Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Using Art As a Path for Healing

[Reviewed and updated May 18, 2021]

I have discovered that, in my opinion, grief often inspires creativity.  When everything is hunky-dory, you just don't have the same compelling need to express yourself creatively, nor to do all the hard work it requires.  That is probably why so much of the world's great literature is about grief and loss. ~ Mary Semel, in A Broken Heart Still Beats

As amazing as it sounds, bereavement does have a bright side.  It is the "sweet" in the bittersweet journey of grief.  A nationwide niche of artists who know how to bring it out and celebrate the life of a loved one can be found at BereavementArtists.com -- a non-profit directory of artists who specialize in custom bereavement work.  From quilts, collages, portraits, jewelry, urns and more, the purpose of the site is to connect anyone, anywhere, to a desired art form and artist that speaks to their taste, need, and budget.

Likewise, the bereavement artists' goal is to convey the joyful memories and essence of a loved one in a lasting, tangible way, via the healing process of custom art creation. Anita Larson, one of three artists who put their hearts and energy into launching BereavementArtists.com, explains: "We are a community of artists who really enjoy working with the bereaved and who have a special gift.  It's not grim for us; it's about lifting spirits up."

Many bereavement artists were called to their work by experiencing their own loss of a child, parent or close companion.  Many came to bereavement service in other extraordinary ways.  Custom bereavement art has evolved even further with some artists focusing on buoying those facing life-and-death battles such as cancer.

BereavementArtists.com provides a platform to help bring enlightenment and comfort to grievers, their extended family and friends, with a fresh new perspective wrought from the artists' unique experience and creative genius.  "Clients smile and hug me when they see their piece," says co-founder Gina Klawitter.  "We even have a few laughs along the way.  They delight in sharing their loved one's art with others.  Tender, joyful stories are relayed."

You'll find Bereavement Artists on Facebook.  For contact information and more, visit their Web site, www.BereavementArtists.com or send an e-mail to info@BereavementArtists.com

Nancy Gershman, LMSW is a psychotherapist and the developer of Dreamscaping, an imaginal and photo-based approach to treating grief and loss, supported by the way memories get encoded in the brain.  More playful than painful, Dreamscaping uses resourcing, focusing on felt sense, re-scripting and mental simulations to shift the focus from “what do you miss?” to “what gives you joy?” Learn more on Nancy's website, Art for Your Sake; find her public group Art for Your Sake on Facebook; or contact her via email at gershman.nancy@gmail.com.

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  1. Marty,

    I am so glad to see this article written. I've been thinking today about the book I'm writing and needing some more information for it. What you've shared here has given me a path to explore - and also maybe find a great gift for my mother in memory of my brother :)

  2. Wonderful, Tabitha! I wish you all the best in your writing, and I look forward to reading your book! ♥

  3. Recently I started leading 'Artist's Way' groups again, and it's triggered something in me relative to the grief work. Creativity isn't just about using expressive therapies (good though they are). Seems to me that the act of grieving is a creative act in and of itself. We are creating new lives out of the shattering of our previous lives. Would love to get your thoughts on this... In grief…creativity, spirituality and healing are inextricably linked


Your comments are welcome!