Creativity & Grief
Strong emotions effect most of us, I suspect, on an almost daily and sometimes unforgiving basis. We experience sadness and fear, joy and unadulterated excitement, depression and, yes, also grief. These are all part of the intimacy we share with one another and the world, the great human enterprise, if you will, and often an incompetency we struggle to master.
The good emotions... those are easy. They come to us in a great rush, and we swallow them whole, barely allowing ourselves time to drift in their aura. And, before we've even begun to appreciate this beauty, they float away from us a specter, a pale but lovely memory. Sometimes, we forget to hold on to them. Sometimes, we take them for granted. And sometimes, for many of us, perhaps all of us, we are lucky to have these moments translate themselves into creative expression. We are all creative in some way. We all allow the things we make, do or say to somehow become a vessel for the emotions we experience.
When I am happy, oh those are the beautiful moments of creativity. It's a lovely verse those moments make. When I am anxious, I turn to my work and grant my tension passage into my craft. When I am angry, I hammer. And hammer. And hammer until something takes shape and, in its birth, the ire I felt dissolves into art. And those moments are beautiful also. They are the tangible results of experiencing life and, when life is littered with adversity, they are the complex, physical embodiment of getting past those difficulties.
But what about grief? It seems to be it's own ugly beast, angry and set on proving every other emotion it's unqualified companion. It presents itself as greater than the sum of all others. How does creativity remain our unwearied collaborator when grief takes root and crawls up the walls of our emotional shelters?
On January 2, 2016, a half a world a way, my best friend passed away. She was 40. It is the first great loss I've ever known.
And it has been a struggle to allow creativity a presence in this pain. Grief wants its house empty, to pack the happiness in a box and carry it to the curb. To close the curtains against joy, however faint the light may be. Grief is an unforgiving mistress who takes the excitement of discovery and turns it hollow, if you let it. And, for a time, I did. For a time.
But even when the shadow of grief darkened my door, I worked. I worked at remembering, at opening the curtains and cleaning the windows and allowing the sunlight back in. It was dark, and I was tired, but I worked at creating and allowing those creations to say something about my life with her. Through my art, she was speaking to me, and the power of grief can hardly compare to her beautiful song. You should have heard her voice. Maybe, just maybe, you still can.
And soon, I found that I wasn't working at remembering. I wasn't working at combating the presence of grief because every day of my life with her worked itself through and out of me. She was never content to allow me to live with grief, silent and accepting. And creating is the embodiment of her lust for life, which fuels me when I haven't the energy to nourish myself.
And yes, while I may still meet with grief in the shadows and silence, often and unrelenting, I've begun healing through art. Grief will throw down at my feet its gauntlet and, heavy though it may be, I will pick it up and make something beautiful from it, if for no other reason than to honor the experience of loving someone enough to grieve for them.
It is not a cure.
But it's a start.
I am pushing grief off to the side for now because I am busy dealing with family issues which are just as significant and demanding of attention. Having been through the grieving process previously - I lost my partner, the lesson I learned is you just have to let grief express itself. Or, as I often say cry as you must and laugh as you can and do not forget that we grieve because we love.
4/2/2016 05:11:23 pm
That's a really lovely way to think of it, cry as you must and laugh as you can. I actually just wrote that down in my journal. Thank you!
4/3/2016 08:00:22 pm
4/3/2016 10:23:39 pm
Thank you so much! One day at a time, right?
4/4/2016 08:55:16 pm
I am sorry. There are no words to console such feelings.. as grief. You are in my thoughts, my prayers. This is a hard road at times such as these, that change everything forever. Your words are beautiful as you gather the blessings of spirit with such a painful loss.
4/5/2016 01:46:47 am
I really appreciate your kind words. You are definitely correct that it changes everything. But hopefully the changes will be a little less painful in the coming months.
