Grief is a bizarre state of being. Unpredictable, changing from day to day, driving others away by its numbness and intensity.
Not enough that we go through our days like robots prone to crying jags. Grief also dries up our creativity. Our creative outlet, whether that’s writing, painting or crafting – would be the natural place to go in moments of crisis. To vent, to work through emotions, to heal, to find a little joy. But grief skews our art, turning it into something almost unrecognizable to us, a twisted version of what it used to be.
There are surrealist photographs traveling around Facebook and the internet at the moment. They caught my eye because at first glance they look elfish or fae-ish. When I read one of the articles about the photographer, the memories that rose up instantly were like a punch to the gut.
When her mother died of brain cancer in 2008, photography became Mitchell’s only shelter from the pain of her loss.
“Photography became my only escape when I could no longer talk about how I felt. It became an utter fantasy that blocked out the real world, and a place where I could return to my memories of her, far away from those hospitals walls,” she writes on her website.
I lost my mother to cancer several years ago. It was her third cancer. She had survived two, but this one was of a very aggressive sort.
My father and I spent two days at her side in the IC unit until she passed. For weeks, even months, after her death, my thoughts and dreams were filled with her, with those days at the ICU, the SOUNDS. I heard her wheezy breathing, the machinery whenever I closed my eyes or tried to take a breath. It was driving me slowly mad. Or at least it felt that way at the time.
The only way I could work through it, was giving it time – and by writing.
Allowing your pain, your loss, your grief to find expression in your craft feels scary, especially at the beginning. I was trying to write a light romantic fantasy. What poured out instead had darkness pressing in on every edge. I cried while I wrote. But to allow the darkness to pour out instead of trying to hold it in, was so very healing.
Endure that your art is different while you grieve. Accept it in its raw form. Just dive into the process itself. Let it calm your soul, clear your brain, at least a little. Returning to making art while you’re mourning is so healing, whether your art is writing, painting, photographing, modeling …
Take a look at Christy’s photographs (here’s the link to the galleries on Christy’s website) and let me know what you think.
Brida Anderson’s novel, Hedge Games, released in December. You can find her at www.brida-anderson.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a fae-cat called Robin.