By Stephen Garret, Grief Counsellor, Campbell River Hospice Society
When I think of an image for grief I think of a chameleon, a trickster of sorts; there is no one-way grief gets expressed.
This is both freeing and somewhat perplexing. If there is not a formula how am I to know how to support a grieving family member or friend? Even more so, how am I supposed to know how to express my own grief? What is the right way to grieve?
Well, there is no one right way. So here are several examples to give you an idea or two…
A client of mine announced at our first session; “I do not do talk therapy.” and yet we were on the telephone talking! As we got curious and looked for a solution that would work for her expression of grief we stumbled upon Luba’s love of painting.
And yes, she decided to paint her grief out. Over the six months we worked together she painted a series of nine paintings entitled Grief Has No Colour. Through her artful expression her seemingly unbearable grief, we watched it transform from raging anger to tender embrace we both could feel.
Another client, Alex expressed her grief through dance and poetry. When she couldn’t find the words to express her sorrow she turned on some music and danced out her emotions through the movement of her body.
Creative and expressive absolutely and in a uniquely different way from Luba’s painting.
Charlie’s grandmother loved her gardens that unfortunately had fallen into disrepair over the last two years of her life. In memory of his dear Grandma Charlie poured his tears of sadness into the soil along with some of Grandma’s ashes as he prepared the ground to receive some new flowering plants. As fall turned to winter turned to spring Charlie could see his tears of grief and Grandma’s ashes nurturing the plants that slowly came in to bloom. Each blossom reminding one and all of Grandma and her love of artful gardening.
Martha simply sat with me and told me stories of her life with her now deceased daughter. She invited me into her private world of grief by sharing real life stories of her daughter growing up. Her words were mixed with tears and emotions, with joy and humour, and with a profound motherly love of a child gone far too early. She showed me photographs and even had one of her daughter’s favorite toys with her as a form of comfort. Martha’s story telling was her art form.
The purpose of these short stories is to encourage you to find your own unique way to convey the sense of loss you have for your deceased loved one. Set yourself free to be unique and creative in the ways you choose to express your grief, which is also a way of showing others how deeply you loved.