4/5/2016 04:48:57 pm
It will be less painful. Also, you have a very beautiful and spiritually rational mind. You have already drawn her into your struggle and survival through this. Really, that is quite a testament to the relationship you had with her and continue to it appears... that is amazing and very touching. I noticed your work changing into another dimension that enhances your already beautiful work. Thank you for sharing, I feel that your insight is and will be a blessing to many people.
4/5/2016 12:04:04 am
Honestly making jewlery is the only thing that keeps my mind off of life's ups and downs. You were the first artist I came across when I began a few months ago. You inspire me daily, I love all your work. I myself have severe anxiety but my family has pushed me to follow my dream. This weekend I'm selling in my first gem show😁I'm nervous and excited all at once. Seeing how far you've come and how talented you are, pushes me to continue.
4/5/2016 01:47:42 am
Creating has been a godsend, when I've been able to focus.
4/5/2016 10:48:54 am
Nicole, that was so eloquently worded. I'm so very sorry for your loss. I have experienced great loss in friends and family that passed way to soon. I was a child of 16 when I lost my grandfather who raised me and then a year later I lost my father who was only 52. I don't think we ever stop grieving, we just adjust to living with it. A week ago, my 20 year old step son decided to take his own life. It seems our world is black without a glimmer of light to be found. Hopefully soon, I'll be able to use my creativity to work through these raw emotions. I have always been in awe of your work and you will be my inspiration when that time comes.
4/5/2016 05:25:42 pm
I'm so sorry for your loss. Everything is still so raw after such a sudden onset of grief. I hope the days become easier for you as well.
4/5/2016 12:57:26 pm
Grief is like a big warm blanket that can totally envelop you, but eventually it starts to get too warm to wear constantly. Then you only dive into it on occasion, and pretty soon it's no longer needed because life has come back to your heart. We all have loss, and all grieve differently. Jewelry helps immensely to create and work through those feelings. The best to you!.
4/5/2016 05:26:54 pm
Thank you! I really enjoyed reading your comparison of grief to a warm blanket. It's sometimes too easy to find comfort in the grief of loss instead of comfort from the memory of life. I'm trying to hold on to the latter.
4/7/2016 04:27:42 am
Nicole...my condolences on the loss of your friend. I lost my dad at the first of the year and since his absence, I have lost the rest of my family to greed. I too am struggling to embrace the living side of me...my art. I'm not there yet, but the yearning is beginning to surface. I hope to be swept up in your wake, as you catch that great wind and sail forth!!!
4/25/2016 02:06:43 pm
I thought I had already responded to your comment, so I apologize. And totally sympathize. It's a sad day when we sympathize in grief and loss, but there's comfort in knowing others understand, on some level, the pain of losing someone. I how you can embrace your creativity as a healing tool as well!
4/7/2016 04:21:54 pm
Sorry for the loss of your friend Nicole. You have such a way with words. Embrace your memories!
4/7/2016 05:22:39 pm
I definitely will. Thank you.
4/25/2016 12:13:27 am
Nicole, I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend. My father passed away Dec. 26, so your words here really hit home for me. Thank you for all you do. You really are an inspiration to so many of us.
4/25/2016 02:08:07 pm
I am sorry for your loss as well and hope that it hurts a little less each day
8/6/2016 04:12:25 pm
I fully understand how you were feeling with your friends passing, my creativity took a back burner for at least 8 months during my mums illness, sadly she passed away March this year shortly before her 61st birthday, but I know she's guiding me and I even found the strength to go self employed here in the uk. I'm in awe with your designs, I'm stil at the basic stages but it's enough for my customers thankfully xx
3/12/2017 03:41:01 pm
This is beautiful and though I know that I have read this several times (I have been a follower of yours for years) it rang all the more true as my sister is going thru a divorce and going thru the grief of loss of her marriage of 35+ years. I would like to send this to her (credit to yourself) if that is ok?
3/12/2017 05:55:52 pm
That is more than okay. I'm glad you think it might be helpful.
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