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Carol's Columns

Grief and the Creative Process

Many of us after the death of our child, find words are inadequate when trying to describe our feelings. To say we feel devastated, empty, hollow, hopeless, helpless or desperate still may not get to the core of what we're experiencing. That said, I know several of you were non-poets before the death of your child, yet found words flowing from your heart after. These poems have allowed you to creatively or analogically describe your experience. They have not only helped you to heal, but they have helped others to understand. To reach beyond words, whether we are trying to explain to someone what we're feeling or to help ourselves heal by tapping into the depth of our grief, the creative process can be the answer.

Others, who have not been able to heal through poetry, have reached beyond words into other creative ways. Many, like me, have turned to painting as a way to reach these depths. The paintings can be as personal as a journal, never to be seen by anyone but the painter. One father I counseled who had never painted before tried this medium. Often, painting over and over on the same canvas, he would just splash on color. At other times he tried to be more specific. It didn't matter. Afterwards, he would often write in his journal.

If painting or poetry is not for you, there are many ways to be creative when grieving that can console us. A mother, whose thirteen-year-old daughter died in a biking accident, made a necklace out of her daughter's favorite colors and calls it her "Barbara" necklace. She gets great comfort, feeling closer to her daughter, when wearing it. Another mother, whose ten-month-old baby died, with the help of a quilter, made a beautiful wall hanging out of some of her baby daughter's clothes. A friend of mine whose son committed suicide, found a harmonica in his son's room and now has taught himself to play. He feels an intimacy with his son when playing that soothes him. Another parent plays his son's guitar and feels like he has his arms around his son when cradling it. A mother, whose toddler died, embroidered her son's name on several pillowcases. This has helped her to feel closeness to him when she rests her cheek on the pillow. Use your own creativity to find the right expression for you.

On another note, I joined Facebook in order to facilitate a conversation with other bereaved parents. You can go to my web site: www.carolkearns.com and click on the Facebook icon under my book on the right hand side. I would love to have this interaction with you and Hope you will take part.