As a follow up to yesterday’s post on books for those who are grieving, today’s guest post is by Becky Breed (coauthor of Writing in Community: Say Goodbye to Writer’s Block and Transform Your Life). You can find more blogs with writing prompts on the Writing in Community Blog.
Grief and Creativity by Becky Breed
“Grief is in two parts. The first is loss. The second is the remaking of life.” – Ann Rolphe
Grief is not a simple shape. It forces us to be larger, large enough to hold all the hurt and sadness of loss. It also asks us to hold the ragged love felt in our bodies and minds for what was and what continues to be. Grieving leaves the raw centers of our beliefs and attitudes about life bare, and the limits of understanding questioned.
In the depth of our feelings, it’s possible to experience growth and transformation. They take place along side the challenging emotions and life experiences – not in place of them. Change takes place when we begin to re-imagine our lives and see that a different future may be shaped. Sometimes, the re-imagining takes creative pursuits, and we find ourselves doing things we had never imagined. A new identity about who we are and what we do is created. We become gifted with a new story about life and ourselves.
Artists and writers have long used adversity as a path to creativity. By tapping into innovation and change, a new voice is often found. Resourcefulness and motivation are deepened. In an interview with Pulitzer prize winning poet Mary Oliver when asked what changed after her longtime partner died said, “I haven’t locked the door for five years. I have wonderful new friends. And I have more time to be by myself. It was a very steadfast, loving relationship, but often there is a dominant partner, and I was very quiet for 40 years, just happy doing my work. I’m different now.”
Two friends of mine who have experienced loss of their longtime partners have found unique channels for their creativity. Ron, a lover of music and a wonderful guitar player, is creating a new custom-made guitar in his wife’s honor. In an essay Ron wrote: “I decided to have a guitar custom built, using Laura as the influence for its appearance and musical tone. It is the perfect way to have her live on in this world creating a space where people in the presence of this musical instrument will marvel at its beauty and be in awe of its sound.”
Ron gave the guitar maker instructions to use a light red walnut to emulate the color of Laura’s flowing, auburn hair, and to create an instrument that will “bring smiles and joy to all those who see it and hear it for the next one hundred years.” Mother of pearl inlays will be crafted to convey a Celtic theme because Ireland was one of Laura’s favorite places to visit. The Irish green case has a texture reminiscent of the “rolling green hills on the west coast of Ireland, where the mountains meet the sea.”
Rosanne, a beautiful and insightful friend to many, has committed to writing a daily essay until the first anniversary of her husband’s death. Over three hundred and thirty essays have been published on Facebook. Each is poignant, honest, touching, and beautiful in its reach and depth. Rosanne delves into the role of solitude, significance of work and purpose, support of family, friends and faith, bearing with authenticity the uneven journey of grief. Her writing reflects a person who is highly introspective and is not afraid to go where her heart beckons. Rosanne’s honest portrayal of loss is one that will both stir readers but also uplift them. – Becky
- No one is spared from grief and sorrow. They are part of the human journey.
- Reflect upon the ways that you might use adversity as a path to creativity. How have you accessed creativity in the past?
- What are some new creative doors you could consider opening? Ask yourself how creativity may help you re-imagine your life. Make a list.
- Now draw, paint, write, teach, plant a garden, invent a game, or play with children. Or whatever you desire that taps into your creativity. Remake your life in new ways. Remembering what Richard Rohr, a theologian, wrote, “All we can do is try to keep our hands cupped and open.”
By Becky Breed
** All books by BQB and WriteLife Publishing are available on Amazon, B&N or can be ordered from your favorite local bookstore. **