually, I did — never ever forgetting her but living life fully as I know she would want me to.

      You recently lost him. Give yourself time. It’s okay that you cry when you see beauty. I believe it’s because of your beautiful feelings for him. Your brother doesn’t want you to die while you are still living, by not healing. You miss him and had a very special relationship with him because of not having families of your own. He doesn’t remember that you said that about his legs — and what you said was not bad, you were scared. I believe Wafaa that all he wants is for you to live fully and happily while you are still on this earth. We have to honor the life of our dead loved ones by living the best we can while we are still alive. Let your healing be a tribute to his life. Honor life dear Wafaa. This is what he would want for you.

      I have another post for you that I’d like you to read, if you have not already. It’s on Complicated Bereavement. Here’s the link to the article:

      I give some good help in this article. You take good care of yourself. Warmly Deborah.

  3. avatar salim says:

    Can a women come back after cheating her husband and caught ?

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello Salim, if you are asking can a woman who cheated on her husband or lover then love this person again? Yes! It all depends on the quality of the relationship prior to the cheating. If there was a lot of history shared by the two people, generally good feelings between them and reasons to stay, like children and family, then yes, if the person can work on why she dealt with her stress by having an affair. You see cheating, infidelity, is a sign of stress. Many people cheat on their lovers or spouses because they can’t find another way to deal with their feelings, resentments, anger and stress. If the person can work through the resentments she has about her marriage or relationship and her husband or lover can forgive her and work with her–then, yes, many people do stay married or in the romantic relationship. Actually, in all of my years of doing psychotherapy, do you know that most couples who had infidelity in their marriage end up staying together? They do because of the reasons I mention here. They have shared history, children, and generally like each other. Now, if the cheating happens many times–this ends a relationship.

      Salim, even thought I’m saying that people can heal and get back together, let me say that relationship cheating is one of the things that really harms the connection between two people. If the person who cheated never apologies with full understanding of what he or she did and why or blames the relationship for making him or her cheat–then this is not a good sign for the relationship to heal and move forward once again. I hope this helps. Best to you Salim. Warmly Deborah.

  4. avatar zubair khan says:

    thx for posting such informative things ,ups and downs are a part of life but one thing i want to ask is,,that when happiness or good times comes in our life we are fully prepared for it ,we are soo exited about its arrival and as it comes near our feeling of happiness are at top,but the case is opposite in case of bad times,but dont know about its arrival,we are not fully prepared for it so when it comes it has very devastating effect on us ,at that time following your tips cant work the whole time,so can you kindly assist me how to prepare our self before such unwanted situation comes.

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello Zubair, you are welcome. You are right–we don’t know the arrival of loss and this can be so hard on us. Yes, it is very hard at first to get into the healing mode, because at first we are in shock. So, I am very glad that you mention this. The timing differs for all of us. But, then, when we are ready–and we will know it, then my tips in this article can be very helpful.

      But, exactly to your question, let me say that the only way we can prepare for loss of loved ones or loss in our life that comes other ways is by our understanding that everything eventually ends. Zubair, we can never avoid feeling sad or grieving. This is a normal part of life and part of preparation for loss is to accept that we can feel very sad and in touch with our emotional suffering. But, at the same time, I really love the wisdom that everything is impermanent, we must let ourselves attach to others and love deeply with the understanding that time will take away everything — including us. Forgive me, as I know you know these things, but to really accept these truths of existence is another thing. I love a line from the movie Gladiator that comes to mind now. Eventually everything is shadows and dust. So, my main wisdom today is to love deeply, take advantage of the moment with regard to creating beautiful memories with loved ones–because this in the end is all we have. So, make sure those memories are meaningful. Thank you for such a deep, meaningful question. Warmly Deborah! **Oh, I won’t use your name, but I think I will post your question and my response on FB for this site for other people to reflect upon. I’m sure many of them are wondering the very same thing.


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